oysters

Recipe: Mobile Bay Gumbo

I was born on the shores of Mobile Bay and I have spent more than 30 years living, hunting, fishing, cooking and most importantly eating beside its lapping waves.  This beautiful and historic body of water provides a bounty of food especially seafood and wild game.  This particular gumbo uses proteins found in or around Mobile Bay – duck, shrimp, oysters and flounder.  Dig it!

Mobile Bay Gumbo
Recipe Type: Soup, Main
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour 40 mins
Serves: 4-8
Ingredients
  • 4 duck breasts
  • Olive oil (if needed)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 bunch celery, diced
  • 3 bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound fresh okra, sliced
  • 1 gallon seafood stock (give or take)
  • 1 TBL oregano
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 TBL thyme
  • Salt, pepper and/or Cajun seasoning to taste
  • 2 pounds flounder filets, 1″ diced
  • 2 pounds peeled shrimp
  • 2 pints oysters (with liquid)
  • Worcestershire Sauce to taste
  • Louisiana hot sauce to taste
Instructions
  1. Lightly season the duck breasts and put skin-side down in a heated gumbo pot and cook until fat is rendered and skin is crispy as all get out, roughly 7 minutes. Remove the duck meat but leave that glorious fat.
  2. Add olive oil (if needed) so that you have 1/2 cup of fat in the pot and then add the flour, season to taste and cook the roux until the color of chocolate (about 15 to 20 minutes) stirring constantly.
  3. Add the onions, celery and peppers and cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, okra and stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  5. Add the herbs and season to taste.
  6. Dice the duck and add to the gumbo. Cook for 20 minutes.
  7. Add the fish and cook for five minutes.
  8. Add the oysters and cook for three minutes.
  9. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes.
  10. Season to taste with Worcestershire Sauce and Louisiana hot sauce.
  11. Serve over rice.

Photo courtesy of Lynne Brown

Notes

If you can’t find flounder then sheepshead or even catfish will do.

Going Coastal Recipe: Fried Oyster Sliders

Everyone loves sliders, miniature bite-sized sandwiches.  One of New Orleans’ favorite sandwiches is the oyster Po’ Boy so we have combined the two.  The addition of a fried pickle adds extra snap.

Fried Oyster Sliders
1 quart fresh Gulf oysters
24 Parker House rolls or similar dinner style rolls
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup Masa Harina
1/2 cup Sour Cream Rémoulade (recipe below)
Fried Dill Pickles (recipe below)
Cajun seasoning

Combine cornmeal and Masa in a gallon zip top bag, season with Cajun seasoning, seal, and shake to mix or use your favorite store-bought mix.  Rinse oysters and toss into bag to coat with breading.  Shake off excess breading and deep fry at 375 until golden brown.

Coat bottom half of each roll with Sour Cream Rémoulade then an oyster or two.  Drizzle with more Sour Cream Rémoulade and a fried pickle.

Sour Cream Rémoulade
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Zatarain’s Creole mustard
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix, chill and serve.

Fried Dill Pickles – Yes, in the South we fry everything.
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup Masa Harina
1/4 cup seasoned salt
2 cups dill pickle chips drained
Oil for frying

In a shallow bowl, beat together the egg & buttermilk to form an egg wash; stir well then set aside. In an iron skillet over medium-high heat, pour the oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 350 degrees. Whisk the cornmeal, masa and seasoned salt together in a medium sized bowl. In small batches, dip the pickle slices first in the egg wash, then in the dredge, shaking off any excess. Drop them into the oil and move the pickles around to brown evenly using a slotted spoon, roughly 1 minute. Drain and repeat until all pickles have been cooked.

Review: Street’s Seafood in Bay Minette, AL

Cops are a great resource for cheap, tasty eats. Law enforcement officers (likewise with firefighters) risk the most for the least return. Ask any officer that ever attended the Southwest Alabama Police Academy in Bay Minette and they’ll tell you the best place in town is Street’s Seafood Restaurant.

I visited Street’s a few years ago while working on an article about diners. Though famous for their seafood my assignment called for me to eat the same dish at every diner I visited, hamburger steak with gravy. Recently I found myself in Bay Minette for the first time since then so I decided to try what they are famous for, seafood.

Now, I am not the biggest fan of buffets but a Third Coast restaurant rocking all-you-can-eat seafood is hard to pass up. So I didn’t.

Included in the buffet is an inviting salad bar that featured a garden of local produce but alas only iceberg lettuce.  Not a deal breaker for most but for me it is.  So I headed to the hot bar where waiting was a bounty of the sea and not all of it fried.  Boiled crab legs, baked catfish and boiled Gulf shrimp are delicious alternatives but with few exceptions there is seldom a better way to eat seafood than cornmeal battered and deep fried.

I enjoyed a plate of fried catfish, boiled and fried shrimp, cheese grits and fried oysters; a few hush-puppies joined the party as well.  I also sampled the seafood gumbo.  Although I prefer my boiled seafood to be spicy, the shrimp was mild but sweet; quite good in fact.  The fried catfish was perfectly done, crispy but not greasy.  The same can be said of the fried shrimp.  The hush-puppies were also very good; fresh not frozen and littered with bits of green onion.

The gumbo, for me, was too bland and the roux did not taste fully cooked.  It also seemed to be made with chicken stock as opposed to a seafood stock.  There was ample seafood in it it just didn’t boast much in the way of flavor.  The oysters are a different story.  They were awesome, both my dinner partners and I returned to the buffet for more oysters.  I skipped the large dessert bar but it featured the usuals, peach cobbler and nanner puddin’.  Both looked good but I managed to abstain.

A large sign approaching Bay Minette on Hwy. 31 proudly proclaims that if you visited and didn’t eat at Street’s your trip was wasted.  Here, here!  Street’s Seafood Restaurant is located at 251 U.S. Hwy.31 in Bay Minette, AL.  Phone (251) 937-2664.

Diary of a Wannabe TV Chef – PT 6

This is the latest installment in a continuing series that documents my personal quest to become the host of my own cooking show. Since this is a relatively new “career,” there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. From what I have seen, the two most important elements in securing such a position are passion for food and plain old dumb luck. Born with a passion for food, I set out to make my own luck.

Greener Pastures

WintzellsWintzell’s Oyster House has been in operation in Mobile since 1938. What began as an oyster bar with six stools is now a multi-unit restaurant powerhouse that is unique in character and the standard bearer for what a true Gulf Coast oyster house should be. I escape from the Fern Bar to become a part of this remarkable piece of Mobile history as an associate manager.

Wintzell’s managerial formula is that there are no FOH (Front Of House) managers and no BOH (Back Of House) managers. Rather, all managers work both aspects several times a week. My stint there allows me to work at three of the four stores as well as the commissary which makes a good deal of the gumbo, jerk chicken chili, and other signature Wintzell’s dishes. I also get my first taste of catering.

My employment there also has me working notable events like the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival, which transforms the small artist colony of Fairhope, AL into a 200,000 visitor carnival of well-to-do art lovers from across the country. I also spend a week at the original downtown location helping during Mardi Gras. For those who do not know, Mobile, not New Orleans, is the home of American Mardi Gras, having celebrated it for nearly half a century before some engineer decided to erect a city at that peculiar crescent shaped bend in the Mississippi River.

Though the money is great and the experience is good, I have little time left to work towards the ultimate goal of becoming a TV chef. I have not written an article since going into management, over a year in fact. In the summer of 2006, I leave the time-consuming field of restaurant management to become a sous chef for a national chain Italian restaurant.

The chain has a wonderful dedication to quality ingredients and making things from scratch. All in all it is a pleasant experience with one exception, I am dirt poor. On the bright side I do have time to work on my web site and to start writing again. Towards the holidays of 2006, I see an ad that will have a profoundly effect on my quest to become a TV chef.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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