Hey, Cajun French speakers: did you ever think you’d see the word poule d’eau in the New York Times? I certainly never guessed I would. Mad props to chef John Besh, who answered readers’ questions in the Diner’s Journal section of the New York Times back on December 3rd, where he offered poule d’eau gumbo recipe (linked above) in response to a question on using game in gumbo.
Poule d’eau, also known as coot, are the Rodney Dangerfields of the waterfowl world. Their tendencies to dive and swim when confronted, to form huge flocks in the marsh, and their need to run atop the water to get airborne make them easy prey for hunters. In addition to aquatic vegetation, the birds eat fish, small animals, bugs, and eggs, lending their flesh a distinctive, emphatic flavor found unpleasant by many. Still, poule d’eaus’ relative abundance, even in years when better-tasting migratory wildfowl like mallard, teal, and pintail are scarce, make them a familiar food across south Louisiana.
I like ’em pot-roasted with apple, onion, and garlic, served over rice. How do you cook your poule d’eau?
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I like them because I don’t have to feather them.
What’s next in the NY Times, a recipe for dogris jambalaya 😉
The uncles were terrible duck hunters and my father did not hunt. They mainly shot poule d’eau. The aunts did not cook that so we got them all. Mama would de-breast them and then pot roast them. I would eat them with Steen’s cane syrup and bread. Fond memories.
Poule d’eau certainly bring out strong opinions: people seem to love them or hate them. But they certainly are easy to hunt!
Small groups of poule d’eau are floating in the lake these days on the west side of the causeway in the morning… Seeing them is easy because of their markings… a graphic designers lesson number one for sure- white dot on a larger black dot on big grey lake makes a focal point for sure! They are currently are hanging out midway.. at the parish line if you want one!
Have you ever seen their feet? A graphic designer’s dream in chartreuse, with lobed toes rather than webs like a duck.
I can remember paddling to my duck blind one morning and coming upon about one hundred of them on the water just as day broke. I made three shots and dispatched about two dozen of them. I probably spent another two hours and three dozen more shells to round up the crippled ones. The limit at that time was thirty birds. Good thing my mother didn’t mind helping with the dressing and cleaning. Good eating. I make gumbo with jalapeno sausage from the best stop in Scott LA and poule d’eau. Good eats.