Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking
A “born and braised” Cajun from Louisiana’s Acadia Parish, New Orleans chef and Top Chef alum Toups presents innovative Cajun dishes in this must-have collection of recipes. There’s the expected recipe for a crawfish boil (complete with a playlist that includes Fiona Apple, Nirvana, and Hank Williams); gumbo with chicken and sausage (as well as seafood and smoked duck versions); and a meaty dirty rice made with sirloin, cayenne pepper, and amber beer. But the real fun is Toups’s creativity—there’s a Sazerac terrine of pork butt and belly; crawfish corn bread dressing; crab fondue; as well as an unassailable chicken liver mousse that incorporates bourbon, port, and cream cheese. Toups’s grandmother’s Gulf seafood couvillion—a flavor-packed stew served over rice—is presented in its original version, and the fiendishly simple Toups Palate Cleanser, a simple salad composed of fresh cucumbers in a sherry-dijon vinaigrette, hits all the right notes. An outstanding addition to the storied Louisiana cookbook canon, Toups’s volume deserves a spot on the shelf of anyone who cooks Cajun and New Orleans cuisine.