Chasing the Gator
Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking
Things get a little salty down in the bayou…
Cajun country is the last bastion of true American regional cooking, and no one knows it better than Isaac Toups. Now the chef of the acclaimed Toups’ Meatery and Toups South in New Orleans, he grew up deep in the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana, where his ancestors settled 300 years ago. There, hunting and fishing trips provide the ingredients for communal gatherings, and these shrimp and crawfish boils, whole-hog boucheries, fish frys, and backyard cookouts — form the backbone of this book.
Taking readers from the backcountry to the bayou, Toups shows how to make:
A damn fine gumbo, boudin, dirty rice, crabcakes, and cochon de lait His signature double-cut pork chop and the Toups Burger And more authentic Cajun specialties like Hopper Stew and Louisiana Ditch Chicken.
Along the way, he tells you how to engineer an on-the-fly barbecue pit, stir up a dark roux in only 15 minutes, and apply Cajun ingenuity to just about everything.
Full of salty stories, a few tall tales, and more than 100 recipes that double down on flavor, Chasing the Gator shows how — and what it means — to cook Cajun food today.
“Chasing the Gator should come with a warning: do not read hungry. Isaac Toups’ colorful tribute to the traditions of Cajun cooking is dangerously appetite-inducing and equally enlightening. You may have to ice your arm after all the roux-stirring, but you’ll walk away with a profound appreciation for the Cajun way of life—a delicious and authentic piece of American culture.”
Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, founder of Shake Shack, author of Setting the Table
“Toups’ form of authentic Cajun cooking comes at you extra-bold and spicy, like a Cat-5 hurricane out of the Gulf. And yet his recipes in Chasing the Gator are approachable and enabling. This cookbook is a riveting read, and anyone interested in the heritage of the American South needs to own this beautifully rendered dive into grattons, frisseurs, tata bouille, cochon de lait and roux peas. Get ready to make the most soul-stirring gumbo you’ve ever tasted!”
Matt and Ted Lee, James Beard Award-winning author of The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen
“It’s hard not to be charmed by Isaac Toups, and almost impossible not to fall for the bold, brave, and unabashedly rich flavors of his Louisiana kitchens. With Chasing the Gator, Toups spills all his magical cooking secrets and time-honored traditions, from how to make the perfect boudin to his daddy’s famous seafood gumbo. It’s a lip-smacking wild ride through the heart of Cajun country and there’s no better chef I would want as my guide!”
Gail Simmons, food expert, TV host, and author of Bringing it Home