Photo By Jeff Dennis
Fried Gator Bites are a gateway appetizer to great seafood in Lake Charles
By Jeff Dennis
Seafood lovers should visit the Jack Daniel’s Bar and Grill at the L’Auberge Casino in order to experience what Lake Charles native Chef Lyle Broussard is cooking. His long tenure as chef gives him a bit of freedom to create Cajun seasonings that compliment any catch of the day.
“Generally what I am cooking today is the same food I ate when I was younger,” said Broussard. “The dishes are evolving over time for me, but without changing the soul of the food itself.”
Despite a reputation for tasty cooking in his hometown, Broussard is an ambassador for the entire brand of Louisiana seafood. He gets to maneuver around the region some, being featured at cooking events in Texas, and attending Mardi Gras Balls in New Orleans.
The Catch and Cook program lures anglers to bring Chef Broussard their fresh fish for him to prepare for dinner. This casino restaurant is not the only one to promote this practice, but it is the only one to benefit from Broussard’s expertise.
Our fishing excursion to the Lake Calcasieu Pass yielded enough redfish for us to bring back a few. The restaurant beckons customers to drop off their fish with directions about how to prepare it, and they will prep the fish while the anglers get cleaned up from their day on the saltwater.
Arriving on the back deck patio as a long summer day draws to a close, a sunset view is in focus. Appetizers included a smoked shrimp dip, gator bites, oysters, bacon-wrapped shrimp and a spicy salsa.
The main course consisted of parmesan-encrusted redfish bites served over grits and charred Brussels sprouts. Each bite of the fresh redfish was tender and tasty, proving that a light touch in the kitchen is often the best recipe.
“Originally, this recipe was for sea bass, but our customers come here to eat local seafood so now we use it on redfish and red snapper,” said Broussard. Regular customers come to know that Chef Broussard is very personable and often visits the tables and shares some personal experiences like his fondness for fishing and for riding horses.
“Start by cutting the redfish into 1.5-inch cubes, and understand that they will shrink when cooked,” said Broussard. “Season the meat with a light dose of salt and pepper, then dust them with flour and buttermilk.”
“Using a non-stick skillet and some olive oil, cook the redfish bites under medium heat,” said Broussard. “Cook it from the bottom up, and watch for the texture of the fish to change.”
“I keep the grated parmesan mixed with some flour and apply it to the top surface,” said Broussard. “After the fish is mostly cooked, flip it one time to sear the parmesan to it, which only takes 30 to 45-seconds.”
“Tail pieces of fish are thinner and should be ready after flipping,” said Broussard. “But a thicker piece may need to be finished in the oven for five minutes at 300-degrees. The bites are served with remoulade sauce to dip them in.”
Do you prefer your redfish blackened, or marinated with creole sauce? Chef Broussard can take any such orders, but perhaps the best way to go is to present the fish and simply tell him to surprise you using the creative instincts that he loves to experiment with. Visit the Internet at www.llakecharles.com for more information.
The author’s Lowcountry Outdoors blog is celebrating a tenth anniversary in 2019.