Across Louisiana, croaking bullfrogs bellow out the melody of a nighttime swamp song. Bullfrogs also jump to mind when I think about a gastronomic treat that’s borderline crazy in the rest of the country but a normal delicacy around here.
Like many people, I tend to like my frog legs golden-fried and crispy. They’ve become a staple of fried seafood platters anywhere in Louisiana, like the Gulf Platter at Hot Tails in New Roads and Harbor Seafood in Kenner. Jack Dempsey’s in New Orleans serves up a huge plate of fried frog while Juban’s in Baton Rouge has a Frog Leg Vacherie appetizer that’s a play on Buffalo wings complete with blue cheese and pickled celery.
Some people say frog legs taste like chicken, and I suppose that’s fair. The lean white meat of the frog reminds me of the “dark” meat on a pasture-raised chicken. It is still slightly tough due to the muscle fibers yet tender enough to just bite into it.
A night on the bayous gigging frogs can work up a powerful hunger. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to cook up the catch without a fryer. Frog legs can be grilled, stuffed, or stewed down in a gumbo. The famous Middendorf’s Restaurant on Bayou Manchac broils pairs of legs for their customers. There isn’t a wrong way to cook them. For example, I enjoy a good frog leg sauce piquante.
Smothered in the Cajun trinity with a little tomato brightness, this sauce piquante is a great way to celebrate the frog. The dish packs plenty of flavor for a spicy, earthy concoction worthy of the swamp. Give it a try next time you have a batch of frog legs and don’t want to break out the deep fryer. You won’t regret it.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 pairs large frog legs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup diced onion
- ¼ cup diced green bell pepper
- ¼ cup diced celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with liquid
- 2 cups seafood stock
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Hot cooked rice
- Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add frog legs, and lightly brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer frog legs to a platter, and set aside.
- Add flour to skillet, and cook, stirring constantly, until a tan roux forms, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, salt, and cayenne to skillet; cook until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add tomato, stock, hot sauce, thyme, and bay leaf. When mixture begins to simmer, reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, until sauce reduces by a third, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Lay frog legs in sauce, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, basting with sauce. Taste, and adjust seasoning, if needed. Stir in parsley and lemon juice. Remove bay leaf, and serve over rice. Garnish with parsley, if desired.