I bet in all regions, heck, all parts of this world, you fine folks have a slew of food dishes you just love to make ... you know the ones that are so gosh darn good, but because of the name or maybe ingredients, you just don't go around praising the worthiness. Well, that is what Shut Yo Mouth is all about and today it's about bodacious meat pies.
Now down here in LA, that's Lower Alabama for those uneducated, and around many parts of the south, we enjoy a certain critter, why just thinking about it makes me lick my lips. I'm talking about cooter.
See what I mean, some things you just don't want to talk about, I mean really. You can have the best, tastiest cooter but folks don't want you going around talking about it. Imagine walking in the fellowship hall for Thursday's night church bible social and greeting everyone with "Hey ya'll, look ah here. You won't believe the size of this cooter I brought home last night, and for it's size, it's still young and sweet ... Come on, ya'll eat up now." Nope, some things you just can't imagine talking about.
Yet folks have been making Cooter Pie for as long as, well, for as long as there's been cooters I guess. Why it's a well known recipe. Never heard of it? Cooter either? Well, here in the south, we say cooter all the time sometimes not even referring to eating it. As in an older, ornery man, Look at that cooter (ol' coot). Or when we see him pretty tight and all liquored up, He's drunk as a cooter (Brown). But more than likely, we say it for what it is, as in Look yonder, now that's a fine cooter up in that hole.
Found near swamps and ponds, along river beds basking in the summer sun, cooters burrow into the mud banks to nest and hibernate in the winter, to make a home, raise a family and live peacefully not knowing some southern redneck is out looking for mama or papa cooter to make a pie. Now if you really want to get educated, some folks call them freshwater turtles, but what fun is that. Wait, I see ya, you've come this far, don't turn up your nose now, I mean, cooter or rather turtle soup is just about on every menu in New Orleans, real tasty too. Below is a recipe for Cooter Pie. The first one I remember seeing is from the The Government Street Presbyterian Cookbook published in the late 1800's. See, some folks do talk about it, and at church socials too.
The name cooter of course is slang, derivative from kuta, a West African name for turtle. A lot of our slang comes from African languages, I mean, these are the folks who raised many of us and influenced our way of cooking. This recipe is for entertainment only, I don't really expect you to Enjoy! this one, but ya know, swapping out cooter for any meat would make a fine substitute and keep the conversation going.... just saying...
1/2 cup chopped bacon
2 garlic toes, crushed
1 cup liquor from stew pot
1 tablespoon whiskey
good shake of celery salt
couple of good shakes of red pepper
2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
2 slices toasted white bread (crumbled)
2 tablespoons oleo
1 tablespoon sherry
mace and thyme to taste
black pepper to taste
First you gotta wash your cooter. Then drop live cooter in a pot of boiling water. Cook for 45 minutes. Cut open the underside of the shell with a saw and remove the meat, fat, liver, and eggs it any. Be careful not to break the gall. Remove meat from the feet and legs. Put aside.