The name of the soup in French means “loggerhead turtle.” For English-speaking people it might sound like “cow Ann.” So, there. It’s meat, it tastes good. If tasting blind, I wouldn’t be able to say what kind, but I’d suspect slow-cooked tough lean beef muscles or some kind of beef offal.
First, I found turtle meat in Central Market. Second, I found this wonderful source. Curious, I tried cooking Crawfish Etouffee and Creole Turtle Soup. Great descriptions and recipes to use when Central Market has great ingredients from Louisiana.
It’s interesting to note somewhat confusing “instructions” on CM’s turtle meat: “Keep frozen until ready to use. Break seal and thaw under refrigeration. Cook to temp of 165F for 15 seconds before serving.” For a novice, they might sound like steps, with the last to cook turtle meat for 15 seconds. These are not cooking instructions. They are just safety food handling reminder. Like many other proteins, turtle meat should be cooked to 165F internal temp and reheated to the same temp before serving.
Note butter:flour ratio for Creole dark is 2:1 in many recipes. Twice more butter helps to caramelize flour without burning it. You can make dark roux using classic 1:1 ratio, but if making it for the first time go for 2:1. See Recipe Notes below with links to instructional texts and videos about roux.
Soup, Stew, or Sauce?
I was going for thick and rich Creole turtle stew. A cup of sauce left over and cooked Angus beef meatballs in it. You don’t need exotic for Texas turtle meat to enjoy this Creole creation! Cook this stew with easily available beef shanks or cheeks. This dish is perfect for cold weather.
When your recipe calls for a long list of ingredients, prepare them all before you start cooking.
Mix melted butter and flour and cook it constantly mixing until it become the color of caramel. Or, if the color of peanut butter sound more familiar, that is your color. If it's your first time cooking roux, see Recipe Notes section below.
In a large heavy bottomed pan, melt butter on high heat. When it starts bubbling add cubed turtle meat and cook constantly stirring until browned.
Add diced onion, celery, scallions, and garlic. Season and cook constantly stirring until vegetables are tender.
Add tomato puree, bring it to boiling on high heat, lower heat to medium high, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
Add beef stock Worcestershire, cayenne, allspice, and bay leaves. Bring it to boiling on high heat, lower heat to medium, and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use this time to cook eggs, slice and juice lemons, slice scallions, measure Sherry — prepare for serving.
Temper roux with a 1-1.5 cups of hot sauce, mix well, return it to the pan. Add herbs, stir, and simmer for another 15 minutes to thicken. Add lemon juice and adjust seasoning to your taste. You can mix in sliced boiled eggs, or arrange slices to decorate each portion. Add lemon slices (I didn't do it) and sprinkle with sliced scallions. 1 tbsp of Sherry is added at the table before eating.
Proceed as you would in the light brown Cajun roux recipe but continue cooking until the roux is the color of a light caramel. This roux should almost be twice as dark as the light brown roux but not as dark as chocolate. You should remember that the darker the roux gets, the less thickening power it holds and the roux tends to become bitter. This roux is used most often in sauce piquantes, crawfish bisques and gumbos. However, it is perfectly normal to use the dark brown roux in any dish in Cajun cooking.
This roux gives food such a rich character that I sometimes make shrimp and corn bisque with it, as well as a river road seafood gumbo that will knock your socks off. Slow cooking is essential to achieve that dark, rich color."