Venison Sauce Piquante

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venison sauce piquante

Photo by Holly A. HeyserA few years ago I found myself in southern Louisiana, near Houma. A fellow outdoor writer had invited me out to catch redfish down near Grand Isle. We hadn’t met up yet, and I needed lunch before I made the 70-mile drive down to the Gulf. I asked where I ought to get some food, and, after careful consultation with some locals drinking coffee and eating kolache, I set my truck toward Bayou Delight.

It was exactly what I’d hoped it would be. A little grubby, very lived-in and dotted with sugar cane farmers and other random Cajuns, some speaking French.

I had just sat down in a booth when a gigantic man wearing a foot-long Bowie knife on his belt walked in with his petite, dark-haired wife and sat down in the booth next to me. Turns out he was a gator hunter. Sadly, I can’t remember this man’s name. We got to talking though, and when he learned I’d never eaten gator — although, oddly, I’d eaten crocodile in South Africa — he suggested I order Bayou Delight’s alligator sauce piquante.

I did, along with a side order of fried alligator for good measure.

The gator hunter had set me in the right direction. I’d never eaten a sauce piquante (sauce pee-kahnt) before, and when it came it looked like red gumbo. It was about as thick as a gumbo, and was very tomatoey, with an island of white rice in the center and lots of diced gator floating around. It was spicy, but not blow-your-head-off spicy. I’d never eaten anything like it. Gumbo meets chili.

I told the gator hunter that finding alligator in California might be tough. “Oh, you can use anything you want,” he said. “Turtle, frogs, crawfish, chicken, venison…” Venison? That sounded like a plan.

When I returned home, I decided that I had to make it for myself.

Turns out a sauce piquante is indeed like a tomatoey gumbo. One of the generalizations about the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking it the presence of tomato; Creole cooking uses a lot of tomato, Cajun less so. Most Cajun gumbos have no tomato or very little. I say “most” because every cook has her own recipe. But sauce piquante is the exception: It is a tomato-based dish.

To make a venison sauce piquante, as in most things Cajun, you start with a dark roux (unless it is a seafood version, in which case the roux is stopped when it’s the color of peanut butter). The roux then cooks the trinity — onion, celery and green pepper.

Tomato paste sometimes makes an appearance, but tomatoes themselves always do. The canned variety with green chiles made by Rotel shows up a lot in recipes. Red wine is in some versions (it’s in mine), and it’s always served with white rice and either parsley or green onions.

The alligator sauce piquante I had at Bayou Delight was unique in that the gator was diced small. If you’ve never eaten gator, it can be tough. Chewy. Like chicken meets shrimp meets clam. It’s an acquired taste. Dicing the meat small and long stewing fixes this, however. And it will do the same for venison, which has a tendency to become dry in stews.

Was my version better than Bayou Delight’s? Probably not, but I’d like to think it would make the Unnamed Gator Hunter happy. And since I can’t find him, you get to be the judge. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

venison sauce piquante
4.80 from 29 votes

Venison Sauce Piquante

What follows is a general sauce piquante recipe. This Cajun stew uses whatever meat or seafood is available. I've seen recipes for sauce piquante using alligator, frog, crawfish, crabs, shrimp, chicken, venison, armadillo (!), squirrel, duck and goat. (I also have a snapping turtle sauce piquante recipe.) Suffice to say you can use anything. The only thing I would suggest is to match meat with roux and wine. Light meats with a peanut butter-colored roux and white wine, dark meats with a dark (the color of dark chocolate) roux and red wine.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cajun
Servings: 8 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup peanut oil or lard
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • One 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, or more to taste
  • 3-4 pounds venison or other meat diced small
  • 1 cup red wine
  • One 28-ounce can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Salt, black pepper and hot sauce to taste
  • Chopped green onions or parsley, for garnish

Instructions 

  • In a large, heavy pot like a Dutch oven, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Stir in the flour, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook this roux, stirring often, until it turns the color of dark chocolate, about 15-20 minutes. Once the roux turns the color of peanut butter, you will need to stir it almost constantly to prevent it from burning.
  • While the roux is cooking, Heat 6 cups of water in another pot to the boiling point. Hold it at a simmer for now.
  • When the roux is ready, add the onions, celery and green pepper and stir to combine. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook this, stirring often, until everything is soft, about 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle some salt over everything while you do this. Add the garlic, Cajun seasoning and tomato past and stir to combine. Cook this, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes.
  • Mix in the venison, then add the cup of red wine, the can of crushed tomatoes and the hot water, stirring as you add. Add the bay leaves and bring this to a gentle simmer. Add salt and hot sauce to taste. Let this simmer very gently until the meat is tender, about 3 hours or more.
  • When the sauce piquante is ready, add any more salt, black pepper, hot sauce and/or Cajun seasoning you want, then serve it with white rice and lots of green onions or parsley. Make sure you have hot sauce at the table; I use Tabasco, but use whatever variety you prefer.

Notes

Always serve this with white rice. And remember, like all good stews, this one is better the day after it's made.

Nutrition

Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 747mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 557IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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59 Comments

  1. One of my go to recipes when company comes over, always a crowd-pleaser. I do substitute un-charred, skin on poblano for the bell pepper.

  2. My Cajun husband doesn’t add wine to the sauce, but he does marinate the venison in red wine overnight before cooking. It makes it that much more tender and delicious!

  3. A few suggestions from a cajun. Use vidalia onion and red bells for sweetness. Use only 2-3oz tomato paste and throw a few tbsp of sugar in there to balance out the acidity from the tomato. Cut out the wine. I like to use leek instead of celery too. A good, traditional sauce piquant should be sweet, savory and lightly salty.

  4. You can use bell peppers as well as sweet banana peppers or something similar ( no heat jalapenos) . For me the heat is provided in the rotel and some added red pepper. I prefer the red pepper because it seems like it is a nice slow heat that just kinda takes its time and when used in the right amount is not overpowering. When I cook a sauce piquant the object is to have some heat in it but not so much that you don’t get to taste the flavors. I haven’t used your recipe but it looks about how I would cook it. This is the food I was raised on.

  5. Some Cajuns from the general area of Houma also make venison sauce piquant that leans towards a pasta sauce. Cook with canned mushrooms, use Italian tomato paste, add some sliced green olives and serve over spaghetti noodles.
    My favorite is closer to this version, however. I brown the venison before adding it to the gravy. ymmv.

    1. Nick: Normally I wouldn’t help someone from Crotch Pains… I am from Westfield. 😉 But yes, green bell pepper. Nice to see someone from the old neighborhood!

  6. Love this recipe. I tried it with Blacktail Deer 2 years ago. I just got another Deer so cant wait to try again. Its all about the Roux Thanks for posting.

  7. So our current favorite recipe in the entire intergalactic planetary is your Venison barbacoa. We have been sending the link to the recipe to basically everyone that will listen. Amazing to say the least. Our 16 month son loves it too .We make a small quesadilla with some inside for him.

    Anyways, this is the second recipe of yours we are trying. I’ve never made a roux before, pretty sure I did ok. It’s simmering now. Needless to say I am stoked for the outcome. Thanks for your awesome site. It is, in my opinion, peerless when it comes to cooking with garden and game.

  8. I made this today with venison, it is delicious. I am leaving it in the fridge overnight, things like this always better the next day. To the person who asked about gluten free, I always make my roux with white rice flour and it always turns out excellent. I am going to throw in a can of hominy because I like the texture it adds. An excellent recipe.

  9. Looks like a fairly easy/straight forward recipe! Should be good on our annual “Boys Weekend” campout in November. I think this will warm us nicely after a crisp fall morning in the Deer stands!

  10. My uncle sent me five 1 lb pkgs of tenderized alligator meat from Florida. I am down to 3, and this recipe is gonna happen for us today for Father’s Day! My husband had to work but will be very happy when he gets home for dinner!

  11. I live near Austin but grew up in Gonzales, LA. I once caught two snapping turtles mating in the swamp behind Mom and Dad’s and we made a big Sauce Piquant out of them while my uncles were their building Mom and Dad’s patio. We passed a good time yeah cher.

  12. This has become my favorite recipe! The last time I made it I was a little short of venison to cut up so I improvised by using a pound of cubed venison, a pound of ground venison and two links of smoked kiebasa cut up. WOW!!! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Other than the kind of meat, is there a difference between a sauce piquante and etoufee? Seems like both (or just about anything cajun) goes over rice.

  14. I love all things Venison and Louisiana. As great as venison is in this dish, you simply have not had sauce piquante unless you’ve had rabbit sauce piquante at K-Paul’s (Paul Prudhomme’s) restaurant in New Orleans!