Nutria is a non-native nuisance species of rodent that is causing big
problems in Louisiana wetlands. They are vegetarians, or herbivores,
and when they eat wetland grasses, they eat the tender shoots as well as
the roots of the grasses.
During the past 10 to 15 years, they have emerged as serious pests in the coastal wetlands of
Barataria-Terrebonne estuary. Scientists at Louisiana State University Coastal Ecology Institute
confirmed many people’s suspicions about it's destructive capabilities in an experiment in which
they fenced areas of marsh to exclude them and waterfowl. After one year, there was a dramatic
difference between the protected and unprotected plots. If they bothfeed together, the results
can be devastating, with all except a few species of plants destroyed.
All the info on Nutria
Discussions on how to solve their overpopulation problem have continued for years without a
satisfactory conclusion. In the early 1990s, the Louisiana Nature Center (Audubon Institute) sponsored
several Fests at which celebrated area chefs cooked delicious n dishes. These events raised
public awareness to the dilemma and suggested a novel solution: LET’S EAT NUTRIA! In the
1960s the same suggestion was made, mainly as a way to increase the economic benefits realized from
nutria harvests. Millions of dollars worth of meat was going to waste when the animals were
harvested only for fur.
The prejudice of many about them being “dirty rodents” is unfounded according to the report. They
have more sanitary habits than most domestic animals and have a purely vegetarian diet. The general
public of south Louisiana has not yet accepted the meat as a food choice.
What does it taste like? The meat is very similar to
rabbit meat and tastes like dark turkey meat.
It is wholesome to eat. Those harvested
for meat are cared for differently than those
harvested for pelts only. Those that are for human
consumption are still harvested primarily for the
pelt, but must be stored and processed under
guidelines for other food grade meat. Only
the ones processed at a state inspected facility
can be sold for human consumption. There is
currently only one state inspected facilities in
Louisiana. I personallly have tried the meat and it is not that bad. The taste is kind of dry, but I can't get past the problem that it is still a rat. If given the chance you should try the meat. It different taste than other meat that you are used to.
Recipe by: Chef Enola Prudhomme
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds nutria ground meat
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup tomato paste
4 cups beef stock (or water)
1 can red kidney beans (opt.)
In a heavy 5-quart pot on high heat, add oil and heat until very hot. Add meat, and cook and stir 10 minutes. Add salt, red pepper, chili powder, onion and both bell peppers. Cook and stir 15 minutes. Add tomato paste and 4 cups stock. Cook 30 minutes; reduce heat to medium. Add red kidney beans; cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot!
Traditional Louisiana Foods