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Leon's View

Review: The Gator Queen Liz Cookbook

The Gator Queen Liz Cook Book plays off the history Channel "Swamp People" series.
Review: The Gator Queen Liz Cookbook

I love the cuisine of Louisiana. I was disappointed in this cookbook.

by Leon Pantenburg

I’m one of those people who will sit down and read a new cookbook like a novel. I start at the beginning, move through appetizers and entrees, and eventually find something I want to cook for dinner.

gator queen cookbook 1And that was my intention when I got a copy of “The Gator Queen Liz Cook Book” by Elizabeth Choate. Choate is an alligator hunter on the popular “Swamp People” series of the History Channel. I rarely watch “reality” TV, but I did watch several episodes of  “Swamp People” to get a feel for the show.

Basically, Liz and her partner(s) hunt alligators during the season for the meat and hides. They have adventures along the way, and usually end up “rassling” a big gator onto the boat after shooting it with a .22 rifle. No reality series is complete without drama of some sort, and the alligator hunters generally must cope with bad weather, falling water levels and/or the season closing before they fill their tags.

The cookbook is a natural offshoot, designed to play off the series. It features photos of  Liz’s husband and kids, and of various family activities. I enjoyed looking at them.

So back to the cookbook. I’m reading along, looking for a dinner recipe. But I didn’t have any of Liz’s special seasoning, so I couldn’t do any of the interesting recipes.  The further I read, the more apparent it became: This cookbook is designed to promote Liz’s seasoning.

In the venison and pork section, there  were 14 recipes, and all but one required the seasoning. Of the 27 seafood recipes, 22 required the seasoning.  Chicken was similar – 13 total recipes, and 12 required Liz’s seasoning. All told, 71 recipes of the approximately 100 need Liz’s seasoning.

This leads to two different conclusions. Either that seasoning is one hell of an ingredient, or the  recipes were created with that special seasoning to sell cookbooks and product.

I compared some of Liz’s recipes with those of other Louisiana cookbooks I have. I didn’t find anything particularly unique – except for Liz’s seasoning – in the gator queen book.

Another surprise was that there was no mention of roux. Roux is a mixture of bacon fat or oil, mixed with flour and browned over heat. It is used as a base for gumbo, soups and other Cajun dishes. The roux adds a lot of flavor, and is an essential ingredient in many Cajun dishes. The fact roux wasn’t mentioned is another thumbs down.

I lived in the deep south  for several years, and I love southern cooking. I particularly like Cajun cuisine when it comes to wild game. The combination of great seasonings and the unique flavors of the different meats and seafood create one of my favorite comfort food cuisines.

And some of my favorite people in Mississippi are of Cajun descent. They can cook that style really, really well. They don’t use a special seasoning, and usually use a roux.

So I was disappointed in “The Gator Queen Liz Cookbook.” If you’re looking for a good Cajun/Louisiana cookbook, keep looking.

Here’s a great roux recipe from Foods a la Louisiane, by the Louisiana Farm Bureau Women, my go-to Louisiana cookbook.


1/4 c lard

1/4 c all-purpose flour

2 large onions, finely chopped

fresh chopped parsley

Melt lard in cast iron pot over medium heat, add flour, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until roux is light brown. Add onions, cook until onions are brown, stirring constantly. Add parsley as desired, stir well. Roux is done when it is the color of a copper penny. Yield: 1/2 cup

Submitted by Mrs. Eddie (Doris) Schexnaydre, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Leon Pantenburg is an outdoor cooking enthusiast, with a particular interest in wild game cuisine. He was a charter member of the Central Oregon Dutch Oven Society, an award winning Dutch oven cook, former cookoff judge and a two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven World Championship competition. Leon is also a Boy Scout cooking merit badge counselor.

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Leon's View

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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