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Spice of Life: Le Chien Cookers love outdoors, black iron pots

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:39 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

MOSS BLUFF — Food, fun and fellowship.

Combine those three at a state park under a clear sky and you have the essence of what members of the SWLA Le Chien Cookers are about.

Toss in an outdoor prepared Cajun paella — cooked by a man with a heart as big as his strong hands — and the mind will get programmed to make the trek to Sam Houston Jones State Park at the end of every month to sample the food that is showed off by this group of cooks who never saw an ingredient they were afraid to put in a Dutch oven.

SWLA Le Chien is the local chapter of the Louisiana Dutch Oven Society.

Last weekend, the group held their Sportsman’s Wild Game Cook-off — that I had the opportunity to judge — of which Don Richard won with his exquisite paella.

Before I write a few words about Richard’s creation, here is some information about the group.

According to Randy Hebert, spokesman along with being vice president of the Louisiana Dutch Oven Society, Le Chein Cookers was founded last year for people who love cooking outside in black iron pots. Sam Houston Jones State Park is where the area group meets.

“My mission is to create a chapter in other parts of south Louisiana for the purpose of teaching, demonstrating and preserving the art of Dutch oven cooking,” he said. “Our motto is: Good folks gathering for great food and great fun.”

Other chapters are located at Chicot State Park, Lake Bistineau State Park, Lake Claiborne State Park, Palmetto Island State Park and Lake D’Arbonne State Park.

“It’s about the food and challenging ourselves with this method of cooking,” Hebert said.

Richard’s paella was cooked in a large and shallow cast iron pot.

“I thought about getting a paella pan. But this works good,” he said while stirring rice into the meat and vegetable medley.

The paella’s aroma was wonderful. When I caught a whiff of the dish, about an hour after Richard started preparing it, flashbacks of all of the wonderful outdoor prepared dishes I have eaten, darted through my brain.

Is there anything better than food cooked outside?

I think not.

Richard’s paella featured rice, lima beans, pork, clams, shrimp, sausage, red fish, cilantro, and a few other ingredients that made the dish stand out.

“I saw some paella recipes and decided to do it. I figure by my third time, I will have it down,” he said.

Richard explained to everyone — who ventured towards his cooking station — what smelled so good.

He was as patient with curious foodies as he was stirring the pot.

That was the overall atmosphere at the gathering which was special. The society is getting its message over, one good dish at a time.

To know more, visit www.ladutch.com.

• • •

Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at ecormier@americanpress.com or 494-4090.

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