Cajun Nutria Poutine

“Water rabbits” add exceptional flavor to Canadian French fries

Nutria is considered one of the most invasive species in Louisiana due to its detrimental effects on coastal ecosystems. These cute water rabbits, as I like to call them, consume large quantities of wetland vegetation and are burrowing animals, causing soil erosion, wetland degradation, and displacement of some native species.

Nutria has been a problem along Louisiana’s coastline for as long as I can remember. So much so that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has created a Nutria Control Program that involves monetary incentives for trappers, with the hope of encouraging coastal trappers to control nutria numbers.

When I hear about a new or problematic invasive species, my first thought is, “I wonder what they taste like?”

Due to their diet of aquatic vegetation, they have a mild flavor much like rabbit. Hence, why I refer to them as water rabbits. While nutria is similar in flavor to rabbit, I find it a bit tougher in texture, which requires longer cooking times. I developed this recipe based on one of my favorite Canadian dishes, poutine. This popular Canadian dish typically features fries, cheese curds, and gravy. In my version of poutine, I’ve added a Cajun twist by using nutria, in hopes that it will encourage others to help out our dying coast and enjoy some tasty food while they’re at it.


  • 4 Large Russet Potatoes
  • 2 Pounds of Nutria, cut into quarters
  • 2 Cups of Cheese Curds
  • 8 Ounces of Pancetta or Bacon
  • ¼ Cup of Vegetable Oil
  • ½ Cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup of Finely Chopped Onions
  • 1 Cup of Finely Chopped Bell Peppers
  • 1 Cup of Finely Chopped Celery
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 4 Cups of Stock
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Cajun Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Chopped Green Onions or Chives for Garnish


  1. Start by seasoning the nutria; heavily season the nutria pieces with salt and black pepper, then dredge them in ¼ cup of all-purpose flour, reserving the remaining ¼ cup of all-purpose flour for the roux.
  2. In a Dutch oven, cook the pancetta or bacon until all the fat is rendered out, and the pancetta is crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan and reserve it as a garnish.
  3. In the same Dutch oven, sear the nutria pieces on all sides in the pancetta fat. Once the meat is seared on all sides, remove it from the Dutch oven.
  4. Add the vegetable oil to the Dutch oven and whisk in the flour to create the roux. It is essential to cook the roux over medium heat while stirring often to ensure it does not burn. Cook the roux for 5-8 minutes until it is golden brown and has a nutty aroma.
  5. Once the roux is golden brown, add the chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and translucent. Add in 1 tablespoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning during the vegetable cooking process.
  6. After the vegetables are cooked, add the minced garlic and stock. Stir well to ensure the roux is dissolved into the stock, and no lumps remain. Add the nutria pieces back to the Dutch Oven and place the lid on it.
  7. Simmer, or place in the oven at 300°F, the nutria and veggies for 3-4 hours or until tender and falling off the bone.
  8. Monitor the liquid level in the Dutch oven throughout the cooking process to ensure the meat is braising properly and not drying out. Taste the gravy about halfway though the cooking process and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add additional Cajun seasoning and/or salt and pepper to taste.
  9. While the nutria gravy is cooking, wash and cut the potatoes into even-sized matchsticks. Soak the cut potatoes in cold water for about 15-20 minutes to remove excess starch. This helps the fries achieve a crispier texture.
  10. Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or a large, deep pot to 325°F. While the oil is coming to temperature, drain and dry the potatoes.
  11. Carefully add a batch of the soaked and drained potato sticks to the hot oil. Fry for about 4-5 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through but not yet golden brown.
  12. Remove the partially cooked fries from the oil using a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined tray or plate and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  13. Heat the oil again, this time to a higher temperature, around 375°F. Carefully add the cooled fries in batches, frying for an additional 2-3 minutes or until they become golden brown and crispy.
  14. Remove the fries from the oil, allowing excess oil to drain on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle the twice-fried fries with salt while they are still hot.
  15. Once the meat is tender, remove it from the pot, shred the meat, and remove the bones. Then, return the nutria meat back to the gravy.
  16. Now it is time to assemble this Cajun-Canadian Masterpiece! On a serving plate, layer a generous portion of hot, crispy fries. Sprinkle cheese curds evenly over the fries. Next, pour the hot gravy over the fries and cheese curds, ensuring the cheese begins to melt. Garnish with the crispy pancetta and finely chopped green onions or chives.

Serve piping hot and enjoy with your favorite adult beverage!