There’s turducken — a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey. But for barbecue master Toby Rodriguez of Grand Coteau-based Lache Pas Boucherie et Cuisine, a hardcore Cajun catering operation that conducts on-site cochon de laits and other gastro-cultural wonders, the turducken is child’s play.
"This is definitely not a turducken," Rodriquez says with pride as he tends his creation.
Enter “Franken-Lamb,” smoked venison sausage stuffed in a suckling pig stuffed in a lamb. That’s worth repeating: sausage stuffed in a pig stuffed in a lamb, which rhymes with damn. Two Franken-Lambs are roasting on spits over open fires in front of the Acadiana Center for the Arts as this is written in anticipation of Tuesday evening’s Runaway Dish dinner, a fundraiser-slash-culinary celebration put on by Denny and Katie Culbert; the couple also produces a beautiful food journal of the same name. (Denny is a gifted food photographer whose work has graced the pages of IND Monthly.)
Rodriguez says he arrived at the Franken-Lamb — the name is inspired by Frankenstein — through trial and error. The process he settled on is to first bake the piglet at 250 degrees for four hours. Meanwhile the lamb, raised by a local 4-H Club member, is slaughtered and hung for two weeks to age. While the lamb ages, the lightly cooked stuffed piglet is dropped in a vat of lard and sits there, no doubt with a forlorn look on its puckered little face, also for two weeks ago. After the lamb is marinated and injected with seasonings, it’s stuffed with the pig, tied up to keep its porcine pouch intact, thrown on adjustable spits Rodriguez borrowed from New Orleans chef Donald Link and placed over an open fire.
The coals for the fire are the product of an interesting contraption: two metal barrels welded together one atop the other with a grill separating them and a propane line running into the middle; the propane produces a constant flame; logs are tossed into the top barrel and as the logs burn down to coals the coals fall through the grill and into the bottom of the lower barrel from where they are shoveled out and transferred to the roasting pits. Rodriguez says he fabricated the coal dispenser overnight.
Tonight’s Runaway Dish will raise funds to help the AcA underwrite “Biophilia,” the new multi-media art installation housed in the center’s Art Loft that was produced by AcA artist-in-residence Leah Graeff in concert with photographer Kristie Cornell and musician Allison Bohl DeHart. “Biophilia” opened at the AcA during this past Saturday’s ArtWalk and will remain at the AcA until April 30 with a Sunrise Performance set for 7 a.m. Sunday, March 16.
“It’s kind of cool that we can take care of our own in that way — a group of artists coming together to support what you’re doing, not just morally but monetarily also,” Rodriguez says of the collaboration between Runaway Dish and the AcA.
Also on the menu for tonight’s seven-course Runaway Dish: asparagus, beats and scallops; a ginger salad; red fish courtbouillon; melon and squash pasta with ricotta; quinoa risotto with tenderloin; and a dessert.