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Gopher Tortoise Stew

JenniferJennifer Stuart

Also known as the “Hoover chicken,” the gopher tortoise was a staple in the diets of Minorcans, Florida natives, and Depression-era families. The exact composition of Gopher Tortoise Stew depended on what ingredients were available at the time, but this is a typical recipe. Today, the gopher tortoise is a protected species, but you can substitute alligator or pork.

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  • Alligator or pork meat
  • Salt pork
  • onion, chopped
  • bell pepper, chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • tomatoes, diced
  • potatoes, diced
  • bay leaves
  • datil pepper
  • datil pepper sauce
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  • 1

    Cut meat into 2-inch pieces and simmer in salted water until tender. In a large Dutch oven, fry some salt pork until crisp and the fat is rendered. Add meat and brown. Add a generous amount of chopped onion, some chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, diced tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.

  • 2

    Then add the water the meat was cooked in, some diced potatoes, a few bay leaves, salt and black pepper to taste, and a fresh datil pepper or a dash of datil pepper sauce. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours over low heat. If necessary, thicken stew with a little flour dissolved in water, or some mashed hard-boiled egg yolks. For those that could afford the luxury of dry sherry, a dash would be added just before serving.

  • 3

    Serve piping hot with rice and corn pone.

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