By: Patricia Telesco
With the foodie trend in full force, many people are trying exotic meats, including alligator. Certain states are well known for cooking alligator, including Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, often as a staple to Creole cooking. But you don’t have to leave home to give it a try!
Cheekily called the “chicken of the swamp,” alligator lives up to that reputation. You might be hesitant, and understandably so. But it helps a bit to know what to expect from different parts of the gator. Just like other meats, some portions have a slightly different flavor profile depending on the cut. This changes the treatment in fried alligator recipes.
Part by Part
- Legs: Legs are dark meat. It’s a bit gamey and tough. People sometimes call them alligator wings and make them very similarly, including signature hot sauce.
- Ribs: If you slow-cook alligator ribs with a sweet or savory sauce, they become fall-off-the-bone perfection. Just make sure they don’t become dry. Also, don’t be fooled by the fact that the ribs are barely shrinking on the bone. Test them to make sure you don’t overcook.
In the tradition of pork ribs, you can smoke alligator ribs, too. Make sure you marinate for at least three hours. Go low and slow, adding a citrusy sauce at the end to caramelize and give them a nice crunch.
3.Tail: Think of the tail as you might a beautiful tenderloin. The tail has four lobes, all white meat. The wonderful aspect of tail in gator recipes is its versatility. You can smoke it, grill it, fry it, blacken it, or treat it like a steak. Alligator tail is juicy and tender. As a result, you really don’t have to marinate or add rub to the meat, but you can certainly do so for different layers of flavor.
Some of Cuso Cut’s All Natural Seasonings you can try as rubs on your alligator include:
Hot Honey and
- 3 lbs boneless alligator tail meat
- 4 c buttermilk
- 1 1/2 tbsp hot sauce
- 1 1/4 c stone ground mustard
- 21/4 tbsp creole seasoning
- 3 c chicken batter mix for frying
- Frying oil (peanut if possible)
- Using a Chef’s Knife, cut the gator meat into 1” cubes
- Mix the buttermilk, mustard, and hot sauce in a large container
- Add the alligator to the mix and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours
- Mix the batter mix with creole seasonings (or seasoning of your choice)
- Set up your fryer for 375F (you need at least 3” of oil for the best results)
- A few at a time, let meat cubes drip off, then dredge them in the dry mix
- Fry for 5 minutes until golden brown
PitMaster’s Memo: Exotic Meat
Earth contains many things that we may not think about eating like bugs (considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.) There is certainly no lack of recipes for exotic animals like fried alligator, but you may have to seek a specialty store to purchase pieces.
Alligator isn’t the only meat to make it into modern recipes. Others include frog, ostrich, turtle, boar, jellyfish, rattlesnake, elk, yak, and eel, just to name a few. Feeling adventurous? Expand your palate. Even if it turns out you don’t like the flavor, you’ll have one heck of a story to tell friends. Or, better still, have a tasting menu with friends!
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