I wasn’t very afraid of cooking alligator, because all I had ever heard was that it “tastes like chicken.” For some reason, I’ve always thought that it was alligator or crocodile that was at the root of that joke, and that a blind taste tester would be definitely be fooled if he was presented with chicken and croc bits that had come out of the same bag of shake and bake. It will come as no surprise to people familiar with eating alligator that in this case, I was wrong. For all I know, crocodile is being swapped for chicken in TV dinners around the world as we speak, but trying to do the same with alligator would be a dead giveaway.
I bought the frozen alligator in the same shopping trip to Black Angus Fine Meats and Game I’ve talked about in my last few entries, and I decided to break it out as an appetizer when my foodie friend came over for a visit the other day. It was a pricey appy at $15.99/lb, which is how much I bought, but she’s an old and dear friend, so she’s worth it (and now that I’ve complimented her she might make the effort to leave comments at the end of this blog). Here is a photo of the starting point:
I thawed it in the microwave and then decided to deep fry it using a thick beer batter, even though I’m not a regular fryer, as a rule. It’s messy and unhealthy, so I usually avoid it, but I have been known to fry up a legendary fish and chips occasionally by following Jamie Oliver’s advice, and I thought that this might be the easiest way to serve up reptile in bite sized chunks. Hey, I hadn’t thought of this before – we just basically ate dinosaur. Cool.
Anyway, as I first began to cut the filets, I knew there would be a problem. My kitchen scissors, which I use for efficient stir frying and such, met with tension once in every few snips. It was like I was cutting a really grisly piece of meat, and I wondered if that would have an impact on the finished product. It had exactly the impact I would have expected in finding gristle in the raw version of what I was trying to cook. Gristle in the cooked version. It looked pretty on the outside….
…and the batter was tasty, but each piece of alligator was hit or miss, and even the hits were foul balls instead of home runs. It was all very chewy – I thought as I was eating it that calamari lovers might like it – but some pieces were fishier and gristlier than others, and that would be hard for anyone to take. At one point I said to my friend, “Hey, I just had a good piece,” but even that one was pretty chewy. My new experience would make me avoid alligator completely in future, at home or in restaurants, unfortunately. But the dips and batter I had chosen were nice, if I do say so myself.
Beer Battered Alligator Bites
- 1lb alligator, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 12oz can of beer. I used Mill Street Organic (excellent)
- 1 1/2C flour
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1tsp paprika
- 1C flour, for dredging
Further battering instructions here.
Dip #1 – Parsley Onion Dip
(I modified the green goddess submissions here based on what I had on hand, listed below…)
- Handful of parsley
- Green onions
- Red onion
- Splash of lemon juice
Combine all in food processor, but make sure herb and veggie portions are generous.
Dip #2 – Pre-prepared “President’s Choice Sweet with Heat Prepared Mustard”
(apologies to non-Canadians, just go with Dip #1 if you can’t find this, or pick up a fancy sweet mustard. For Canadians: this dip may have been the highlight of the appetizer)
Rating: 1 Gag.
It was all the alligator’s fault that my recipe didn’t work, so the man-eater will pay for it in my rating. We ate lots of it because we were hungry, but I wouldn’t make it again. Sorry Louisiana swamp people – you may need to consider sources of revenue beyond gators.