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Dec 30

Tales From the Feed Bag: Alligator

This Christmas I received a special gift from my parents, the gift of food, which is one of my most favorite gifts of all.  My mother (knowing that I love them but my wife doesn’t) fashioned me a series of individual pork pies for later baking.  These have turned out to be just as good in their diminutive form as they are in their original form.

My father, knowing that I like to try new things, scored me four unique offerings; alligator, wild boar, antelope, and kangaroo.  I opted to try the alligator first.  Here’s how it went down:

The instructions said to be sure and trim off any excess fat and sinew before cooking, so I did.  Immediately it was obvious that this was not like chicken or fish…to look at the flesh it was in the shape of something like chicken strips but was the color of catfish.  Its texture (in raw form) was neither…similar to fish, but tougher.

I checked it for bones, cleaned it thoroughly, dried it, then started with the cooking.  I didn’t want to stew it or do anything that might hide or cover the flavor too much.  Online, most of the recipes deep fried it.  I decided to split the difference and bread it with panko and a little creole seasoning, then pan fry it almost like a chicken parmesan.  As a dipping sauce, I consulted Old Man Internet again and found something called ‘swamp sauce’ which was pretty much a mustard and horseradish mayo with hot sauce and lemon stirred in.  The end result looked like this:

How was it?  I’ll say right off the bat it does not taste like chicken.  It tasted like a white fish but stronger, and had the texture of something more like a large clam.  It was a little on the chewy side, though this might be due to my inexperience with cooking it – it wasn’t obnoxiously tough or anything, but it  did require a little extra chewin’.

I liked it.  I would like to experiment more with it, and may now that I know where to find it.  Next time I cook it I’ll either do a stew or I’ll use a buttermilk marinade overnight to tenderize it first.

The alligator crisped up nicely in the toaster oven the next day, and reheated pretty well.  All in all, my first foray into this year’s Christmas Feed Bag has been a good one.

 

As a side note, once it was cooked I  cut off a small sliver to see if any of the cats would go for it.  The only taker was this guy:

Which further proves my point that he will try anything, no matter how unfamiliar, as long as it’s food.  He enjoyed it, having no idea that it came from a giant, scary monster that could easily eat him in seconds.

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