Did you know the lean, mean alligator is know in the Bayou as the chicken of the swamp? Who knew? Apparently, lots of folk, and especially those who love their Cajun and Creole cooking. Turns out, alligator is the other white meat! Alligator is eaten pretty much where alligator is widely found, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana. Those are the only states where alligator hunting is legal, and furthermore, where alligator farms can be found.
If you’re into incorporating some exotic fare into your cooking, alligator is an excellent and delicious choice. But you have questions, you’re hesitant, we understand! Eating new foods can be intimidating. So let’s address the most important questions you have about eating alligator. After all, even the most adventurous foodie will ask: what does alligator taste like? And once that’s tackled, you’ll of course want to know how to cook alligator meat. Read on, you risk-taking gourmet!
Like any animal, alligator is made of different muscles, and the flavor and texture of the meat will vary according to what part of this swamp beast you’re eating. This will also influence how you cook the alligator meat, So let’s break it down and find what does alligator taste like and how to cook with alligator meat.
The most tender part is the tenderloin, which comes from the tail. The tail is divided into four lobes, cylindrically shaped, which can be pounded like veal for even more tenderness. This is the section that earns folks say tastes like chicken, meaning it’s mild and white. It’s also super juice and tender. A lot of alligator recipes calls for marinades, but that’s not really necessary for tender alligator tail.
Portioned into steaks or fillets, alligator tails are definitely considered a delicacy, and can be served up like any fine meat – grilled, pan-friend, etc. The flavor is mild and juicy, with a tender texture.
Alligator tail is usually (and we use the term loosely, as it’s not very usual to see alligator on the menu) served as an appetizer, seasoned and fried, and served with a rich sauce. This is mild and more chicken-like meat, which us why if you see a dish with alligator, it will more likely be this crowd-pleasing (or less frightening) cut.
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The legs and body of the alligator constitute the dark meat section, which is tougher and gamier, and delicious. Alligator legs are especially popular served up as “alligator wings”- fried to crispy brown perfection and eaten with a spicy sauce. It’s also great for grinding and mixing with pork or other meats for sausage.
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Prepared with a sweet glaze or citrus marinade, alligator ribs are a surprisingly delicious treat when braised in the oven until they fall of the bone. To avoid the ribs drying out, just cover with foil and voila, tender alligator ribs at home. Large, they have tons of meat on each rib that barely shrink when cooked – just don’t overcook or they’ll turn tough. If you have a smoker, alligator ribs are mouthwatering when smoked, so don’t be afraid to give them a turn on the smoker. Grilled alligator ribs are also delicious, just prep them with a marinade (a good 2 or 3 hours marinating time is recommended) and grill until tender.
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If you really want to go all the way, you can do a whole roasted alligator, carved at the table! This is what was served at the 110th annual dinner for The Explorer’s Club – and we all know those modern Indiana Jones, astronauts, and other adrenaline junkies love their adventurous dishes!
So, a bit less scared about eating alligator meat? We have some more good news: alligator meat is also healthy! Yes, who knew this scary beast could be good for you – you know, when it’s not coming at you with those pointy chompers. A 3.5-ounce serving has 143 calories, most of it from protein, just barely 3% total fat, 65 milligrams cholesterol, and 29 % protein. It’s carb free! Much healthier, and with less greenhouse gas emissions, alligator meat is also much better for the environment.
Ready to give alligator meat a shot? Try our delicious Fried Gator Recipe With Garlic Aioli Sauce below!