Every once in a while, we get a hankering for alligator. Once on the verge of extinction, American gator has come back from the brink. You might as well eat it. Grin. Thank goodness, gator comes from an adjoining state to Arkansas–Louisiana–so it’s sort of local. Arkansas actually has gator too, but Arkansas gator doesn’t show up in markets; it’s just not that widespread here, and it’s usually an accident when it ends up as far north as even the edge of the Ozarks.
Some people ask me what gator tastes like. I would say, “It tastes like chicken,” but that’s just not true. I think gator tastes like frog legs, but with a lot chewier texture. No, frog legs don’t taste like chicken either. They taste like an incredibly mild fish with a texture that’s like the softest, moistest chicken you ever had. Both frog legs and gator are family-friendly food; their flavor is mild, somehow familiar, and they can be prepared like your kids’ chicken nuggets, only much tastier. I can also easily imagine a table of kids who would be delighted to nosh on an animal that’s so much like a dinosaur, such a big predator.
When we buy gator, we usually treat it like the Louisiana product that it is in this neck of the woods. We’ll marinate it in a mixture of buttermilk and Tabasco to tenderize it. Then we shake off the excess moisture, dip it in seasoned flour, and pan fry it.
We like gator with cole slaw.
Try it too with remoulade, a French-Cajun sauce that’s a fancier, tastier version of tartar sauce. Gator is pretty tasty in etoufee or gumbo too, but if you overcook gator it will go from a pleasant al dente to rubbery. You could also do smaller gator chunks, fried as above, as appetizers for a party.
Do you have questions about cooking gator? Do you have a gator recipe you’d like to share or advice about its preparation? Jump in!
By the way, alligator attacks on full-grown humans are rare, but you should always supervise children and pets near where gators could be hanging out. And never, ever, ever feed an alligator. You’ll make it associate humans with dinner, and none of us want gators thinking that way!
Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. Short excerpts with a full URL link and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome. Please contact me for permission to use photographs.