Beef, chicken, pork, or fish? After a while, the choices all start to seem the same. So how about alligator? Andrew Zimmern, the infamous host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, says, "With so many Americans living below the poverty line and so many going hungry, gator represents yet another healthy alternative to feedlot beef and factory-farmed hog or chicken." While we're a long way from having alligator every week, it does seem like that's something worth trying.
So what does alligator taste like? According to the folks over at Exotic Meats USA, purveyors of all types of interesting meats including alpaca, black bear, and lion, as with many other animals, texture and flavor vary according to what part of the animal you're eating. Overall, though, alligator tastes like chicken, but leaner, and often reminds people of rabbit.
The best cut of meat comes from the tail; it's white-fleshed and tender like veal if not overcooked. Meat from the rest of the body tends to be darker and more full-flavored, but is also tougher.
As for where to buy alligator meat, the easiest place to go is online. Exotic Meats USA ships to all 50 states, and some other reputable purveyors include Exotic Meat Market, Louisiana's Best Seafood, and Cajun Grocer.
So give it a shot, and surprise little Timmy at the dinner table. Let him take a bite of gator, get ready with the camera, and then tell him what it is — it'll be one for the family photo album.
First, a Word of Caution
Alligator gets pretty tough and dry when overcooked. Says Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods, "Alligator is one of the most abused foods on the planet. Most often served fried after being frozen for an age and a half, it's gimmicky fare under most conditions. You see overcooked alligator ribs, crispy nuggets, oily sausage… the list goes on and on. That's unfortunate because when it's fresh, and filleted properly, and then cooked with just a hint of finesse, anyone who tastes it can see the possibilities for this stunning alternative protein." So make sure to use high-quality alligator meat, and don't overcook it!
Gator Tail Picadillo
This traditional Cuban comfort food dish gets an interesting twist, using gator, of course.
Grilled Citrus Gator Ribs
A citrus marinade and orange marmalade glaze makes these ribs irresistible.
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