Alligator is usually purchased frozen. Handle the meat as you would any other frozen product; mark the package with the date you purchased it and make sure it is tightly wrapped to prevent freezer burn. Thaw the meat in your refrigerator and use promptly. Do not refreeze once thawed.
If you are lucky enough to be able to buy fresh meat, here are several preparation tips. Remove all excess fat on the outside of the cut and between the meat layers. For extra tenderness, use a meat mallet or a cuber and then cut across the grain of the meat to yield meal-sized portions. For freezer storage, wrap tightly with cellophane and freezer paper to prevent freezer burn. A University of Florida study found that four months of frozen storage had no measurable effect on meat quality.
Alligator for Dinner
When compared to other meats, such as beef, chicken and fish, farm-raised alligator is low in fat and calories and high in protein.
Not only is alligator meat low in fat, but it is also low in saturated fatty acids and high in monounsaturated fatty acids. This is good news, since saturated fatty acids are generally recognized as a cause of increased cholesterol levels in the body and monounsaturated fatty acids are credited with decreasing cholesterol levels. This mix of fat types represents a correct balance from a dietary standpoint.
It is available in a variety of cuts including tail meat fillets, ribs, nuggets and wings. The extra lean white meat is firm with a fine, light-grained texture and mild flavor. The darker meat has a texture similar to pork shoulder and stronger flavor. Tail meat, the choicest cut, is a mild-flavored white meat and has a texture similar to veal. The ribs, nuggets and wings are darker meat with a stronger taste and texture similar to pork shoulder.
Delicious little alligator tacos that will make you want to run for the border. Tender pieces of marinated gator are deep-fried with a crisp cumin crust and served smoking hot on a handmade corn tortilla with melted queso and fire-roasted corn salsa.
For the alligator:
1 lb. alligator tenderloin
6 key limes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/3 cup toasted cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup corn oil
For the corn tortillas:
2 ears yellow corn
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
For the salsa:
1/2 cup shredded queso
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe tomato
2 key limes
Roast the corn briefly over an open flame and slice the kernels from the ears. Chop the corn coarsely in a food processor. Mix the cornmeal, flour, crushed garlic, 1/2 cup of water and the corn to make a thick paste. Roll out the tortilla dough into thin 3′ rounds on parchment paper or between sheets of plastic wrap, and fry in a hot skillet for about 45 seconds on each side.
Chop the alligator tenderloin into 1/2′ cubes. Marinate for an hour in the juice of the key limes and the crushed garlic. Mix the cumin, toasted cornmeal and 1/3 cup of flour. Dredge the gator cubes in the mixture. Bring the oil to 350 degrees and fry quickly in a skillet, turning once.
Roast the tomato briefly over an open flame and chop into tiny cubes. Chop the avocado into cubes of the same size. Mix the fire-roasted corn, tomato and avocado with the juice of 2 key limes to make the salsa.
Serve with sour cream, fresh crisp lettuce and shredded Mexican queso cheese.