Jun 122007

Lea and I have undertaken a major retooling of our respective diets. If we have genuine hope of effecting lifelong changes, then it’s critical that we keep dinner interesting, but not calorically disastrous. So the beef and/or pork is down to about weekly. What are we having instead? Say it with me: chicken and fish. We’ve got a couple of good meatless meals in the rotation as well.

The main problem with fish is that you pretty much have to cook and eat it the day you buy it. So chicken is a much more convenient choice for a weekly grocery trip. And I get burned out on chicken. Mind, I eat it correctly–I don’t even have much of a taste anymore for the skin, for example, except for the occasional hot wings–but there’s only so much you can do with it.

Part of my chicken fatigue is my dad’s fault. Between my parents’ divorce and his remarriage–so, during a period of 27 months–he baked 7,429 pounds of lemon chicken.

I liked lemon chicken, but this was definitely too much of a good thing. Thanks to corporate radio programming, I haven’t had the first Boston album out in 20 years for the same reason.

Anyway, about 3:00 yesterday, I decided I wanted to mix it up a bit for dinner. There are several “exotic” meats that slot well into a proper diet, and in fact we had already discussed including something interesting from time to time, as budget and adventurous spirit allowed. So I went by Tim’s Specialty Meats on the way home and picked up two pounds of alligator–one pound for dinner, and a backup pound in case I screwed the first one up.

I’ve had alligator a few times before and enjoyed it. There’s usually a guy selling gator-on-a-stick at Big Spring Jam, and the Original Oyster House has a fried alligator appetizer that we like. But I was interested in preparing it in a way that didn’t add a lot of calories, so frying was out. After poking around online a bit, I settled on this recipe.

I’m pleased to say that strictly from a cooking perspective, I nailed it. The meat was done and tender, but not rubbery. Unfortunately, the mix of spices struggled for acceptance at my house. Lea tried it, but wasn’t crazy about it, and Nathan saw her not being crazy about it, so then he was done too. (Too bad, because he likes the alligator appetizer at the beach.) We made no serious attempt to feed it to Aaron. Insert maxim about picking your battles here.

It wasn’t the culinary masterpiece I was hoping for, but I liked it well enough. So I ate about half of it with a little red beans and rice, while everyone else ate light smoked sausage, pressed into emergency service. God bless the microwave oven.

The rest of last night’s meat is in the refrigerator, and I may eat some of it for breakfast tomorrow. We’ll see. I don’t know what the fridge life of cooked gator is, but I wouldn’t think 36 hours would do it in.

I’ll follow the same general cooking directions with the other pound that’s in the freezer, though I’m picking the spices and quantities myself this time out. I’ll probably still be the only person in the house who eats it, but hey, live and learn.

Naturally, there are other interesting things out there. We haven’t tried rabbit yet, though that’s just another stop at Tim’s away. We’ve gotten buffalo steaks a time or two, and they’re absolutely phenomenal if your cooking preference is rare or medium rare. I want to try elk. I suspect I’d like rattlesnake, but I haven’t seen it online for any less than $33 a pound, and I don’t want to try it that badly.

If this gets boring, then I’ll be in real danger of letting the effort at more prudent living fall away again, and I can’t let that happen this time.

Fortunately, the animal kingdom is large.

Thanks to germes-online.com for the fish image and birdsasart.com for the alligator image.

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 Posted by at 10:40 pm

  5 Responses to “Day of the gator”

  1. It’s good to be at the top of the food chain, baby!

  2. The first thing I thought, when you said not fried, was that you are going to have to grill it then. I had to laugh when I checked out the recipe – any meat that you have to individual season every cube is gamey! Ha ha. Just a word of warning, rabbit is pretty gamey, too. I like it when in the right mood.

    There used to be a restaurant in N.O. (T.Pittari’s) that served lots of gameall game – elk, bear, hippopotamus? This article has images of some of their old menus. I would bet those guys had great recipes.

  3. You know, I left a couple of cubes naked just to see, and it really wasn’t all that gamey. There was an eensy-teensy bit of it right at the end, but that was it.

    I didn’t eat it for breakfast, but I was going to eat some of it for dinner tonight. I don’t know what the exact fridge life of it is, but it’s somewhere south of 48 hours. It didn’t taste very good at all, and I threw it out.

  4. I wonder if they have farm-raised gator now? That would make a big difference in how they taste! 🙂

  5. Do you like duck breast? Hodges usually makes poppers from them for company eats and likely has a good bit in his freezer.

    If it ever rains again, we just might have a good harvest come duck season — not to mention a good cause to shoot for: feed the poor little Bos in Alafrica.

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