Last year I was given a deck of cards for Christmas. It wasn’t just an ordinary deck of cards; it was a “Deck O’ Meals.” A deck of cards designed to “showcase the unique food of Southern Louisiana.” Wisely, the makers of this unique card deck put a magnetic strip on the back of the box, making the side of the refrigerator it’s perfect home.
Recently I decided to play the Eight of Diamonds and try my hand at alligator. While I’ve had blackened alligator bites as an appetizer at a few southern restaurants, this was my first attempt at preparing it at home. Not living far enough south to hunt my own wild alligator, I had to find an outlet which sold it. As luck would have it, The Cajun Cleaver, a specialty butcher shop near where I live in Central Alabama had just what I needed and got me all set up.
Before starting the recipe, I was conversing with a close friend. He shot me a bit of helpful advice before I started cooking, and I’m certain it contributed to the final dish quality.
Chef Patrick Bryan
“Looking at your recipe, make sure your veggies are sizzling hot so you sear the gator good going in the pan. If not, it tends to get rubbery.”
Having followed Chef Bryan’s advice, I added the cubed alligator chunks to the “sizzling hot” veggies and got a good sear on it. Once seared, I dropped the temperature of the pan, followed the instructions on the card, and allowed the entire mixture to simmer for 40 minutes. What I ended up with was an amazingly mouth watering dish of tender, succulent bites. Perfectly seasoned, tasty alligator and veggies. I would liken the flavor to a cross between red and white meat. In my opinion, these scrumptious little bites would land somewhere around halfway between pork loin and rib-eye.
While the “cell phone snapshot” of my final product won’t win any food magazine photography awards, suffice it to say there were no leftovers. Admittedly, some of my northern friends balked at the idea of eating alligator. However, after trying this dish I eagerly anticipate trying other recipes from my “Deck O’ Meals!”