I don’t cook alligator meat regularly, mostly because I don’t live in alligator country. But on a recent trip to Arkansas I was given a cooler full of alligator meat that was hunted locally by a farmer friend of mine. Since we were planning a big outdoor barbecue I decided to make it a finger-food appetizer, so people could spear it with a toothpick and enjoy it in small doses as a party food and alternate between their drink in one hand and a smoky bite of alligator in the other.
I used tail meat, which is often considered the most nutritional part of the alligator, but steak from the body and feat are also very lean and high in protein.
Alligator needs a good marinade to help tenderize it and impart a good flavor before cooking, so give yourself some time to let it sit before firing up the grill. You can play with a combination of flavorings, but be sure you include acid and salt in your mixture.
Use a strong flavored wood on your grill as well, and get the coals down to an even radiant heat of about 250 F. Serve it with a dipping sauce—I like barbecue sauce, but you could use something more sweet and tangy. Give it a try at your next summer cookout; you’ll be turning people into enthusiastic alligator eaters in no time.
2 pounds of alligator steak, cut into 1-inch cubes½ cup olive oil½ cup white wine vinegar1 teaspoon red pepper flakes2 tablespoons salt2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce¼ cup light brown sugar
1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir well until fully combined. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.
2. On a grill, over even radiant heat at 250 F, lay the pieces of alligator meat and close the lid. Smoke and barbecue for about 15 minutes, turning the pieces over with tongs, until they are cooked through.
3. Transfer to a platter and serve with toothpicks and barbecue sauce drizzled over the top.
Serves 10 as an appetizer.