Spicy Fried Gator Nuggets with Remoulade
Bite the Gator
Even though I was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, hometown of the American Alligator as well as Tony Chachere, I'd never combined the two until one of my projects, Swamp Gravy, took me to extreme southwest Georgia. At a county fair, I was able to try Gator-on-a-Stick. I admit that I probably would not have tried the gator if it had not been on a stick. Face it, all food on a stick is fun. But there is only one thing I could think of that would make alligator even more fun to eat: nuggets. Everyone loves nuggets. Kids, grown-ups, circus clowns. The other thing I thought the Gator-on-a-Stick needed was some bite. What's Gator without teeth, anyway? So I went home and created this spicy recipe, using the ultimate spice from my hometown, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. To give it even more bite, I have also included my mom's trusty remoulade recipe.
Spicy Fried Gator Nuggets
1 1/2 pound alligator meat, cut into nuggets
2 egg whites
2 Tbs. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon pepper
2 tsp McIlhenny Tobasco sauce
1 tsp Calumet baking powder
2 tsp cornstarch
Â½ Bottle fresh beer
(you know what to do with the other Â½)
2 cups Pillsbury All-Purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Lemon Wedges for Garnish
1 quart Crisco oil (Mom always used Crisco and nothing else)
Step One: Get one good size gator tail. Now this can pose a problem, as you first have to go out and find the gator and explain to him his position in the food chain. This may pose a problem, as he may not agree.
Step Two: Once the two of you have come to a sound understanding, there's the part about lugging the gator back to the kitchen. This could be a big job, depending on how many people you're feeding. For a normal size Southern family, a three footer is fine. But if you've got a wedding reception or a baby shower, you're gonna need at least an 8 footer, which makes Step One a little more interesting.
Step One Alternative: In the Southern states (that being places where you order Iced Tea and it comes sweet) you'll be able to purchase a pound of Gator Meat at your local Winn Dixie or IGA in the deli section. It's pretty economical and can be found near the hog jowls. If you are up North or out west, check out your local Trader Joe's or Fresh Market meat counter. It will be between the Sushi Tuna and Filet Mignon, and it will cost you the arm or leg you may otherwise have lost in the original Step One.
Step Three: Prepare the tail. You only want to use good tail meat. The white meat is the best. Unless you like the taste of swamp water, you'll want to stick to the tail meat. Those with a more exotic taste can go for some rib meat. Cut the tail meat into nugget size pieces. Call the grandkids to help. They love nuggets. Make it a family event. Besides, you'll need the help.
Step Four: Assemble the ingredients:
In a bowl, add egg whites, Tony Chachere's seasoning, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, McIlhenny Tobasco sauce, baking powder and beer. Beat together until well mixed. Dissolve 2 tsp. cornstarch in a small amount of cold water and add to the liquid. Beat all ingredients until well mixed. Place a handful of nuggets in the egg solution. Coat well.
In a separate bowl with lid, mix all-purpose flour and yellow corn meal. Coat the nuggets in this mixture after dunking them in the egg solution, and prior to frying.
Heat oil to 375Â°F and fry for about 7 minutes or until they float to the top. Eat them as is, or try dipping them in a good old remoulade sauce. It's the tarter sauce of South Central LA. (Louisiana, that is.) Remoulade recipe follows.
Helpful Cooking Hints
When oil gets too hot, it may affect the taste of the nuggets. Keep the oil around 375 degrees.
Don't attempt to fry too many nuggets at one time. No mattter how tempting it may be to cook them all up at once and start eating them, resist the urge. If you put too many in at once, they will stick together. This could lead to uneven cooking, and will make gator blobs instead of gator nuggets.
Take a Bite Out of Gator?
Would You Ever Try Eating Gator?
There's as many different ways to make remoulade as there are to say it. But this is the one I learned from my mom, who is from Opelousas, Louisiana, the hometown of Tony Chachere. (And also where I was born.) The sauce starts, of course, with the Holy Trinity of Creole Cooking: Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper.
1 1/2 cups Duke's Mayonnaise
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup very thinly sliced green onion
2 TBS finely minced garlic
1/2 cup Gulden's spicy mustard
1/2 cup Heinz Ketchup
1/4 cup parsley plus 1 TBS for garnish (Fresh is best)
1 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS Worscester Sauce
2 TBS Horseradish
2 tsp McIlhenny Tobasco Sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
In a glass bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least four hours for the flavors to combine.
The finer you slice your celery and onion, the tastier the recipe will be. My grandpa used to be able to slice his veggies so thin you could read through them.
If you make the Remoulade a day ahead, you will have a tasty sauce with full bodied flavor.
Handy Short Cut
If you don't have the time to go out and get your own Gator, or if your local grocery is all out, you can purchase both Alligator Meat and Remoulade Sauce online. Of course, nothing beats fresh, but Zatarain's makes a good Commercial sauce.
Alligator Meat you can order
Delivered straight to your door
Order it directly, keep it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Have it on hand for family gatherings. Everyone loves Gator Nuggets.