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Bite Down, Low-Fat Alligator Meat Is Healthy for You to Eat

By on June 13, 2016 in Featured, National Health News with 0 Comments
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Depending on taste, alligator meat is a delicacy, a novelty dish or downhome good eatin’. At the Vermilion Gator Farm, it’s a valuable by-product of a bigger operation.

by Ed Lallo and Springfield Lewis/Newsroom Ink

Depending on taste, alligator meat is a delicacy, a novelty dish or downhome good eatin’. At the Vermilion Gator Farm, it’s a valuable by-product of a bigger operation.

“The price we get now is much higher than it has ever been,” said Craig Sagrera, who co-owns the gator farm with family members.

Alligator meat is easily digestible and has a delicate flavor that can be enhanced by a chef’s culinary expertise. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

Alligator meat is easily digestible and has a delicate flavor that can be enhanced by a chef’s culinary expertise. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

A couple of factors have driven up the price.  The reality TV show, “Swamp People,” is definitely one reason. The other stems from a market drop – combined with an inventory shortage.

“During the past few years, Mother Nature has been responsible for a limited supply of farm-raised meat” – along with “one year of a limited wild production,” said Mark Shirley of Louisiana State University (LSU) Agricultural Center (AgCenter) and Sea Grant.

“Now, we are getting back to more normal levels for both farm and wild meat.”

Price Per Pound

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The meat from farm raised and wild alligators are “both great. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom ink

Vermilion Gator Farm gets $1.75 to $2.50 a pound for gator. The whole carcass on the bone is sold to processors, with no trimming. Processors usually get a 40-percent yield of useable meat.

“Four years ago, I was only selling only the tail and the back strap, which is equivalent to approximately 30 percent of the meat on the gator, for a mere $.75 a pound,” Sagrera recalled.

From the processing plants, where to meat is removed from the bone, it’s then sold wholesale for $7 to $8 a pound. After distributors deliver it to a store or restaurant, consumers will pay between $10 to $11 dollars a pound.

The meat from farm raised and wild alligators are “both great,” according to Segrera. Because of its size and uniformity, processing houses usually have an easier time in handling the smaller gators.

Gator – a “Health Meat”

“The meat from farm raised and wild alligators are “both great”. Farm meat is more uniform in size than wild, so   Gator Wings -the front legs of a gator – are all about the same size, a bonus for restaurants,” said LSU’s Shirley.

“Wild meat allows for a variety of sizes. However, the meat on older gators has a larger amount of fat that needs to be trimmed before cooking.”

So, what does alligator meat look and taste like?

Sagrera describes it as a “health meat” – white and firm. Plus, gator is low in cholesterol and fat, and rich with Omega 3.

“It is easily digestible and has a delicate flavor that can be enhanced by a chef’s culinary expertise.”

Prejean’s Alligator and Andouille Sauce Piquante

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Alligator meat is easily digestible and has a delicate flavor that can be enhanced by a chef’s culinary expertise. Photo: Ed Lallo/Louisiana Seafood News

People from around Acadiana and around the world stop in Lafayette to sample the savory dishes created by Prejean’s talented team of culinary experts.  This recipe was served to attendees at a Hong Kong trade show attended by representatives of the Louisiana alligator industry.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs of alligator meat rubbed with Cajun seasoning and cut into 1”x1” squares
  • ¼ cup plus tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 ¼ lbs of smoked Andouille that has been diced
  • 10 oz  of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup of margarine
  • 1/3 cup of dark roux
  • ¼ cup of chicken stock
  • 4 cups of chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 cup chapped bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh, chopped garlic
  • 3 cups of fresh, chopped mushrooms
  • 2 quarts of water
  • ½ cup chopped green onion bottoms
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • (Mixture of cornstarch and water optional for thickening)

Directions:

Rub both sides of the alligator meat with Cajun seasoning and cut into 1”x1” squares.  If possible, allow the meat to marinate overnight.

Using high heat, brown the alligator meat in the olive oil and remove from pot. Sauté Andouille in the same oil for five minutes and remove from pot.

Still on high heat, pour tomato sauce into the pot with remaining oil – stir until it is very brown, almost burned.  Keep stirring until a thick ball of paste forms.  Add margarine, roux, chicken base, chopped onions, bell peppers, celery, cayenne pepper, jalapeno peppers and sugar.  Sauté until onions are clear.

Return alligator and Andouille to pot.  Add garlic, mushrooms and 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a medium heat.

Cook for one hour, adding water as need.  Once alligator is tender, add the chopped green onions and parsley.  Add cornstarch and water to thicken gravy to taste. Serve over rice.

Bon Appetite!


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