Never go skinny dippin’ after dark…
Now first of all, we don’t get alligator meat too often. I suppose it would be rare in fact to have any as hunting alligators along the Delta has a short open season. I don’t even know if we’re in season or not. I have never been out all night on a hunt for gators so I really don’t know when it occurs but I think it’s in the fall. In case you’re wondering, I have no desire to test the water, to go near gator play grounds during the night for that matter. Some do and I suspect some don’t live to tell about it. And for those who do go hunting, maybe you can tell me if it’s legal to keep the meat. I know of some neighbors who go out all night, coming back each morning with some real big stories to tell, but no gators. Occasionally I come across imported meat from Louisiana or Florida and heck, I’ve heard alligator meat is now on several fancy menus around the US so I thought it only fittin’ to serve it up to you.
This recipe is an adaption to one going back a long way folks, back to 1903 from a cookbook entitled, La Cuisine Créole À L’Usage Des Petits Ménages by Célestine Eustis or better known as Cooking In Old Créole Days, the classic expositions in Creole Cuisines. Printed bilingual in French and English and with some fine illustrations.
However you obtain your alligator meat, or chicken for some, be sure to simmer it slowly in seasoned water on very low temperature until tender. Use only the choicest meat, as told in recipes, and reduce the stock to make it extra rich for added flavor.
Cajun Alligator Croquettes
or Chicken if ‘fin you’re not from the deep south
2 cups chopped cooked alligator (or chicken meat)
12 large oysters, reserve the liquor (or 8 oz jarred mushrooms, reserve liquid)
2 tablespoons diced green onion
2 tablespoons diced red onion
2 tablespoons diced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
Good pinch of fresh thyme and parsley, minced
1 or2 tablespoons Cajun seasonings
Yolks of 2 eggs
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup (4 oz) strong chicken stock
1/4 cup (2 oz) heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 eggs mixed with a little cream
Freshly toasted breadcrumbs
Chopped the alligator meat with the drained oysters (or chicken and mushrooms) to a fine consistency. Add the vegetables, seasonings and herbs and put aside.
Beat the egg yolks with the milk and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add the butter over medium heat and when melted stir in the flour until absorbed. Slowly stir in the chicken stock, cream and the oyster liquor (or mushroom liquid) with stock if needed to make an additional 2 ounces. Stir to form a thick sauce and then stir in the alligator mixture (or chicken) along with the vegetables, seasonings and lemon juice. Remove from heat and fold in the yolk mixture. Stir to incorporate and return to heat stirring until heated thoroughly and very creamy. Remove from heat and pour into an oblong dish to cool. Place in refrigerator.
When mixture is completely cold, remove and using your fingers dusted heavily with flour, quickly gather a little of mixture (over a quarter cup) to form into a ball. Use enough flour to keep mass from becoming sticky and flatten between you palms to form a croquette. Dust with flour and quickly brush the tops with beaten egg mixture and sprinkle well with the breadcrumbs. Invert and repeat coating other side with breadcrumbs. Place on a tray and let these dry out for about an hour.
Fry these in hot lard or oil to a delicate brown color and drain.