Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Alligator Jambalaya!

When your younger brother is coming for a over with his girlfriend from NYC, what better way to test her out than alligator jambalaya? (she passed this test, btw, as well as the steak tartare and rillette (lard) test - we'll let him keep her). :) It was really good - sez the bona fide Southerner from Alabama we had at the table - creamy, well-spiced, and great flavors.

Alligator is apparently tough and stringy, so almost any recipe (unless you're cooking it for ages and ages) calls for pounding alligator fillets with a meat mallet. We did this, and found that the alligator disintegrated into the jambalaya, which was disappointing. Next time, we'll pound any fillets that we want to braise or fry, but simply cut into chunks without pounding for longer cooking.

(adapted from this recipe - it credits Chef John Folse, but I can't see where the original recipe comes from) We served this with Amaranth Greens Picayune.

Alligator Jambalaya
1 lb alligator fillet, thawed
1 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into 1" rounds
1 lb shredded pork butt (leftover BBQ is great for this!)
(or, substitute 1 lb shrimp or fish, 1 lb hot Italian sausage or andouille, and 1 lb pork, chicken or duck)

4 Tbl vegetable oil
1 cup green bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped

2 (16oz) cans chopped tomatoes
1 (16oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped green onion

2 Tbl dried basil
2 Tbl dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
2 (Turkish) bay leaves
1 tsp red pepper (paprika or cayenne, your choice for spiciness)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp green peppercorns
1 Tbl salt, or to taste
2 cups raw medium or long-grain white rice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a deep frying pan, saute the bell pepper, garlic, parsley and celery in oil.
  3. In another frying pan, brown the sausage in a little oil.
  4. While this is cooking, add tomatoes and their liquid, the chicken stock, and green onion to a pot with a lid that can cook on the stove and in the oven (Corningware, All-Clad, etc.).
  5. Add the sauteed vegetables, spices, rice and meats to the tomatoes and stock.
  6. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally to ensure rice doesn't burn.
  7. Bake, covered, in the oven for 25 minutes.

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