Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alligator Chili: A Treat For Curious Eaters

NF Note: Alligators in chili? That's not common around these parts. However, we know there are scores of Fayette County citizens who have their roots down in the bayou.

(NAPSI)-It's time to set the record straight on an often misunderstood Louisiana delicacy.

Those who are leery of trying Louisiana alligator meat often fear that the flavor will be too exotic, but Chef John Folse, a Louisiana restaurateur, knows otherwise. "Alligator is one of those swamp floor pantry ingredients that adapt so well to all of the cooking techniques in Southern cooking," said Folse. "So whether served in a classic fashion or smothered in a sauce piquante, the flavor of alligator is excellent."

Folse introduces curious eaters to alligator meat at his restaurant, Lafitte's Landing at Bittersweet Plantation in Donaldsonville, La. It is here that Chef Folse serves alligator sausage as an appetizer. The meat's leanness and versatility have put its popularity on the rise, and alligator meat is appearing in kitchens just as notable as Chef John Folse's around the country. This recipe is from his cookbook:

Alligator Chili

Prep Time: 1.5 Hours

Yields: 6 Servings

3 pounds alligator meat, diced

½ cup vegetable oil

2 cups diced onions

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced bell peppers

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons diced jalapeño peppers

1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans

3 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Granulated garlic to taste

In a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add alligator and sauté 20 minutes to render juices. Add onions, celery, bell peppers, minced garlic and jalapeño peppers and sauté 3−5 minutes or until wilted. Add pinto beans, tomato sauce and chicken stock. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to simmer. Stir in chili powder and cumin and cook approximately 1 hour or until alligator is tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste using salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Serve over spaghetti, if desired.

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