3/25/2013 01:00:00 PM

The Best Thing We Ate This Weekend: Whole Smoked Alligator at Frontier

Alligator chomping down on its last meal
It’s a jungle out there, or at least it felt like one at Frontier this weekend when a three-foot long alligator was paraded around the restaurant by a knife-wielding chef Brian Jupiter. Yes, alligator is just one of the beasts smoked or roasted and served whole. We could have opted for pig, goat, wild hog (or even maybe llama in the near future) but we went straight for the most exotic offering on the list – gator, fresh from the swamps of California (or an alligator farm).

Our alligator was skinned and season with a combination of oil and spices before being stuffed with grilled chicken breasts (because even a dead alligator deserves a tasty last meal) and spending some quality time in the smoker. To keep the meat moist, it’s finished with a few hours in the oven. After a brief trip around the restaurant to pose for pictures, the gator meets its fate – the sharp side of Jupiter’s knife. The first step is ripping the poor suckers head off, then the alligator is broken down into body and tail. Although it is all white meat, different parts of the animal have different flavors – the neck and ribs have more of a fishy flavor while the tail and body really do taste like chicken with a briny aftertaste.

Jupiter served our alligator with a side of succotash, johnnycakes and jambalaya with shrimp and Andouille sausage. He also makes two sauces in house to pair with the tender meat – a traditional barbeque and a white Alabama barbeque sauce with a horseradish base. So did the creature actually taste good or was this all just for show and a cool story to tell to our fine readers? It was delicious; the small alligator retained a lot of moisture during the cooking process while picking up flavors from the spices and smoker. The meat is very light, with a bit of a softer mouth-feel than chicken. In comparing the gator and the chickens stuffed inside – we preferred the more tender reptilian flesh to the traditional bird.

The whole alligator will run you a few hundred dollars, depending on size, and can be spit amongst group of a least 8 people. Anyone who defeats the gator gets to keep the head – you know, as a souvenir or for terrifying roommates.

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