Alligator meat, also called gator meat, is a versatile lean meat than can feature in a number of cuisines. However, it may be confusing which kind of meat it is because it tends to taste like chicken. So, is alligator red meat or not?
Yes, it is. Alligator meat is considered red meat; however, the tail cut of the alligator is considered white meat. While the rib, wings, and nuggets are considered red meat.
If you want to know more about alligator meat, its taste, its benefit, how to prepare it, buying, handling, and storing tips, then read on.
What is alligator meat?
Alligator meat is lean meat gotten from an alligator. It is a versatile meat that can be used in place of chicken, pork, veal, and fish. This is because its taste adapts to different seasonings perfectly.
The name alligator originated from Spanish explorers, who called it “el lagarto”, which means “the lizard”. Later on, the name was modernized into allagarto, and later alligator, which we now use.
Gator meat is used in many cuisines, such as; alligator sausage & fishcraw, fried gator tail with Creole Remoulade Sauce, and even gator tacos. Also, it can be stir-fried, grilled and smoked.
In the 1800s, alligator meat was a major traditional cuisine, featuring in ceremonial occasions. It was mostly used to make gumbo; while the eggs were also quite popular, many farmers sold them as a source of income then.
In the United States, gator meat is a staple in certain areas. It is even legal to hunt for alligators in places like Texas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Arkansas.
What does alligator meat taste like?
The taste of alligator meat is best described as a cross between chicken and fish. This is incorporated with a mild and firm feel likened to that of pork.
Is alligator red or white meat?
Surprisingly, alligator meat consists of both red and white meat. Although the white alligator meat is more sort after, this is the white tail of the gator, which can also be used for steak.
However, other cuts of the alligator are also sort after, such as the rib, the loin, and the legs.
Nutritional information on alligator meat
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the following is the nutritional information on a 100-gram serving of gator meat.
- Calories: 232
- Fat: 3g
- Protein: 46g
- Cholesterol: 55g
It also contains potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and monosaturated fatty acids.
SEE: Is Salmon Red Meat?
Is alligator meat healthy?
Yes, it is. There are a number of health benefits you can get from eating alligator meat. They include;
1. High quantity of protein
Gator meat offers a fair amount of protein that rivals that of other meats.
The protein found in gator meat, whether tail or other cuts, is almost twice the amount found in beef from similar serving sizes.
2. Reduced risk of obesity
Alligator meat has a very low amount of carbohydrates, saturated fat content, moderate iron content, and calories. All these are essential for weight control.
3. Reduce the risk of heart disease
The low cholesterol level and high omega-3 fatty acids present in gator meat are crucial for your heart health. Unlike most other red meat, which contains high levels of cholesterol that may induce stroke.
The saturated fat in a 100-gram serving of gator meat is about 3 times lesser than that of beef. Saturated fat is known to increase cholesterol levels in your body if taken in excess.
4. Improves blood health
Alligator meat is loaded with a fair amount of potassium, which is crucial for regulating blood pressure.
Potassium is a type of electrolyte that enables proper nerve functioning, also helping your heartbeat stay regular.
Vitamin B12 is also another nutrient present in gator meat that helps your blood cells. It also helps prevent megaloblastic anemias, which is an anemia that makes one tired and weak.
What are the best cuts of an alligator?
If you are considering cooking gator meat, you probably want to know the best cut you can get. Below are some of the best cuts you should go for and some of the best ways to cook them.
1. Alligator tail
The tail is divided into various parts; the tenderloin and the lobe are some of the best. This is because of their tenderness and taste, and the best ways to cook these cuts are grilled or pan-fried.
Some might suggest marinating; however, it is up to preference since it is already quite tender.
You can find this alligator tail meat on some restaurant menus, served as an appetizer, fried, or served with a rich sauce.
2. Alligator legs
The gator legs (often termed alligator wings) are considered red meat, along with the body of the gator. They are usually gamey in taste but are still very delicious, especially when fried like wings.
Gator legs can also be enjoyed with spicy sauce or grounded and mixed with pork for sausages.
3. Alligator ribs
Alligator ribs are a delicacy to have, and they are best braised in the oven until the meat falls off the rib. They are also delicious when grilled or even smoked.
How to cook gator meat?
Cooking gator meat is not a hard task, as you can handle it the way you do chicken or beef. Below is a quick step-by-step guide to cooking gator meat.
Step 1: Tenderize the meat
Using a standard meat mallet, sprinkle your favorite meat tenderizer on the meat. This helps for an extra delicious result.
Step 2: Preheat the oven
Fire up the oven to an internal temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: Cook for 30 minutes
After adding a little garlic butter and a smidge of lemon, place the meat in the oven and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
The garlic and lemon add more flavor to the meat that I think you will give you that kick you’ll love.
Step 4: Serve and enjoy
Take the meat out of the oven, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes, so the juices spread around the meat. Afterward, serve and enjoy.
Are there any downsides to eating alligator meat?
There are few downside to eating alligator meat, mostly if it is not cooked properly. They include;
- Abdominal cramps
- Mild diarrhea
Tips on how to buy, handle and store alligator meat
- Go for meat with no color blemish or discoloration
- The meat should be firm to the touch
- The meat should not have an off-putting smell.
- Keep raw meat away from other surfaces to avoid cross-contamination
- Wash knives used in cutting the raw meat
- Always marinade in the fridge.
- Do not keep the meat to sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours
- Wrap the meat tightly before storing it in the freezer to avoid spillage.
Is it okay to eat alligator on lent?
Yes, it is. According to the lent guideline on meat, an alligator is considered fish under the catholic law or standard.
How do you know if gator meat is bad?
You know it is bad when you get an offputting smell or the surface is slimy.
Can you eat gator meat raw?
Although it is common in some regions, it is not advisable. This is because eating raw meat has been linked with a number of health conditions.
How long can raw alligator meat last in the freezer?
Raw alligator meat can last up to 6 months in the freezer and days in the refrigerator. When cooked, it can last up to 3 months in the freezer and 2 days in the refrigerator.
Should you be worried about the mercury found in gator meat?
Only if you are pregnant; wild-caught alligator meat is known to contain some amount of mercury. These species should be avoided by pregnant women and children; however, farm-raised gators are safe and have no risk.
Conclusion: Is alligator red meat?
Alligator is both red and white meat. The legs and body of an alligator are considered red meat, while the tail region is considered white meat.
The taste of alligator meat is similar to that of a chicken and can be handled in a like manner. However, I recommend you opt for a farm-raised gator rather than a wild-raised one, especially for pregnant women and children.
I hope you enjoyed this article, if you did, check out more interesting food articles here.
Thanks for reading.