Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fried Alligator Po' Boy - Sandwich VIDEO

While conversing with a swamp gator in my latest video, this cheapskate Dr. Doolittle cuisinier finds out what an aquatic reptile's favorite meal is (hint - the alligator was eyeing my flank a little to close for comfort!) 

That's just one outre scene from my video shoot in Creole country -- you will also get a cooking tutorial from my Cajun nephew, Chef Matt, followed by a Fried Alligator Po' boy tasting session from the family. It's a good-time video filled with Southern hospitality.

If you don't know what a Po'boy sandwich is, just click here to see the New Orleans Po'boy Tour I shot last summer. A po'boy is the official sandwich of Louisiana. Any protein you can come up with has been stuffed into a locally baked roll of French bread. I've tried it with hot links, cold cuts, roast beef, and fried crawfish, catfish, oysters, and alligator. 

And in the South a sandwich is "dressed" -- that means adding slices of tomato, pickle, and lettuce with a smear of mayo. It's a Cajun version of the Subway sandwich.

Chef Matt makes a mean Fried Alligator Po'boy, and I'll take you through his easy step-by-step Southern cornmeal frying method. I love fried chicken done soul food style, which is made with a seasoned coating of flour while Dixie fried seafood is usually covered in cornmeal (or a cornmeal/flour combination.) 

I especially like catfish and fried oysters done this way, unlike L.A. Weekly food journalist Elina Shatkin, who differs in her review of a Fried Oyster Po'boy from The Gumbo Pot (click here). The Gumbo Pot also sells an Alligator Tail Fillet meal for a decent price of $10.75 (menu here.) In my view, cornmeal is a flavorful coating with an extra crunchy texture, when done right.

Chef Matt also does a buttermilk wash, before adding cut alligator cubes to the cornmeal. If you can't find buttermilk sold locally, a cheap substitution is done by adding a tablespoon of vinegar (or lemon juice) to a cup of regular milk and letting it sit for five minutes.

And since this Alligator Whisperer is in Louisiana, I'm sticking with local protein. That means I'm using $9.99 per pound fillets of alligator tail meat ! 

Gator is not for everyone, it can be a little chewy, with the texture of a well-done pork chop. The flavor is somewhere between chicken and fish. But I do have some cheaper substitutions that fry up just as deliciously.

The fried cornmeal coating also works well with budget one-dollar fish fillets of tilapia (which I frequently find at 99c only Stores, and in frozen meat grocery deli cases.) You could even use chunks of chicken fillets for a tasty cheap Fried Chicken Po'boy

If you ever visit Louisiana, I would recommend getting the more typical Fried Catfish Po'boy, which uses the same cornmeal coating and is sold for half the price of an alligator version.

In my South Los Angeles neighborhood, Southern transplants are catered to by local chain groceries selling catfish fillets in the fresh seafood section for around $3 per pound -- get a pound and you could easily fill three po' boys. You can use any locally harvested firm fish -- just try frying it in Chef Matt's seasoned cornmeal coating and making a po'boy sandwich with it.

With Spring around the corner, be sure to bookmark Chef Matt's Fried Alligator Po' boy recipe video for your first patio party of the year.  Even if you can't find alligator, or prefer not to use it, substituting fried catfish fillets will make the party a winner. 

Mardi Gras is in full swing in New Orleans (my belly-filling Crescent City Po' boy Video Tour is a click away, here) -- so join the celebration and cook up a po'boy with The 99 Cent Chef!

And check back to view my final recipe video of February Sandwich Month -- a homemade version of a breakfast corporate-tweaked classic, the Egg McMuffin -- done in this arty chef's animated stop-motion style.

Fried Alligator Po'boy - VIDEO
Play it here. Video runs 6 minutes, 57 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

Ingredients (2-3 six-inch sandwiches)
  • 1/2 pound alligator - or use tilapia fish or boneless chicken for a cheaper (and easier to get) substitution.
  • 1 cup buttermilk - or make your own by mixing regular milk with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, and letting the mixture sit for 5 minutes. It's okay to just use regular milk or even water -- just to dampen meat so cornmeal will stick.
  • 1 cup of cornmeal - white or yellow. You could also go with a mix of half flour, and half cornmeal.
  • Cornmeal is seasoned with  - 1 teaspoon of Cajun spices (I use Tony Chachere's, but any generic blend will do), garlic powder, and black pepper.
  • Large French bread baguette - cut into 6-inch sandwich sizes. Okay to use 6-inch bakery rolls from your local grocery.
  • The Sandwich is dressed in mayo, sliced tomato, pickle, and lettuce.
  • About 2 cups vegetable oil - for frying coated alligator (or any favorite frying oil).
Add oil for frying in a pan or pot, over medium/high heat.

Add buttermilk to a bowl and cornmeal to another bowl (or plate.) Season cornmeal with Cajun spices, garlic powder, and black pepper. Slice meat into bite-sized pieces. Add meat to buttermilk and wash all sides. Next, add wet alligator pieces to seasoned cornmeal and coat well.

You may need to fry in batches, depending on how large the pan or pot is. Carefully add a coated alligator nugget to the hot oil -- it should start frying and bubbling right away (see the video.)  Add more alligator, but don't overcrowd the frying pan. If you use fish fillets they will cook quicker; no more than a couple of minutes for each side. Alligator takes an extra minute or two longer, about 5 -7 minutes. Done when cooked through and the cornmeal coating is brown.

Remove pieces to a paper towel to drain, until all the alligator is fried.

Now it's time to build the sandwich. Cut French bread baguette into 6-inch sandwich sizes. Slice open roll and add mayo, sliced tomato, and lettuce (pickle slices, too.) Fill it up with fried alligator nuggets. Best with a cold beer!


Splendor said...

I've had it on a stick like sausage and found it tough and unappetizing.

99 Cent Chef said...

hi Splendor, yeah I had one those at the New Orleans French Market -- not the best way to eat alligator ;-p

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