Gator Facts

After a long day of sweating over an engine, there’s nothing like a sunset cruise. So one day, we grab a cocktail and start rowing around the canals of the swamp (oh right, the housing development) to enjoy the sunset. I see a bump in the water.

“Hey, it’s a gator.”
“I think it’s a stick.”
“The stick has beady yellow eyes and it’s looking at us.”

We kill the outboard and glide towards the “stick”. A pair of yellow eyes from prehistoric times stares blankly at me seeing only red meat and muscles.
That’s it. No trailing of hands in the water.
My new alligator shoes are floating down the canal. I am just a bite on the food chain for this creature. And he is just a pair of shoes, a purse and a plate of nuggets to me.

American Alligator
Order: Crocodylia
Family: Alligatoridae
Genus/species: Alligator mississippiensis
The average size for an adult female American alligator is 8.2 feet (2.6 m), and the average size for a male is 11.2 feet (3.4 m). Exceptionally large males can reach a weight of nearly half a ton or 1,000 pounds.

The easiest way to distinguish an alligator from a crocodile is by looking at the teeth. The large fourth tooth in the lower jaw of an alligator fits into a socket in the upper jaw and is not visible when the mouth is closed. This does not happen in crocodiles. Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth in their mouth at a time. As teeth wear down they are replaced. An alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

Speaking of nuggets… an alligator recipe with lemon and white wine
· 1 to 1 1/2 pounds alligator meat, cut in bite-size pieces
· salt
· ground cayenne and black pepper, to taste
· 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
· 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
· 1/4 cup flour
· 1/4 cup olive oil
· 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
· Sauce:
· 1/4 cup seasoned liquid from boiled alligator
· 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
· 3/4 cup dry white wine
· juice of 1 large lemon, or about 4 tablespoons

Cut alligator meat into bite-size pieces; sprinkle with salt and red and black pepper. Place alligator in a large saucepan, cover with water and add Old Bay Seasoning. Bring quickly to a boil; boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove gator from liquid (reserve liquid), drain, and let meat cool. Dip meat in yogurt and then in flour.
Heat oil with garlic; remove garlic and lightly brown meat. Transfer meat to paper towels to drain; keep warm until sauce is done.

Arrange meat on plate and serve with the sauce for dipping.
To make sauce: In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup reserved liquid and white wine; stir in cornstarch. Heat and stir until mixture starts to thicken. Add lemon juice and cook until thickened.
Alligator recipe serves 4 to 6.

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