Meat Quality for 10ft+ Gators?

Daktari

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Hello I had a question for the gator hunters on the forum, what is the meat quality for say a 11ft gator? I have a gator hunt coming up and was wondering about the meat
 
Any alligator larger than five feet will be somewhat tough, and will thus benefit from marinades and tenderizing with a mallet (or by using our traditional Bengali method by employing papaya). The tenderloin (located in the tail region) makes for exquisite eating.

The white meat will be superior in taste to the red (although this is based on individual preference, of course).
 
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Thank you Habib! If tenderized is the meat good for the larger specimens?
 
Thank you Habib! If tenderized is the meat good for the larger specimens?
My pleasure, Daktari.
Oh, yes. Excellent eating. My mother has a magnificent recipe for Weiner Schnitzels by substituting the veal cutlet for a tenderized fillet of alligator.
 
On a big gator the inner tender loin from the tail and jaw/jowl meat is the best. The tail fillets are also good, just not as good as the other. It’s really important to get ALL the fat off of the meat before eating or even freezing it. The fat is not tasty at all. It’s really good meat. We enjoy it deep fried, grilled, also it’s great in a gumbo. Hunter Habib is correct in that the red meat can be an acquired taste. I trim all of it off of ours.

Also on the hide the under jaw and jowl skin makes the prettiest leather if your going to get the hide tanned into leather.

Where are you gator hunting at? They are a cool critter to hunt for sure.
 
I’ve fished there many times in the early 2000s. One year when the lake was low, at the mouth of some of the canals there were so many gators that it looked like a Tarzan movie. You should have a blast. Good look and make sure to share some pictures and a report.
 
I had a 400 pound 11 footer turned in to almost 100 pounds of meat and sausage. The meat will be fine. The thing the processor needs to do is turn it in to thumb sized or smaller bites. Bigger steaks or portions will taste fine but be almost impossible to chew. Gator meat is very sinewy and needs to be cut into smaller peieces. I've had the 11 footer down to 8 foot and all the meat was great.
 
My pleasure, Daktari.
Oh, yes. Excellent eating. My mother has a magnificent recipe for Weiner Schnitzels by substituting the veal cutlet for a tenderized fillet of alligator.
Is there any way to get this recipe?
 
Tail and jowls will be ok if u trim any and all fat and connective off and cut up correctly. If an aggressive or breeding specimen then may need to run through a cuber, the legs ribs etc, go online and check out a sauce piquant recipe or message me for one. I worked for a nuisance trapper/ taxidermist in my Florida hometown for many years. Literally have hundreds of them under my belt
 
Thank you all for the information, i've heard white meat is better than the red meat. What is typically done with the red meat?
 
You can make gator quite tender by braising. I love it braised in masamam curry (the canned stuff works just fine) until nearly tender, add some carrots and snow peas, and serve over rice. Delicious!
 
The most important thing I found is to make sure you remove all fat. The fat is white and easy to remove but it’s very fishy tasting and very unpleasant to eat. This was on a 12 foot alligator. It was best fried. I didn’t have any issues with the meat being tough or chewy, sort of like a chicken with no fat. The jowls are the best part according to the “experts” I know…

I had more meat than I could eat and gave a great deal away. People love it. One guy I know has it all ground up and turned into taco meat.
 
Thank you all for the information, i've heard white meat is better than the red meat. What is typically done with the red meat?
I think by “red meat” they’re referring to the leg meat. The tail is white meat. The legs are red and sinewy, almost like a giant wild turkey leg if you’ve ever eaten one of those. I tried to cube them and grind them but it just didn’t work. I ended up giving up on that - the good news is that the leg meat is a small portion of the total meat on a big alligator. One thing I wished I would have done is saved a leg and sent it to a lab to get aged.
 
These two big boys (10 '9" & 10' 6") were shot in Holey Land WMA, on the border with West Palm Beach. These gators were hunted in the canals, not a lake. A lake gator is going to be larger with a longer tail due to bigger body of water and they swim a lot more, vs. the canal gators. The key for the meat to stay fresh is to ice the gator, and to process it as soon as possible. We had tarps and we wrapped the gators with bags of ice. Make sure you get the back straps, and some tail and make sure it's tenderized. These gators were delicious, and not chewy at all. I used Uncle Bucks Batter from Bass Pro, and deep fried them. Finger licking good. :)

If you have any questions, ask away. Good luck with the hunt. BTW, the scariest part of the hunt is when you reach in the murky water to grab the gator to bring him over the gunnel to tape the mouth. We used a 44 Mag bang stick, with 240 grs semi jacketed bullets. Perfect gator medicine. :)

Something to consider. The best leather is from smaller gators. All gators over 10 ft are going to have battle scars, and not be good for leather good. I sold one of my skins, and kept one. It's hanging on my wall. The place I took my skins to get process did a piss poor job. The story of my life.



1707230957904.png
 
This old warrior was 10'-9" and I caught him in Lake Okechobee back in 2012. Processor figured him to be close to 45 years old. Hooked him with a treble first, then a harpoon and float to mark his location while underwater. He stayed down for 40 minutes with me trying to reel him up. After 2.5 hours of fighting him he wore down enough to get to the boat. Used a 44 magnum bang stick to finish him off, and drag into the boat. ALOT of fun, and will probably do another hunt before I leave Florida in a couple years.

We tenderized all the meat, and corned some of it. It wasn't gamey or chewy at all. Leather came out OK, but has previously stated, these old gators have a bunch of scars.

IMG_20140824_101933421_HDR.jpg
 
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Not sure if this is still possible or allowed anymore. I sold some of the meat back to the processor, and my bill was not that high. It was pricy to skin and prep the meat. Not sure how it is now.
 
I haven’t seen any mention of the ribs, soaked in buttermilk, rinsed in cold water and then marinated and grilled like a slab of pork ribs they can be pretty good. They can be par-boiled before the marinating if you feel they may be tough. I’ve had them in a couple of restaurants in Florida and Louisiana and cooked at home and they are good. But my favorite is the tail meat cut in 3/4” cubes soaked in buttermilk battered and fried. I find gator meat pretty rich, unfortunately my aging digestive system can only handle small amounts of it anymore.
 

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