When the statewide alligator hunting season kicked off Aug. 15 my first thought was Baked Gator Fritters paired with spicy cocktail or remoulade sauces. Today’s recipe concept originated in the cookbook “The Florida Cookbook: A Lighter Look at Southern Cooking.” I edited the Tribune Publishing work many years ago. Over the years I have adapted the recipe to seasons and seasoning whims. Alligator is usually purchased frozen but fresh is absolutely the best. Sometimes I add minced carrots instead of bell pepper to the mix. Another tip: Add the flour and breadcrumbs slowly. Depending on the freshness of the meat and juiciness of the celery and bell peppers, you may not need the full amounts.
Baked Gator Fritters
Yield: about 50 fritters.
1 pound gator meat
1/2 cup each: finely chopped celery and green onion
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Hot sauce to taste
Coarse salt to taste
1/4 cup each: flour and olive oil
Cocktail or remoulade sauce for serving
1. In the work bowl of a food processor, process gator until it’s the consistency of sticky dough.
2. Mix gator with balance of ingredients. Chill mixture 30 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly spray with olive oil-flavored cooking spray.
4. Form mixture into small balls. Place on baking sheets and bake 15-20 minutes. Serve with sauce.