Since the past few posts here on Flavors of Brazil have concerned themselves with coconuts and alligators, when I spotted this recipe for alligator with coconut milk I knew it was perfect for inclusion in the blog. It is an adaptation of a recipe I found on a Brazilian food blog called Marido Sanduiche.
Alligator (or jacaré as it's called in Portuguese) is increasingly available fresh or frozen in supermarkets and butcher shops in Brazil. Most of it comes from the Pantanal, the world's largest wetlands sytem, and the majority of it is farmed. In North America it can be purchased fresh the southeastern USA and frozen in most metropolitan areas of the USA and Canada. Whether it's available at all in Europe or elsewhere, I'm afraid I can't say.
Alligator is an extremely healthy meat, and very adaptable to a large variety of cooking methods. It can successfully be substituted for other meats, particularly chicken or pork. Give it a try, you might just be surprised how much you like it.
RECIPE - Alligator in Coconut Milk (Jacaré com Leite de Coco)
1 1/2 lb (750 gr) alligator meat, boneless
2 large limes
1 lb (450 gr) boiling potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered depending on size
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup loosely-packed, chopped cilantro
1 cup (200 ml) coconut milk, home-made or canned
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the alligator meat into 2 inch chunks or cubes. Place the meat in a large bowl with ice water to cover. Add the juice of one lime,and let sit for 30 minutes.
Drain the alligator meat. In another large bowl, combine the meat, the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, the juice of the other lemon and the olive oil. Toss thoroughly to coat all the meat with marinade. Refrigerate the meat in the marinade for two hours.
Heat a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the meat and the marinade and the chopped onion and stir-fry until the meat is lightly browned. Add the chopped tomato, half the coconut milk, then mix completely. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover the pan. Cook for 15 minutes, then add the potatoes and the other half of the coconut milk. Continue to cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and the alligator is tender. If the sauce is too thin, reduce quickly over high heat. Remove from heat.
Place in large serving bowl, sprinkling the chopped cilantro on top of the alligator and potato. Serve immediately, accompanied by white rice.