This week in the F&W Test Kitchen, chef Kenny Gilbert from Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen in Fernandina Beach, Florida gave us a visit. Aside from being a former Top Chef contestant and an all-around badass chef, Kenny is also a bit of a gator connoisseur. After chowing down on delicious smoked gator ribs (seriously) with creamy rice grits and deep-fried shishitos, he dropped some gator knowledge on us.
1. What does alligator taste like?
The age-old saying “it tastes like chicken” actually applies here…kind of. When cooked, alligator has a similar texture to dark meat chicken, but with a faint fishiness to it. As Kenny puts it, “Think of it as if a chicken and a grouper fish had a baby.” Not exactly a picture I want in my head, but the flavor imagery is spot on and surprisingly delicious.
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2. How do you cook it?
The most commonly eaten part of the gator (well, in Florida, that is) is the ribs. “I treat them just like pork spare ribs and put them in my smoker,” says Gilbert. “The gentle smoke pairs perfectly with the unique flavor of the gator. I feel it's very Florida to have a Gator Picking Party just as much as a Pig Picking Party!"