What Do Snake and Other Exotic Meats Taste Like?
Life is good at the top of the food chain. We did some research, and learned what five exotic animals actually taste like when cooked properly.
“Rattlesnake tastes, when breaded and fried, like a sinewy, half-starved tilapia,” according to The New York Times. Called “desert whitefish” in the Southwest, it’s reportedly “bland and difficult to eat,” tough, sinewy, and full of little bones. There’s very little in the way of actual flavor.
Frog legs are fairly commonly eaten, and we can tell you from experience that it tastes like a cross between chicken and fish — namely, the texture of dark-meat chicken, the flavor of a mild fish. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get over the slight cognitive dissonance, it’s not an unpleasant dining experience.
According to some posters on Yahoo! Answers, alligator tastes quite a bit like frog, but maybe with a hint of rabbit and crab. It’s difficult to cook because it’s so low in fat, and the end result is usually tough and chewy.
Bears don’t turn up on menus too often (if at all), but plenty of hunters have eaten it, usually reporting that the meat is very tough, greasy, and gamey. One hunter, who wrote an article for Slate about cooking bear, took a different approach: he dry-aged it to tenderize it, and when pan-seared, it wasn’t tough or strongly flavored, but had a flavor similar to venison. Bear burgers were also a big hit.
Zebra has virtually no fat, and one breed — the Burchell zebra — is the only one that can be farmed for meat. According to the Independent, it’s a little bit sweeter than beef, with a slightly gamey flavor. Because it’s so low in fat, it’s also very tough and chewy, and is best cut into thin strips and quickly pan-fried, or slowly braised.
Zebra meat: Exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Fitness trends are cyclical. Everyone panics into getting fit soon after the Christmas bulge, before embarking on a second fitness binge in time for the formidable beach wear season. Veganism has done the rounds. Camel milk has had a recent revival. Kale is the new holy grail of everything - even breeding with the brussel sprout to produce new superfood the ‘kalette’ - and reality TV stars are launching must-have dietary supplements more often than they Instagram.
But now the call is for meat. Not just any meat. Bog standard lamb chops and pork sausages simply do not suffice anymore. A new trend might see us tucking in to a succulent slice of zebra steak, or maybe even springbok, bison or crunchy chermoula crickets.
UK fitness food site MuscleFood.com - a company who provide food to athletes including boxers Carl Froch and David Haye - have just added zebra steaks to their line-up of exotic delicacies due to its extremely low fat content.
With virtually no fat (0.5g per 100g), the meat has just one tenth of the fat found in a same size beef steak, and contains around one third less calories, with only 148 per steak compared to 230 in a rump steak.
With additional zinc to kick start your immune system and vitamin B12 to boost energy levels, it comes as no surprise that athletes including Great Britain Olympic sprinter Iwan Thomas have confessed their love for the Serengeti steak’s high quality protein.
The “sweeter than beef” meat with a “subtle game flavour” is cut from the hindquarter of the Burchell zebra breed in South Africa – the only breed that can be legally farmed for meat.
Darren Beale, founder of MuscleFood.com said: “These zebra steaks offer a real taste of the Serengeti and if they’re good enough for lions to feast on then why not us humans too?”
The success of the company’s horsemeat range of burgers, meatballs and mince has spurned the popularity of its stylish South African cousin.
Beale said: “Our customers are adventurous when it comes to trying new things so we decided to introduce the ultimate low fat high protein meat – zebra.”
The company’s move towards the exotic is not as new as you may think. Myfitnesspal and other calorie counting apps already list zebra meat on their food stores, and Raging Bull Meats on Finchley Road recently reopened as a South African butchers selling a safari’s worth of meat - both fresh and dried.
Last year supermarket chain Lidl divided shoppers when it launched kangaroo steaks as part of its luxury range Archipelago restaurant in London boasts an eclectic selection of unusual delicacies. From crispy zebra "jerky" and boerewors, to sweet-chilli smoked python carpaccio, to crocodile wrapped in vine leaves, the menu offers up a dream for any discerning carnivores.
But our adventurous palettes have left health officials divided, especially after the horsemeat scandal which found that unbeknownst to us those tasty Findus lasagnes and Tesco burgers were packed illegally with horsemeat that was sourced from dodgy farms as far afield as Rotterdam.
It is not illegal to sell meat that isn’t sourced in the UK providing that it meets certain standards set out by the Food Standard Agency (FSA) – so don’t worry, London Zoo won’t become a breeding pad and subsequent slaughter house for exotic species. All meat must adhere to the required standards for labelling, die at an approved slaughterhouse and pass health inspections.
Providing all the legal requirements are met – what are the chances of this new superfood setting up home - just like the ‘exotic’ banana did over 100 years ago - and becoming a popular British staple?
For fitness – maybe. For steak and chips – it’s doubtful. Regardless of the meat’s health benefits, because of the low fat content its robust texture means that you have to chew yourself to fitness in order to digest it. It is best cut into thin strips and fried over a high heat for a very short period of time, or perhaps casseroled for a tasty zebra hotpot. But if you want to indulge in a steak, then you’re best off buying a beef steak.
What 11 Popular Zoo Animals Taste Like (According to People Who Tried Them)
Have you ever visited the local zoo and found yourself wondering how a juicy hunk of boiled penguin breast might taste? Just about every creature under the sun has been sautéed, deep-fried, and/or sprinkled over a pizza at some point in human history.
(DISCLAIMER: A few of the species on this list are either threatened or endangered. In addition to being ethically dubious, their consumption is illegal in many countries. This article is designed to help satisfy your curiosity and not stoke your appetite.)
Elephant feet: part of a complete breakfast! While exploring Mozambique in 1864, Scottish missionary David Livingstone was served this pedal delicacy, cooked in the “native fashion,” one morning. Finding it delicious, the traveler wrote, “It is a whitish mass, slightly gelatinous, and sweet like marrow.” Best of all, the meal came with a healthy side of beer.
“Properly prepared, and cooked rare,” pens celebrity chef Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall, “giraffe’s meat steak can be better than steak or venison. The meat has a natural sweetness that may not be to everybody’s taste, but is certainly to mine when grilled over an open fire.”
A particularly unflattering description of penguin meat composed by a Belgian seaman in 1898 suggests that it won’t be replacing chicken anytime soon: “If it’s possible to imagine a piece of beef, odiferous cod fish, and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce, the illustration would be complete.”
4. Galapagos Tortoise
These hardy reptiles were a dietary staple to traveling sailors throughout the 19th century. Though many compared the delicacy to fine veal, a young Charles Darwin was decidedly less enthusiastic. “[The] breastplate roasted … is very good,” his journal grants, “and the young tortoises make excellent soup, but otherwise the meat to my taste is indifferent.”
Apparently, the king of the beasts makes for one tasty taco. A Tampa Bay restaurant began selling these $35 entrees last year before removing them from the menu a few months later. "[It's] surprisingly tasty," said one customer of this exotic grub. "The taste is kind like venison, and the texture is kind of like gator."
Looking to capitalize on Florida’s decades-long Burmese python invasion, Evan’s Neighborhood Pizza of Fort Myers now offers “Everglades Pizza” topped with slivers of these 20-foot snakes. “It tastes like chicken but chewier,” said one customer.
It’s the perfect treat for hump day! Eating camel is a fairly common practice in much of the world, especially the Middle East. Chef Anissa Halou claims it reminds him of “a cross between beef and lamb.” Camel steaks are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to conventional red meat in much of Europe and even parts of the U.S.
Gorillas are widely hunted down and devoured in parts of Africa, and the simians’ flesh is routinely sold at nearby markets as “bush meat." Flavor-wise, many have cited their cuts as rich, smoky, and veal-like. Speaking of primates, if you’d like to find out what humans taste like without wandering into Hannibal Lecter territory, Vsauce recently posted an excellent video on the subject.
In the words of author and hunter Peter Hathaway Capstick, “It is my personal opinion that hippo meat is one of the finest of game foods … The taste is mild, less than lamb and more than beef, slightly more marbled than usual venison. It tastes exactly like, well, hippo.”
If you’re searching for an exotic alternative to traditional Thanksgiving fare, look no further. The eponymous host of the popular YouTube series “Dave’s Exotic Foods” stated in a special holiday episode that brined peacock sports a light and very turkey-like flavor. However, if certain medieval critics are to be believed, stocking up on some gas-ex first might be a necessary precaution.
“It was really, really tough and there really wasn’t much meat,” says American composer Aaron Paul Low, who helped catch and eat an unfortunate sloth on a trip to Peru in 2012. Tired of subsisting on nothing but indigenous fruits, Low claims his party “begrudgingly ate such natural wonders as armadillo, turtle, crocodile, toucan,” and many others. Sloth meat, he says, isn't for the weak-stomached. “[It was] one of the few absolutely disgusting animals we ate.” These adorable tree-climbers are illegal to hunt, but a few luckless specimens still get munched on every year.
Archaeological evidence suggests that prehistoric humans once hunted giant pandas with spears some 10,000 years ago. Since then, the practice has fallen out of favor and no record detailing their flavor is known to exist. However, in 1928, Teddy Roosevelt’s sons Kermit and Theodore IV hunted and ate one while visiting China, but neglected to document its taste.
Snakehead taste test — can a fish this ugly really taste that good? (Photos)
Are snakeheads as tasty as people claim? I went snakehead fishing on the Potomac River last Thursday with the goal to catch a few of the invasive species. I wanted to give the fish a try. Can a fish that ugly really taste that good?
During my fishing trip, we caught six large snakeheads — an aggressive, air-breathing species of fish not native to the Potomac or Chesapeake — and I returned home with some nice fish fillets. Note, “fish fillets” sound much better than “snakehead fillets.” More on renaming the fish later.
I decided to host a set of snakehead taste tests with people who have never eaten the fish. Unfortunately, a few of my prospective taste testers declined the invitation when they heard that snakehead was on the menu. Just the name and reputation of the fish was enough to turn the taste testers away. But I did find a group of people who were happy to sample my catch.
I prepared the snakehead several different ways: grilled with an Italian dressing marinade, baked with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, and beer-battered then deep-fried. I also cooked three other fish for comparison: tilapia, flounder, and cod. Read below for the tasty results.
What does snake taste like
The first question I get asked when having a conversation about eating snake is, what does snake taste like. Most people cringe when you ask them have they ever eaten snake. I jokingly tell them it taste like chicken.
In all reality, it taste like what they eat. Snakes that eat bugs and insects taste like grasshoppers and crickets and water snakes taste more like fish.
What’s the best snakes to eat
For me, the snake with the best flavor would hands down be the rattlesnake. It has a very gamey flavor like that of wild alligator meat and is easily prepared and cooked. A freshly cooked rattlesnake in the wild over a campfire is about as wild as it gets.
Cook the rattlesnake cowboy style over an opened flame with some beans, cast iron cornbread and foraged greens and roots. I also have eaten and cooked Diamond-back snakes. They have a less gamey flavor and are absolutely tasty when cooked and grilled in the wild over an open flame.
I’m not so big on eating common snakes like garters and rat snakes. I’m also not too keen on the flavor of Copperheads. They are better baked in the oven after marinated for a full day. Water moccasins are by far the worst snakes to eat.
They taste very bad and it’s an awful flavor you’ll never forget. There’s not enough seasonings and herbs in the world to make water moccasins edible. In a survival situation, you have to do what you have to do and I wouldn’t think twice of eating it for the protein.
What snakes can you eat
All snakes can be eaten for the most part, but you have to be careful when preparing venomous snakes. Dangerous and poisonous snakes like the rattlesnake have to be handled by someone who has experience in hunting and gathering snakes.
The venom is in the fangs and head. Caution has to be taken when removing and disposing the head. When preparing rattlesnake or any venomous snake, you should always bury the head.
How to cook snake in the wild
The very first step is catching the snake. Unless you’re a seasoned hunter and gatherer of dangerous reptiles, you should never try to capture a snake by hand. Again, the best snake to eat is rattlesnake. My favorite way to cook it is to grill on a stick or skewer like kabobs and over a hot open-flame.
How to prepare a snake for cooking
1. Gut the snake by removing the head and entrails
2. Remove the skin
3. Cut the snake into chunks or medallions
Best ways to cook snake in the wild
Grilled – Put the snake pieces on a green stick or skewer and grill over a hot campfire.
Deep Fried – You can dredge the snake pieces in seasoned flour or cornmeal and deep fry until golden brown. Only takes a few minutes.
Sauteed or pan fried – They can be cooked in a hot skillet with butter, onion and garlic. When sauteing, it’s better to marinade the snake so it won’t be so chewy and tough.
Boiled or braised – Rattlesnake is also delicious when simmered or braised in a broth with potatoes, onions and carrots.
Eating and cooking a snake in the wild isn’t for everyone. If you like fried alligator, I’m sure you’ll like deep-fried rattlesnake.
Buying Ostrich Meat Online – Procedure and Shipping
Now it’s easier than ever to try succulent ostrich meat at home. You can order ostrich online from Northfork Bison. We deliver it to your door. The meat is kept cool with ice packs. We can call you before we ship to make sure you are home to receive your order, or you can have your meat delivered to your daytime address (at work). We will make sure that your meat is never left unrefrigerated.
Your ostrich steaks (or ground meat) will be hand cut or ground upon receipt of your order. It will then be carefully packed in an insulated box with ice packs designed to maintain your items in good condition for up to 48 hours. We use a sturdy shipping cooler and plenty of ice to assure your meat arrives in good order.
We recommend shipping to wherever you are during the day. Most places of business are on a regular delivery schedule with our shippers. The shipment will have enough ice to keep frozen until you get home that evening. To conserve the ice, it is best not to open the shipment until you are ready to place the order in the freezer.
Turtle Jelly: From Shell to Gel
Like Shark Fin Soup, turtle jelly, or gwei ling go in Cantonese, is another naughty delicacy that doesn't impress any environmentalist. Powdered turtle shells and bellies are boiled for up to twelve hours, mixed with herbs and lotions and served up as a type of jelly-like soup.
Turtle jelly enthusiasts in Hong Kong swear by turtle jelly’s medicinal properties – it’s supposed to be a cooling food, helping with coughs, indigestion, and eczema while beautifying the skin. Authentic turtle jelly – made from the ground-up shells of the Cuora trifasciata turtle farmed on the mainland – can be prohibitively expensive, costing about HKD 300 (or about US$40) per cup. Most of the commercially available turtle jelly in Hong Kong actually contains no turtle shell.
Edible rating: 1 out of 10. The medicinal properties are the whole point, certainly not the taste.
Why you might want to try camel, the other-other red meat
Depending on whom you ask, camel burgers are good when prepared with spices and onion — or cooked without any extras, not even salt and pepper. Get the recipe for these burgers, below. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)
Without the might of an ad campaign or trade association behind it, camel meat is unlikely to become a widespread option for Americans who identify as health-conscious red-meat lovers. Yet there are signs it is making headway.
One such sign is the filet-size starburst neon-cardboard cutout, outlined in black Sharpie, that’s affixed to the freezer case at Wagshal’s Market: “We have camel!!”
Butcher Pam Ginsberg carries ground camel and camel rib-eye steaks in the Northwest Washington shop known for catering to a well-heeled clientele. “I get them in and mention it, and they’re gone,” she says. “People are buying it because it’s so lean.”
The camel meat Wagshal’s sells is from Australia, farm-raised. Ginsberg finds it bland-tasting when unseasoned and compares it overall to ostrich and, somewhat less so, bison. Australia is a major exporter of camel meat, due to circumstances linked to the animal’s introduction to that continent in the mid-19th century, for purposes of carrying heavy loads across inhospitable expanses of territory.
Efforts to cull the 1-million-strong feral camel population there resulted in a national campaign urging Australians to eat more camel and kangaroo. With no natural predators, camels have become a powerful and destructive force for farms and water supplies, damaging infrastructure.
Australian road signs warn drivers to look out for camels, kangaroos and wombats. About a million feral camels roam the interior of the country, damaging farmland and infrastructure and creating hazards on the roads. (Auscape/UIG via Getty Images)
Health claims tout camel meat’s relatively high percentage of protein, kangaroo-low levels (1 to 2 percent) of fat and the near-absence of saturated fat. It is said to be high in amino acids, iron and glycogen, a stored form of carbohydrate that supports nerve-cell growth.
As a novelty item, ground camel meat clocks in at less than $20 per pound — substantially more than the $4-and-change average price of ground beef in the United States but modest in comparison with other “exotics,” such as imported and domestic alligator loin, wild boar and python.
Ginsberg says ground camel is typically made up of what the butcher assesses as “good meat,” from only the leg and trimmings of the animal. Anshu Pathak, owner of Exotic Meat Market, a California distributor that provides game to the likes of Food Network, imports vacuum-packed muscle cuts of camel — and hump fat, when he can get it — and grinds his own.
A burger made with ground camel meat imported from Australia and purchased at Wagshal’s Market in Northwest Washington. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)
Pathak could qualify as official camel meat spokesman should the need for one ever arise. With little prompting, he enthuses about the flavor of the meat, its fat and its sustainability. What he imports, also from Australia, is wild camel that’s harvested at age 2 or 3 “we are recycling,” he says. Pathak reports a 3,000 percent rise in sales over the past year, although he will not quantify those sales further.
“Basically, it’s ethnic food for Africans and for some Indians, like me. I love it,” he says. “The fat is clean-tasting, creamy, amazing. The meat is clean-tasting, too.” He cooks with rendered camel fat when he can and uses it in the camel sausage he produces.
Pathak says the meat must be eaten on its own, preferably raw, to appreciate its unique flavor and texture. (Because it’s inspected rigorously before it leaves Australia and upon arrival in America, he says he feels secure making such a recommendation.)
Camel burgers seemed to be the way to sample the ground meat we bought at Wagshal’s. Because the meat is so lean, cooking it properly is key. We tweaked a blog recipe that calls for a light touch of seasonings, onion and cilantro. The raw meat is a rich, deep red and barely holds together when shaped into patties.
We started the burgers in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top and finished them in the oven, to 150 degrees and a pinkish medium-rare interior. Several dozen volunteer tasters at The Post who ranged from apprehensive to concert-line enthusiastic gave the burgers a thumbs up, deeming the meat chewy, somewhat crumbly, extra-meaty and “no mistaking it for beef.” We found no trace of the tongue-coating mouth feel that an 80-20 (lean meat-to-fat ratio) burger can induce.
Distributor Pathak suggests an alternative cooking method for ground camel: Shape two patties’ worth, eight ounces each, with no seasoning. Place them in a screaming-hot pan to cook for a minute or so, then flip them over and add a scant cup (15 tablespoons) of water to the pan. Cover and cook until the meat absorbs the water and reaches an internal temperature of no more than 145 degrees.
That way, he says, you’ll understand camel’s flavor, texture and taste — a novelty, perhaps, for those health-conscious lovers of red meat.
Ground camel, $19.99 per pound at Wagshal’s Market, 4845 Massachusetts Ave. NW. www.wagshals.com. 202-363-0777. Via ExoticMeatsMarket.com, $15 per pound.
It’s good to closely monitor their internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer, to avoid overcooking.
Adapted from a recipe by Christopher James Clark, author of “Nutritional Grail: Ancestral Wisdom, Breakthrough Science and the Dawning Nutritional Renaissance” (Extropy Publishing, 2014).
2 pounds ground camel meat (see headnote)
1 /2 medium red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari (may substitute low-sodium soy sauce)
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 to 3 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
6 toasted, buttered hamburger buns (on the small side), for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Combine the camel meat, red onion, garlic, tamari, the cumin and coriander (to taste) and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Gently blend with your clean hands until well incorporated, then shape the mixture into 6 patties of equal size that are about 1 inch thick.
Arrange them in the pan so they are not touching cook for about
6 minutes or until nicely browned on the bottom, then turn them over. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes after
5 minutes, begin spot-checking the internal temperature of the burgers with an instant-read thermometer. Pull them out at 140 degrees let them rest (in the pan) for 5 minutes before serving on toasted, buttered buns.
Nutrition | Per serving (without buns): 160 calories, 34 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar
Why I Eat Lion and Other Exotic Meats
courtesy Dave Arnold
In the November issue, we looked at how scientists are using DNA analysis to track down endangered species that are being hunted for food. Here, Dave Arnold talks about why some people prefer exotic meats.
For the most part, Americans are obsessed with tenderness, and favor mild-flavored meat. We eat a fairly small number of animals, almost all of them slaughtered young, when their meat is at its least flavorful. Fortunately, some of us are starting to realize that meat can be much more interesting. As the food revolution continues to gain traction, our ancestral lust for robust, unusual meats is starting to spark and reawaken.
America was once the premier place to eat strange animals. We were world-renowned for the quantity, quality, and variety of our game. We ate wild animals, farmed animals, young animals, old animals. If it moved, we ate it (exception: eagles).
For an eye-opening reference, see Thomas DeVoe’s 1867 book The Market Assistant (free on Google books), which describes pretty much every food available in a large 19th century American market. The author was a butcher at Jefferson Market in New York both before and after the Civil War you can see him on the frontispiece cutting meat while sporting a stovepipe hat and cravat. The wildfowl section of the book alone runs to 35 pages and includes cuckoo birds and woodpeckers. A trip to the market would have been like a trip to a natural history museum.
For the last several generations our focus as a culture has not been on taste. Lamb, for example, is typically slaughtered at less than one year old. Mutton, its full-flavored adult counterpart, was a culinary staple for millennia, but has virtually disappeared from our plates in the last hundred years.
Where To Score Exotic Meats
Acquiring and cooking interesting meats is still possible, but it takes a little know-how. Though hunters have regular access to a wide variety of wild meats, U.S. regulations prohibit selling their kills for eating. Unless you or your best friend is a hunter, you’ll need some wild-meat workarounds.
Game animals may be raised as farm animals, slaughtered under USDA inspection, and then sold. You can get yak meat this way, and it is super delicious — rich and gamey, like a cross between beef and duck. Many farmed “wild” animals, however, don’t taste the same as their truly wild counterparts because their diets and exercise regimens are different. Oddly, wild animals shot in the United Kingdom and processed under UK hygiene rules are legal to import into the US. You can order up some delicious wild grouse, one of the most highly prized of all game birds, under these laws — though at a hefty price. You can also legally acquire wild meat from a fur trapper, who is permitted to trap live animals for their fur, slaughter them at USDA approved facilities, and sell the meat. You can order beaver thanks to these laws the meat has a unique woodsy taste (no joke).
The saddest route to exotic meats is eating the cast-offs of the exotic animal business. Bears and lions are raised by big game dealers for circuses, exotic pet enthusiasts and zoos. When these animals are too old to breed, or their owners discard them, they are slaughtered for their fur and the meat is sold to dealers. Note that it is never legal to slaughter an endangered animal.
An Order of Meat
What To Do With Them
Getting your exotic meat is only half the problem. Because many of these animals are older and their meat is tougher and less marbled than grain-finished beef, cooks often don’t know how to prepare them properly. Game meat is often relegated to highly sauced preparations or stews, or served as tiny chunks of meat fried in a heavy batter. I’ve been served alligator seven times and I still don’t know what it tastes like. Hunters’ cookbooks offer suggestions, but most of them aren’t written by chefs and they tend to recommend brutally overcooking the meat. A notable exception to the typical game book is Chef John Folse’s groundbreaking work After the Hunt, his 854-page paean to the cookery of Louisiana’s game.
There isn’t much connective tissue in your average steak, and that’s why they taste great grilled, broiled, or pan-fried. Game meats, on the other hand, are inherently tougher and don’t become tender when grilled. Additionally, the fat in a steak lubricates our mouth as we chew and prevents steaks and chops from tasting dry this fat isn’t prevalent in game meats. It is hard to quick-cook game meats properly. The normal alternative to quick-cooking — slow cooking — isn’t necessarily the solution either. Traditional braised meats contain lots of connective tissue. As meat is braised, it becomes juicy as its connective tissue is rendered into unctuous gelatin. Steak cuts of game animals don’t have enough connective tissue to get juicy and tender from the rendered gelatin.
In short: there is no good traditional way to cook these meats. A typical compromise: slice the meat very thin and cook it over very high heat you get a flavorful crust and the pieces are so thin that you can’t tell how tough they are. The real solution is low-temperature cooking, which has revolutionized the way many chefs cook, and has the potential to revolutionize game cooking as well. In traditional cooking, high temperatures are used: we use a 400-degree oven to cook a piece of meat to an internal temperature of 135°.
In low-temperature cooking, we use a piece of equipment called an immersion circulator to precisely cook and hold a piece of meat at exactly the temperature we want (for more on sous vide cooking, see here). Using the immersion circulator and a Zip-loc bag with butter, I can hold a yak steak at exactly 133°F for hours and hours, without overcooking the meat. After many hours at these low temperatures, the connective tissue breaks down and the meat becomes tender. Because it hasn’t been overcooked in the first place, the meat isn’t dry and doesn’t require a lot of intramuscular fat to seem juicy.
Until recently, immersion circulators and low-temperature cooking were the exclusive purview of high-end chefs, but as of this year you can pick up a home circulator at Williams Sonoma.
Dave Arnold’s Low-Temperature Game Cooking Notes
In all cases sear the meat first and put into Zip-loc bags with butter. Cook in an immersion circulator for the prescribed times, then sear again for a minute or two per side on high heat.
Yak: cook at 56°C for 24 hours. Rich and gamey, with notes of duck.
Lion: 57°C for 24 hours. Tastes like pork but richer.
Black bear: 57°C for 3 hours. Tastes a little bloody and metallic. Younger bears are reportedly better.
Beaver tail: 60°C for 48 hours. Woodsy, delicious.
Duck, and birds that cook like duck (teal, widgeon): 57-58°C for 45 minutes to an hour for the breast. Braise the legs.
Squab: 56°C for 45 minutes for the breast. Braise the leg.
Raccoon: I recommend cooking raccoon in a traditional braise.
Is it Healthy to Eat Alligator?
Yes, it is healthy to eat alligator.
Alligator meat is carb-free and has barely 3% total fat. Besides, most of the calories you’d find in alligator is from protein.
It also has high iron content. Alligator meat helps to reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity.
Furthermore, its meat contains muscle-building nutrients. Because it is lean meat, it is recommended for gym rats.
Alligator is excellent for people with heart conditions. This is because of its low cholesterol content.
It also has an extraordinary amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Also, lovers of the meat believe that it can cure a cold and manage asthmatic conditions in humans.
Finally, alligator meat is said to have anti-carcinogenic and anti-arthritic properties.