Back in September of last year, we visited the new Market District in Solon and went crazy: we were excited to have a Market District closer to home and were equally happy to find so many unique products. It made for quite the shopping trip (and weeks of delicious meals to follow). You already know about the dish we made with the frog legs we found at MD, but we also picked up some alligator and masa that day and decided to make some ‘gator tacos, complete with homemade guacamole and mango salsa. It was really good and it’s about time we share it with you.
Gator is a medium I’ve never worked with before, which – as you all probably know by now – makes me want to use it even more when I see it. Just like with frog legs, a lot of people say that alligator “tastes just like chicken!” but I feel like that’s only one part of the puzzle. Yeah, gator has some characteristics of chicken – like the color and occasionally the texture – but I thinks it also has many of the characteristics of a firm white fish.
Gator goes really well with a Cajun taste profile, so for this recipe, I wanted to use things like peppers, caramelized onions, and similar spices to kind of work with that style of cooking in a way that would bring out the natural flavor of the meat. I thought it would work well in a taco and, since I was looking for an excuse to try that big bag of masa we bought, gator tacos only made sense.
This was also my first experience with homemade tortillas and while the final result was tasty, they weren’t exactly what I wanted (I feel like I rolled them out too thin, which made for a crisper tortilla as opposed to a soft tortilla). I’m looking forward to working with them again to make a better version in future recipes.
To prepare the guacamole:
½ Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp granulated garlic
2 dashes of Texas Pete hot sauce
Cut your avocadoes in half, pull out the pits, and scoop the avocadoes out of their husks with a spoon. Combine in a bowl with all of the other ingredients and mash together with either a pair of forks or a potato masher. If you’d like a really smooth and creamy guacamole, you can use a blender or food processor. Place in the fridge for roughly half an hour to allow the guacamole to set up.
To prepare the mango salsa:
2 mangoes, medium-to-small diced
3 small sweet peppers, medium-to-small diced
1 large heirloom tomato, medium-to-small diced
2 tsp cilantro, chopped
¼ tsp salt
3 dashes of pepper
2 Tbsp honey
3 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cumin
¼ cup olive oil
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
After preparing your fruit and vegetables, combine all of your ingredients in a bowl and then, like the guacamole, chill in the fridge for about half an hour to allow the flavors to marry.
To prepare the tortillas:
2 cups instant corn masa mix
1 1/8 cup water
3 Tbsp red pepper, minced and sautéed
2 Tbsp onion, minced and caramelized
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
½ tsp salt
Combine all of your ingredients in a bowl and mix until it forms a solid dough ball. It should be just lightly tacky to the touch. Next, you’ll want to break down your dough into roughly 1.5 oz balls for rolling.
While rolling, be sure to cover the dough balls with a moist paper towel so that they don’t dry out. To roll, place a dough ball between two sheets of wax paper and roll them out with a rolling pin until you achieve your desired thickness (I’d recommend ½ to ¾ inch). Alternately, if you have a tortilla press (which is awesome) you can do that too.
Lightly brush your tortillas with oil and then throw them on a flat top griddle until they’re light brown on both sides.
To prepare your alligator:
1 pound alligator, diced
Breading from this recipe
3 cups of safflower oil
Dredge your gator in the breading (same mixture from the pan-sautéed frog legs). To deep fry the gator bits, you can either use a small deep fryer or fill a small sauce pan halfway full with oil (3 cups should be enough, but add more if needed) and bring up to 350 degrees. Drop in the gator bits and deep fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and set on a plate of paper towels to soak up that excess oil before plating.
To plate, fill your tortillas with the mango salsa, guacamole, alligator and – if so desired – additional toppings like shredded romaine lettuce, Manchego cheese, and/or Greek yogurt. Enjoy!