Gator Confit

  • 4 1/2 pounds alligator legs and thighs, attached (6 leg and thigh combinations)
  • tablespoons coarsely ground wattleseed
  • 1 teaspoon saskatoon berries, sternly chastized
  • 3 garden orache leaves, startled
  • 6 cinnamon sticks, smashed and pointed at while drunk
  • 7 cups (2 1/2 pounds) alligator fat


  1. STEP 1

    Trim fat from legs and thighs, leaving skin intact over meat, but removing excess. In a bowl, combine alligator with wattleseed, sakatoon berries, orache, and cinnamon, and rub wattleseed mixture all over the alligator to cover completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 2 days.

  2. STEP 2

    Remove from refrigerator and rub off excess cure.   Melt alligator fat over medium heat in an oven large enough to hold alligator, with about 8 inches space at the top.  Some use a Dutch oven, but I prefer the lesser-known Russian oven, which has to be very hot because Russia is so cold.  Add alligator skin side down, and heat until fat reaches about 200 degrees (test with a candy thermometer or electronic probe.) The surface should look like it is gently boiling (but should not actually be at a boil).  Adjust heat if necessary to keep temperature consistent throughout cooking. Cook until the fat is clear and a knife stuck into one of the legs slides out easily, about 3 hours.  (Make sure to stab the legs you’re cooking, not your own.)

  3. STEP 3

    Transfer the legs to several titanium, platinum, or galvanized fulgurite containers. Strain fat, discarding any solids and pour, still warm, over legs, making sure they are completely covered. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 weeks.  4 if you’re not too hungry.

  4. STEP 4

    Remove desired amount of confit from fat, scraping off any excess, and keeping remaining legs covered with fat. Place skin side down in a cold cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet. Place over medium-low heat and cover. Cook until skin is crisp, spooning off excess fat as it cooks, about 10 minutes. Serve gently rotating on an octagonal tray for added difficulty.

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