Whole Smoked Gator RecipeY’all know I’m all about learning how to cook just about anything on the smoker or grill. Alligator is one animal that I never would have attempted on my own. So when my buddy The BBQ Ninja, Mr. Craig Verhage himself, offered to stop by and show my how it’s done I jumped on the chance to learn something new. Craig typically catches, cleans, and cooks alligators he catches, but alligator season hasn’t started yet. So I called up my buddies at Gamekeeper Butchery and asked if they had a source for alligator. They had just what I was looking for and a couple days later a 31lb alligator showed up at my front door! It was froze solid to Chell’s delight, so I had to let it thaw out for a couple of days in the refrigerator. The rest of this recipe is all Craig! We started with a 24 hour cajun brine (recipe below). The gator was placed in a large cooler and the brine was poured over the top. We placed a 20# bag of ice over the gator to weigh it down and keep the cooler cold. After the brine, Craig trimmed all of the fat out of the gator’s tail. The tail is made up of 4 muscles with a thick layer of fat between each. If you don’t remove the fat the meat can have a “fishy” taste. The whole thing gets seasoned with my King Craw cajun seasoning and a good dose of Hot Rub since we’re smoking it. You can use just about any seasoning you want according to Craig. The tail is then stuffed with a cream cheese, spicy boudin mixture. Then we placed the gator on the pit. Ms. Jolene refused to let me cook such a beast on her, so I borrowed my buddy Mark Williams’ Outlaw Smoker. Mark told me Ladies Love Outlaws so I knew Ms. Jolene wouldn’t mind. (shout out to Swine Life BBQ if you’re not watching his channel go subscribe) Once the Outlaw was up to 275 using pecan wood, we loaded the gator on the cooking grate. It took about 4 1/2 hours for the gator to get to 165 internal in the tail where Craig said it was done. At this point we removed the gator from the pit and hit the bark with a 50/50 blend of my The BBQ Sauce and Vinegar Sauce. Then I jumped out of the way because, in true BBQ Ninja style, Craig broke out the propane torch and hit the gator with a “cajun brûlée”. The sauce quickly caramelized and looked beautiful. Don’t try that at home unless you’re experienced with a flame thrower! I did lend a little hand in garnishing the gator. I thought it would look cool if we propped the gator’s mouth open durning the cook with a wood block and at the end inserted a chicken its’ mouth; so I smoked a whole chicken on my Traeger along with a Low Country Steamer of shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes, and smoked sausage. This at least insured that I would have something delicious to eat if the gator wasn’t my speed. After the “Cajun Brûlée” we set the gator on the counter, poured the low country steamer in the center, and let the BBQ Ninja show me how he serves it up. First he removed the stuffing and pulled all of the muscles off the tail followed by the leg meat and jowls. Then he chopped it all up into bite size pieces. Craig likes to serve what he calls “gator rolls” (a play on the lobster roll). He places a little of the cream cheese boudin mixture into a hot dog bun, then piles on the chopped pieces of gator meat and tops it all with a drizzle of bbq sauce. I know it sounds crazy but I was shocked by how good it was!! This was definitely out of my wheel house, but now I feel like I could cook a pretty good gator should we ever cross paths! Print
The BBQ Ninja offered to stop by and show my how to smoke a whole gator – and I jumped on the chance to learn.
- 30lb Whole Alligator (dressed)
- 1/4 cup Malcom’s King Craw Cajun Seasoning
- 1/4 cup Killer Hogs Hot Rub
- 1 bottle Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce
- 1 bottle Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce
- Place the cleaned and dressed 30lb whole gator in an empty cooler. Pour the brine solution (recipe below) over the gator. 4 gallons total should cover the gator depending on the size of cooler you are using. Place a 20lb bag of ice over the gator to weight it down and keep it cold during the brine process. Soak the gator for 24 hours in the brine.
- Remove the gator from the brine and allow it to drain well. Pat the outside down with paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- Place the gator backside up on cutting board, split the tail muscles around the bone and trim away all the fat under and around the muscles.
- Season the gator with King Craw cajun seasoning and Killer Hogs Hot BBQ Rub on all sides. Stuff the tail cavity with the boudin cream cheese mixture (recipe below) and season the top of the stuffing with the same cajun and hot rub. Prop the gator’s jaws open with a block of wood (careful the teeth are sharp!)
- Place the gator on a 275 degree bbq pit using pecan wood for smoke flavor.
- Cook until internal temperature in the tail reaches 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer about 4 1/2 hours total.
- Remove the gator from the pit and glaze the outside with 50/50 Killer Hogs BBQ sauce and Killer Hogs Vinegar sauce.
- For garnish I smoked a whole chicken for 2 hours at 325 degrees on a pellet grill. Remove the block of wood and place the chicken in the gator’s mouth.
- Use a propane torch to caramelize the outside of the gator (Don’t try this at home unless you have experience with a torch!!)
- Garnish the gator with steamed shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes, and smoked sausage (this was my touch for the people that might not like gator)
- Remove the stuffing, tail muscles, tenderloin, leg meat, and jowls
- Chop the meat into bite size pieces
- Place a little of the stuffing into a hot god bun topped with chunks of the gator meat
- Drizzle the top with bbq sauce and enjoy!
Gator Brine Recipe
- 4 gallons water
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups salt
- 6oz Malcom’s King Craw cajun seasoning
- 2oz cup dry Louisiana crawfish/crab boil seasoning
- 2oz Louisiana liquid crab boil
- Juice from 2 lemons
Place one gallon of water in a large boiler pot. Add the sugar, salt, King Craw, dry crab boil, liquid crab boil and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer stirring often to dissolve dry ingredients. Remove from heat and allow cool to room temperature. You can stir in a little ice to speed the process. Add the remaining water and pour over the gator in a large cooler. The gator should be completely covered with the brine. Soak for 24 hours. Also helps to weight the gator down with a 20lb bag of ice.
Gator Stuffing Recipe
- 2 blocks cream cheese softened at room temperature
- 1 lb jalapeño pork boudin sausage casing removed
- 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
- 8 strips crispy bacon crumbled
- 1 Tablespoon King Craw cajun seasoning
Place the cream cheese, boudin, ranch mix, bacon, and King Craw in a large mixing bowl. Stir well to combine and store in the refrigerator until ready to stuff in the gator.
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