We eat a lot of alligator.

The state of Louisiana is our source and with a gator population north of 1.5 million there’s plenty to be had in the meat markets that dot the western prairies of the Pelican State. Louisiana has had a controlled wild harvest in place since 1972.

Back when the harvest got started, it was limited to the southwestern part of the state and only twelve hundred creatures were taken. Nowadays the hunt is statewide and skilled woodsmen take over thirty two thousand of the ornery beasts per annum. Pole hunting is prohibited and the majority of the animals are taken via the time-honored line catching technique. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some old school Cajuns out there with a spotlight and a high powered rifle.

Alligator is delicious.

Now that Hatch Chile season has arrived we’ve been in the kitchen nightly, tinkering with recipes to feature the delicious, seasonal pepper. Like this one:

Smoked Alligator Enchiladas With Roasted Hatch Chiles

Ingredients

2 lb Chiles, Hatch, roasted, chopped

1 lb Alligator, smoked, chopped

2 lb Tomatilla, roasted

1 12 oz Can, Milk, Evaporated

1 qt Stock, chicken

1 lb Cheese, Colby/Jack, shredded

18 each Tortillas corn

Method

* Pulse tomatillos and Hatch Chiles in food processor til almost smooth

* Bring chicken stock to boil

* Add evaporated milk, return to boil, reduce

* Combine with tomatillo mixture

* Cook tortillas in hot fat til right at crispy

Now let’s build the casserole

* Coat 9″ x 14″ casserole pan with olive oil

* Pour a skift of tomatillo sauce in bottom of pan

* Add 6 corn tortillas

* Place enough chopped gator to cover tortillas

* Drizzle with tomatillo sauce

* Cover with cheeses

* Repeat order above til casserole is finished making sure top layer is cheese

* Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes

* Let casserole sit up for a few minutes before slicing

Voila!

A few nights ago a friend was in town visiting from Arizona when we made this recipe.

“What smells so good”

“I’m making a pan of gator enchiladas”

Shrieks

“GOD IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK IN TEXAS…NOBODY SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT IN ARIZONA”

Texas forever

Cooking notes:

* Garnish with a hefty dollop of crema Salvadorena.

* I normally use heavy cream to unify the sauce, but I was out so I utilized evaporated milk instead.

* Evaporated milk is regular milk that has been reduced by sixty percent. It’s a classic casserole ingredient used by housewives all over the Deep South.

* A good side dish for this one dish meal would be Pinto Beans With Jalapenos and Bacon http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2011/6/7/Deluxe-Side-Dishes-For-Central-Texas-Barbecue-Pinto-Beans-With-Jalapenos-and-Bacon

and/or Cajun Green Onion Rice Pilaf http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2011/1/15/How-To-Make-Cajun-Green-Onion-Rice

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