Friday, September 30, 2011

Alligator Loin Poached in Butter and White Wine with Three Remoulade Sauces and Vegetable Quinoa with Two Wine Pairings

Butter and White Wine Pouched Alligator Bites

If you are thinking I wrestled and alligator for this pairing, you may be right.  What is life without a little adventure?  When the opportunity to draw outside the lines presents itself, jump on it. 

About a month ago, while visiting my favorite butcher (Nick’s of Calvert), Chef Sue noticed a display case featuring a selection of meats that are a little off the beaten path – including alligator loin.  Of course, the alligator jumped into my basket tempting me to expand my culinary repertoire.  I wrestled with the idea of preparing alligator, and the alligator ended up on my plate.

My experience with eating alligator is limited.  The two times I have tasted alligator, they were battered and fried much like you would expect with batter fried shrimp.  Both experiences were pleasant, but I thought the batter and frying process disguised the flavor and muddled the texture of the alligator.  With this in mind, I set out to prepare the alligator in a way that let the flavor and texture of the alligator take center stage.

My approach was simple.  Wrestle and alligator – and win.  In a large skillet, I heated two tablespoons of butter, added the alligator which had been cut into bite size pieces, then added a cup of white wine after sautéing the alligator for about one minute.  I continued to poach the alligator for another 5 minutes, then lightly seasoned with salt and pepper before removing from the heat.

To accompany the alligator, I made three remoulade dipping sauces – mostly because I could not decide which approach I wanted to take.  The first was a spicy Cajun horseradish remoulade.  The second was a mustard influenced remoulade, and the third a white cheddar cheese remoulade served warm.

With the alligator cut into bite size pieces, and several tasty dipping sauces, this is a perfect football food.  The quinoa is not necessary if you are doing football food.  But it was a tasty addition to our meal.  In this case, I grabbed a few vegetables from the drawer, sautéed them with a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and added to the quinoa when it was finished.

2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Sonoma County Fume Blanc-1

The pairing for the evening featured two wines.  I provided a 2010 Dry Creek Vineyards Sonoma County Fumé Blanc.  Joining me for the evening were good friends Richter and Meredith who brought a 2009 Breaux Vineyards Jolie Blond Virginia Seyval Blanc.

Tasting Notes from Dry Creek Vineyards:

“This new vintage harkens back to the early days of Fumé Blanc at Dry Creek Vineyard. At first swirl, pungent grassy aromas framed by kaffir limes leap from the glass. On the palate, the wine displays racy citrus characters along with granny smith apples, Meyer lemon and orange zest. The grassy elements repeat on the finish with acidity that is both refreshing and brisk. Dave Stare pioneered this style back in 1972 and this wine certainly carries forward all of those old school elements. Simply delicious!”

2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Sonoma County Fume Blanc

For our group of tasters, the citrus and acidity were the key characteristics that really made this pairing sing.  While the grassy components noted by the winemaker were not comments I heard at the dinner table, all agreed this was a great pairing.  The freshening acidity was key to making the pairing work with the three remoulade interpretations.  Of the three, the decidedly best combination was this Fumé Blanc in concert with the mustard based remoulade.

2009 Breaux Vineyards Jolie Blond Virginia Seyval Blanc-1

Tasting notes from Breaux Vineyards:

“Lemon zest, white grapefruit, and mineral undertones describe the flavor profile of our Seyval Blanc. Enjoy with seafood dishes.”

This wine is very pleasant and enjoyable.  Although not noted in the winemaker’s tasting notes, this wine also featured a notable oak flavor that stood out in comparison to the Dry Creek Fume Blanc.  The acidity was also subdued in comparison which made this a good, but less than ideal pairing with the remoulades.  The wine paired nicely with the alligator and white cheddar remoulade, or simply alligator sans remoulade, but the subdued acidity and the oak made the pairing with the other two remoulade sauces slightly less than impressive.

2009 Breaux Vineyards Jolie Blond Virginia Seyval Blanc

As a final note on the alligator, I would highly recommend taking this poaching method under consideration rather than the more common fried approaches.  The meat was tender, full of wonderful texture, and just a hint of fish flavor.  Tasting the alligator without the distractions of batter was a pleasant surprise.

Butter and White Wine Pouched Alligator Bites-1


Cajun Mustard Remoulade


  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons rustic coarse ground mustard sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free Cajun-Creole seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well blended

Spicy Horseradish Remoulade


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup horseradish
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon pepper sauce. I used Trinidad Pepper Sauce, but anything similar like tobasco will work.
  • 1 teaspoon paprika


  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and chill at least one hour.

White Cheddar Cajun Remoulade


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Combine all ingredients except butter, heavy cream, and cheese and mix will.
  2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and cheese with the heavy cream.
  3. Add the mixture of other ingredients, stir well to combine, and heat to serving temperature.
  4. Serve immediately.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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