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Gator Tail &
Drunkin' Swamp Puppies

A few wild recipes for you from my soon-to-
book "Made in the Glades"

The American alligator is alive and thriving in Florida wetlands, despite the fact that just a few decades ago the prehistoric creature was put on the endangered species list, after it's decline in the early twentieth century. Thanks to government intervention and conservation programs, wild alligator population has rebounded in great numbers statewide. That's not counting those commercially raised by licensed dealers throughout the State of Florida. The alligator has since been reclassified and no longer on the endangered species list but remains under strict regulation mainly due to to its close relation to crocodiles and caymens whose population is still suffering. You don't have to be a hunter or obtain any special permits to enjoy the unique flavor of this true Florida delicacy. In fact, once you've tried farm raised gator meat, you'll never go back to the wild kind.

Barbequed Alligator Tail

4 alligator tail steaks, about 3/4" thick
Milk for marinade
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
1/2- 1 tsp cayenne pepper or cajun seasoning
1/4 cup fresh chopped rosemary, or 1 tbs dried flakes
Red pepper flakes
Olive Oil for grilling

Place milk in a deep bowl, add pepper flakes and rosemary. Season meat with black and cayenne pepper. Place meat in the bowl, add milk to cover. Let marinate 3-4 hours or overnight in refrigerator. Remove meat from marinade, discard marinade. Pat the meat dry. Re-season the meat with black and red pepper. Add salt to taste, if desired. Brush meat with olive oil to reduce sticking, and grill over hot coals, or over medium heat in a gas grill for about 10 minutes each side, brushing with oil again when turning.

The Sabal or "Cabbage" Palm as it is known locally is Florida's state tree and a delicious part of Florida history. So much so that the ever popular Swamp Cabbage Festival was started in 1966 by LaBelle Jaycees as a way of preserving the town's colorful past and honor LaBelle's Pioneer families.

The heart of palm, "swamp cabbage " was harvested as a main food staple by early settlers who came to live here in the late 1800's and early 1900's but even before that, by the mighty Calusa tribe, and Seminoles who were forced into the Florida Everglades after the Seminole wars, and even troops of the Civil War.

The cabbage, with a little extra preparation is served in many imaginative recipes in much the same way as regular green cabbage. The problem with Swamp Cabbage is that when you harvest it, you kill the tree so these days because of preservation concerns, 'swamp cabbage" is considered more of a delecacy and its general harvesting is usully reserved for special occasions and local celebrations such as the Swamp Cabbage Festival . It is also served in upscale restaurants under the name 'Hearts of Palm' and is a canned, specialty food item in most supermarkets.

So unless you have an abundance of Sabal Palm trees on your own property and you are absolutely sure that its harvesting is legal in your own juristiction, I recommend the canned variety. I used it in the following recipe and it is absolutely fabulous!

Dewayne Beard's " Drunkin' Swamp Puppies"

This is a twist on the traditional Swamp Cabbage Fritter. I couldn't wait to try this recipe when given to me by Lola Beard and I saw the ease of preparation and surprising ingredients. I was not disappointed and either will you be.

1 can drained , rinsed, and chopped "Hearts of Palm"
1 pkg Hushpuppy Mix approx 10 oz.
1 smal finely minced onion
1 can 12 oz beer at room temperature or equal parts water.
1/2 tsp. Everglades Seasoning
1 egg white ( optional, if you want them extra fluffy )

Directions: Heat oil for deepfat frying to approx. 375 degrees. Forget what it says on the package, and combine listed ingredients. Spoon drop into hot oil, one at at a time making sure they don't lump up together. Fry until evenly browned. Using slotted spoon, remove from grease and drain on paper towels. Yields 20

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In Real Life Too! & Sherry Bocchicchio
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