Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 3: Cajun aligator with sweet potato and salsa

Aligator? We don't have those in Minnesota right? Aside from hiding in my closet at Bethel University, an exotic pet store in good ol' Columbia Heights that has since closed, and probably the zoo, I've never heard of alligators in these parts. Certainly not organically raised, local meat for purchase at the Wedge. Luckily, we have chickens in Minnesota, which make for an excellent substitute.

If you haven't already guessed, this is Andy... Not Kristin. I've got a different perspective on this blog, mainly that I'm more into cooking than writing, but I guess I'm writing now, so you'll get to know me a bit too.

First off, my interests include bikes, wool, gore-tex, maple syrup, beer, and cast iron cookware. In this section, I'm going to talk about cast iron cookware. I've never owned an expensive pan or any other type of expensive cookware and at this point, I'm not interested. Cast iron seems to get more and more non stick as I use it and I've never had to touch it with soap. It's heavy as hell and consistently survives whatever I manage to do to it. I got my first cast iron skillet for Christmas in 2009 and I've used it an average at least a time or two a day since then. About a month and a half ago, I picked up a grill on one side and a griddle on the other piece of cast iron. It worked great tonight as I grilled my cajun chicken (see below).

So onto the recipe. This recipe is from british chef Jamie Oliver. His newest book, Jamie's America, is filled with some pretty decent recipes and pictures that remind me of the sheep-herding scenes from Brokeback Mountain. Like this one, below:

That's Jamie, on the right.

Anyways, even before the blog and change in shopping venues, the wife and I have made a ton of sweet potatoes in our day. Sweet potato oven fries, curry sweet potato hash browns, roasted sweet potato with bacon vinaigrette and yes, we've made this recipe before. Baked sweet potatoes are pretty awesome and even better with cajun chicken over them. The recipe in the book calls for a salsa that has a ton of parsley in it. I've made it both times and I've decided that I don't appreciate parsley that much. Anyways, here's a picture of the finished meal.

The beverage you see in the background is home-brewed hard cider.

I'm sure we'll come back to this recipe again, as we love sweet potatoes and the chicken has become a favorite, but I've got 140 recipes for salsa coming in the mail and I'm going to get away from the parsley next time.

Take care,


Cajun Aligator with Sweet Potato and Salsa, from Jamie's America:

4 sweet potatoes (approx. 1/2 pound each), wrapped in tin foil
1.75 pounds of aligator tail (or chicken breast), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

For the cajun marinade
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small bunch of oregano leaves, picked
a small bunch of thyme leaves, picked
1 fresh bay leaf, spine removed, torn into pieces
2 gloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard

For the salsa
3 scallions (we just used onion), chopped
1 fresh red chile, minced
2 green tomatoes (tomatillos), diced
1 red tomato, seeded and diced
a small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil (or less, if you want to cut down on the fat)

First make the marinade by mixing everything together and putting into a big bowl. Toss your pieces of meat in it until they are completely coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the tin foil-wrapped sweet potatoes for about an hour.

When the potatoes are nearly ready, make the salsa. Just put everything in a bowl, add a good pinch of sea salt, and stir it up.

When the sweet potatoes are ready, take them out of the oven, but leave them in the foil so they stay warm.

Cook the meat, using a wok, skillet, or grill, set to high heat. Let the strips cook for a few minutes on each side so they get some nice color.

Unwrap the potatoes and put them on plates. Score them down the middle, then gently squeeze them so they pucker up. Put the chicken on top, and cover with a few spoonfuls of salsa.



  1. My father would religiously seasoned his cast iron pans. Which is rubbing light layer with oil of choice i.e olive oil this seamed to help with things sticking to them. While not completely healthy is their a recipe you use to make your hard cider? It looks yummy.

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