It’s no lie. That title is correct. It started out as a joke. I was hanging out with a friend and he started cracking wise about my blog and the riskiness of it all. That’s when he laughingly said, “How about cooking snake?” I don’t think he ever expected my eyes to light up and for me to say, “Oooohhhh . . . that’s a GREAT idea!”
Thus began my adventure into the world of Python and Alligator Chili. Believe me when I tell you that even I shocked myself with this one. I have had an irrational fear of snakes ever since I was a kid and my brother threw a little garter snake at me. That fear only compounded over the years. I used to avoid the front yard because there were snakes in the bushes. I’d stay out of certain sections of the woods because of rumors of a Copperhead pit. I used to check underneath my bed every night to make sure there were no snakes hiding out under there. To this day, I still flinch everytime I see a snake on TV even though I know it can’t jump out of the screen at me. Irrational? Yes. Justified? No. Real, Honest-to-God fear? Absloutely!!!! So that’s why it came as a complete shock to my friends to hear that I wanted to cook a snake. The universal reaction was a look of disgust and a “Why would you want to do that? Yuck! Don’t give ME any.” I didn’t care about the naysayers. Come hell or high water, I was going to cook myself some snake.
The first issue was where to buy it. I went to a little specialty shop in Cambridge, MA named Savenors (Julia Child used to shop there) because they carry exotic meats. I had been told that they would have Rattlesnake so I went in with every intention of making Rattlesnake Chili. When they didn’t have Rattlesnake, I decided that improvisation was the key and that Python and Alligator would have to do as a substitute. Some substitute, huh? A very nice man who works at Savenors warned me about cooking the Python though. It is all muscle and tougher than shoe leather. Marinating for 24 hours followed by a long boil was essential. As for the alligator? He said that was pretty easy. No special handling required.
So off I went to make my oh-so-exotic chili. You would not believe how excited I was. I felt like a kid at Christmas only better. I was an adult who was going to eat me some Python.
Reptile . . . a.k.a. Python and Alligator . . . Chili
Ingredients—–(These measurements are such guess-timates)
- 1 lb. Python meat
- 1 cup of any acidic marinade you like (I used a bottled Chimichurri Marinade)
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb. chopped Alligator meat
- 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage (casings removed)
- 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 lb. diced bacon (I also threw in a little ham I had left over)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 diced sweet onion
- 1 diced bell pepper
- 2 diced Jalapeno peppers (I used seeds, veins and all for added heat)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 diced carrots
- 3 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. hot pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 10 shakes of Tabasco Sauce
- 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cans of dark red kidney beans
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Marinate the python for 24 hours in the acidic sauce. This will start the process of tenderizing the meat
- After marinating for 24 hours, bring chicken stock to a boil and add the Python meat. Boil the Python for about an hour or until you can pierce the meat somewhat easily with a fork. Dice into small and manageable pieces
- Roughly chop the alligator meat and add it to a large stock pot with the olive oil and bacon
- After cooking for 3-5 minutes, add the ground beef and sausage. Cook for 5 more minutes while breaking up the ground meat with a fork
- Once the sausage and beef are no longer pink, drain any excess fat
- Add all of the remaining ingredients including the Python. Feel free to approximate with the spices. With chili, I just tend to dump a bunch in and hope for the best
- Cook low and slow for 1-2 hours
- Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and anything else that suits your fancy
I was SHOCKED!!!! It was actually pretty good. I know. I know. You’re probably saying to yourself that it’s pretty hard to screw up chili. Any half decent cook can make it without a problem. Yet I feel that I must remind you here that I used Python and Alligator meat, not just your run of the mill ground beef. I fully expected it to be pretty gross and to spit it out after the first bite. I even had a back up dinner plan of beef tenderloin steaks (nice consolation prize, huh?) for when I had to toss away my pot of exotic nastiness. I could not have been happier when it turned out to be a dish that was not only edible, but tasty. I was even able to foist some off on that friend of mine who challenged me to this little exercise. Turns out that he had quite a bit of faith in my cooking ability and may have liked it even more than I did. Who would have guessed? Now don’t get me wrong. Python and Alligator won’t be a part of my everyday repertoire. But for an occasional treat and a shocking party dish? Oh yeah!
So I must admit that I am pretty proud of myself with this one. It was an absolute blast to make and entirely in keeping with my self imposed mission of keeping things risky in the kitchen. The best part of it though? I ATE MY PHOBIA!!!!
God . . . I LOVE saying that.