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July 4th Meal Recap–Especially Those Alligator Legs!


Let’s face it. When one wants to be an known as a barbecue expert, one’s grill game has to be tight. At this point in my life, I’m far better at eating barbecue than cooking it. My dad usually handles the barbecuing during the summer holidays, but I volunteered to cook the Fourth of July meal.

My dad’s double barrel smoker.

This meal was going to be a challenge because my dad has a very old school, double barrel smoker. With a small opening on one side to vent air, and possibly add more fuel. Fire control would be key. I planned to use a mix of charcoal and pre-soaked hickory wood chunks for fuel. 

I had three slabs of pork spareribs, and I seasoned them alternately with Savory Spice Company’s Platte River Rib Rub and an Appalachian Pork Rub that I got at a past Southern Foodways Alliance symposium. I put an Arthur Bryant’s rub on my chicken. Then I got some freezer-inspired mojo. Why not try to smoke some alligator legs that I got from Ronald Brooks, a self-described, African American Cajun from Opelousas, Louisiana?  Brooks belongs to my church, and he runs a barbecue restaurant in Aurora, Colorado (here’s a restaurant critic’s review of his place).

I could tell right away that the alligator legs were lean, so I had to figure out how to get some flavor without drying them out. I used a marinade, and the Arthur Bryant’s spice rub mentioned above. I also sprayed them an apple juice/cider vinegar mop that I used for my ribs.

Several hours later, here’s the end result:

The pork spareribs had great flavor, but they were chewier than I would have liked. Still, no complaints from my family. I did mop along the way, so I need to figure out how to have tender ribs relying on a rub for flavor and slightly crunchy exterior.

The chicken turned out very well. A nice hickory flavor, a nice amount of spice on the skin, and tender meat through out. 

Ah, the alligator legs. They tasted like chicken . . . rubber chicken. I messed up by trying to smoke them using an indirect heat method. Despite my attempts to keep them moist, they were very chewy. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have injected with some flavored liquid like some do on the barbecue competition circuit. I also would have grilled them directly over the fire, on high heat. Lesson learned. Now, I need to figure out how to salvage them because I hate throwing away food.

All was not lost. some bratwurst and jalapeno cheddar sausage for additional meat, coleslaw, potato salad and roasted ears of corn. And . . . we ended everything with my favorite dessert: Lemon icebox pie!




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