Panéed Alligator at Molly's in Soulard


The panéed alligator at Molly's in Soulard - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • The panéed alligator at Molly's in Soulard
There aren't many places in St. Louis where you can order alligator -- to my knowledge, only at Broadway Oyster Bar and, now, Molly's in Soulard (816 Geyer Avenue; 314-241-3200) -- so you should avail yourself of the opportunity.

At Molly's, chef Bryan Flaxbeard serves panéed alligator ($11.95), which he describes as "an upscale version of what you'd typically find in true Louisiana/Cajun cuisine."

"Most of the people I know that cook 'gator, they fry it and then dip it in a chile or [other] sauce," he says.

Flaxbeard riffs on this by coating the alligator in a buttermilk batter and then pan-frying it. He tops this with blue crab meat and sauces it with chive oil and a Crystal hot sauce reduction.

The alligator itself has a relatively mild flavor -- if you want to say that it tastes like chicken, then it would have to be the more flavorful dark meat -- that the blue crab's buttery sweetness rounds out.

The Crystal reduction is what really makes this dish work: Each batch is made by reducing a gallon of the hot sauce to a quart, resulting in a even more piquant vinegar-pepper taste. The heat is mild, but it gives the alligator just the right pop.