3 New And Exotic Meat Alternatives

Whether it’s poultry, beef, fish, lamb or pig, there’s enough culinary diversity to satisfy almost any meat eater’s palette. For those seeking alternative sources of protein, here’s a few options – some exotic and some more familiar – to tackle and serve at that next dinner party:

Alligator meat
According to the Wall Street Journal, alligator meat has become widely popular in recent years with restaurants and TV cooking shows alike. Wholesale gator meat can cost up to $15 per pound, up from $7 in 2012. The meat itself is often marketed as a leaner, more protein rich substitute to chicken or pork; in fact, a 3.5 ounce slice of gator meat has as much as twice the protein as beef, explains Livestrong. Additionally, the meat is often much more tender as alligators are harvested much younger. Because of these qualities, gator meat is used in quite a few different recipes, notes The Times-Picayne. As a rule, gator can be substituted for beef, chicken and fish, and popular options include gumbo, tacos and fried gator with a garlic aioli dipping sauce.

Ostrich meat
More and more, ostrich is gaining a place in many chef’s kitchens. As Food Republic notes, it’s a hugely beneficial option, with fewer calories than most poultry and up to 90 percent less fat than beef. It’s also rich in iron, with a similar taste panel to other red meats. Ostriches also have a solid carcass dressing percentage of 58 percent, meaning one 250-pound bird yields 130 pounds of meat. That’s comparable to most beef, per Cornell University, which has a percentage of 59 percent. Because of its comparable nature to beef, ostrich steaks are often the most popular, and are routinely paired with rice or vegetables. Other options include burgers, meatballs and roasts.

Pigeon meat
Though pigeons are considered unsanitary, some Asian cultures have been consuming these birds for 2,000 years. As the U.K.’s The Guardian reported, the common wood pigeon is not only rich in protein, but their diet of grains and greenery gives them a more nuanced taste panel. Young pigeons, often referred to as the more noble sounding squabs, are also among the most bred animals in Europe, with countless literature available online. And, as New South Wales’ Department of Primary Industries notes, squabs have a quick yield time, with most birds ready in under 30 days and weighing as much as 2 pounds. Ironically enough, many pigeon recipes are especially ornate, perhaps bucking most stereotypes. Recipes include Moroccan pancakes stuffed with pigeon and squab in compote, a sweet French dessert featuring sugar syrup and fruit.

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