FAYETTEVILLE, Ar. – As Texans, we are very familiar with the barbecue scene. We've seen things on the pit that we didn't know could be grilled, but a barbecue restaurant in Arkansas is bringing it to a whole other level with alligator meat.
JJ's Brew & Que in Fayetteville put together a show-stopper for tailgaters at the Arkansas Razorbacks and Florida Gators game Saturday with a 5-foot-long alligator, including the head, with the body wrapped completely in bacon.
JJ's Brew & Que Pitmaster David Deuster said Heath Noland, a regular customer of JJ's, approached him about the idea.
"I was kind of taken back," Deuster said. "I have never smoked an alligator before."
Noland bought the alligator from a meat market in northwest Arkansas, who got it shipped from Florida, of course.
Deuster said contacted to Houston pitmaster Grant Pinkerton of Pinkerton's Barbecue, for advice on how to smoke the reptile. Pinkerton smoked one for the Houston Barbecue Festival.
Deuster said JJ's has been inspired by the barbecue scene in Houston and has been wanting to bring the Texas barbecue style to northwest Arkansas.
Deuster said prepping the alligator took about 12 hours from start to finish.
"We brined him, seasoned it with rub, wrapped it with bacon and put it in the smoker at 6 a.m. Saturday," Deuster said.
And if you're curious about the bacon, Deuster told KPRC 2 that it took six pounds to cover the 34-pound gator. That's a lot of bacon! It was also slow-smoked over oak for about three hours.
The alligator was taken to Donald W. Reynolds Razoraback stadium, and it was on display for Arkansas and Florida fans. Deuster said many people would stop to take photos and asked a lot of questions.
"People would ask if we were going to eat him," Deuster said.
Many people were shocked when they opened the pit to reveal an entire gator, and others were not big fans of it. However, enough people liked it to devour the entire gator.
"It was completely cleaned within about 45 minutes to an hour," Deuster said.
Arkansas ended up winning the game 31-10.