Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Whole Iguana II - Sous Vide

Iguana was a meat I thought I had figured out. It was just plain good: easy to prepare, mild and good at taking on the tastes you choose to go with it. That was, until I just tried it again.

I'd tried it three times before. First, was barbecued iguana cooked by some of my friend's laborers from Mexico. It was the best. Second, was iguana pieces I grilled on our grill - pretty good. Third, was a whole three pound iguana I skinned and cooked sous vide - very good. I'd decided I wanted to try a bigger iguana. That desire was fueled when we saw some large green iguanas in St. Thomas on our cruise to the Caribbean.
Green iguana on St. Thomas, one of many we saw.
I found a large six pound iguana in the freezers at Exotic Meat Market located in Grand Terrace. I picked it up and had it in our freezer waiting for an opportune time. That time arrived when my granddaughters arrived for a visit. They are adventurous eaters and they love lizards. I thought they would love seeing this big iguana and then getting to taste it. 
I love the orange legs and feet.
Surprisingly, the larger iguana seemed harder to skin than the smaller one. The rough skin was like sandpaper and roughed up my hands as I clipped and pulled and yanked to get the skin off the iguana torso, legs and tail.
My granddaughters give some conception of the size of it. 
After I had the skin off, I cut it into pieces to put into vacuum sealed bags for the sous vide. 

I tried different ingredients in different bags. In one I put in chopped and fried jalapenos, Anaheim chilies, dark cherry balsamico and a good dose of Robert Is Here Florida Orange and Vidalia Onion Hot Sauce (great stuff). This combo of ingredients was fantastic. In another bag I put in onion, garlic, rosemary, cayenne pepper, lime juice, salt and pepper, along with some of the jalapeno and Anaheim chilies. This was also a very nice combination. 

I put all of the bags in the sous vide at 60 degrees Centigrade and cooked one bag for 3 hours, 40 minutes. The ingredients in the bag were fantastic, we used is as gravy on baked potatoes, but the iguana was stiff, not tender at all. My previous whole iguana I'd cooked for 9 1/2 hours and I realized I might be taking it out too early, but it was dinner time and we wanted to eat.
The ingredients cooked with the iguana were delicious and made nice gravy for the potatoes. 
So the rest stayed in the sous vide for a total of about 27 hours. The downside of such a long cooking time was that the beautiful pepper condiments were mostly mush. The taste was nice, but the presentation and mouth feel was not anywhere as pleasing. The iguana was much more tender with the extra cooking time, but still nowhere as nice and tender as my three pound iguana after 9 1/2 hours. That surprised me. 
Note that the peppers are not as pronounced on the iguana meat. We ate it the next day along with a kale salad with avocado and oranges and a mixture of corn, black-eyed peas, olives, and chopped tomatoes. 
In thinking through my cooking post-mortem I've concluded a couple of things. Smaller iguanas are more tender and a better choice. But if you want to try a larger iguana because of a larger crowd or just the fun of doing one that size, then brine it over night to break down the meat and plan on a long cooking time, perhaps several days (perhaps trying part of it after 10 or 12 hours to get a sense for how it is going). 

Iguana is a very fun meat to cook. It is exotic looking, it provides lots of meat, and it combines well with many kinds of ingredients. 

1 comment:

  1. I think our grandgirls actually felt kind of bad eating it, lizard lovers that they are. We'll have to try iguana in Mexico cooked by people who cook it often and see what we think there.