Bad Tattoo Brewing’s newest creation will have you saying ‘Crikey!’ once you’ve tasted their crocodile pizza.
Specially ordered from a farm in Australia, the Penticton brewery and restaurant decided to go wild and experiment with crocodile meat–the tail meat specifically. Donnie Carlson, head chef and dough boy at Bad Tattoo, said the idea to use an exotic meat as a topping arose during the recent Snakebite Film Festival.
“We were looking at funny stuff to do for a special. Our friend, Carl Meadows, held the Snakebite Film Festival a few weeks ago and we wanted to get rattlesnake for that night as a cross-promotion,” said Carlson. “But Sysco can’t stock it anymore, it used to be something you could buy… then we found the crocodile.
“It’s a farmed product out of Australia and what we’re using is the tail, so it’s a tail fillet.”
Carlson said the meat comes frozen and staff only thaw as needed to preserve its freshness. He said this meat has surprising characteristics that one wouldn’t expect.
“It’s actually really high in protein and super low in fat compared to chicken. It’s just one of those things that’s weird, so people don’t eat it. But it’s actually not as weird as you expect when you eat it,” said Carlson. “It’s very similar to halibut in flavour, but it’s kind of similar to catfish in texture. So it’s tougher when it’s raw, and the joke of it tasting like chicken is very true.
“That’s why we designed the pizza as like a barbecue chicken pizza. Except it’s barbecue sauce, ranch, and croc… If I didn’t tell you (it was crocodile), you probably wouldn’t notice.”
All dough for Bad Tattoo pizzas is made fresh, in-house and Carlson said they make a simple thin crust to “focus on the toppings.” A pizza takes about four minutes to fully cook in the restaurant’s pizza oven, another reason why thin crust is an advantage.
Carlson said the biggest challenge, aside from keeping the meat fresh, is overcooking. He explained that crocodile meat can dry out and become tough if it spends too long cooking, but because of the short cooking time in their oven they can avoid that.
“It kind of is the perfect cooking method for it. Goes on raw, comes out super quick so it stays tender,” said Carlson. “It’s actually not that chewy because we cut it thin as well.”
The crocodile meat is paired with a mild-spiced barbecue sauce, crunchy onions, cilantro, mozzarella cheese and poblano ranch. Carlson said this specialty pizza will be available “all spring and summer” until the end of September until they switch back to their fall and winter menu.
Carlson said the crocodile pizza is best paired with a bitter IPA, but said any beer goes with pizza in general.
“This is definitely one of the weirdest ingredients we’ve brought in, even in the process of getting it. No one carries crocs, so we had to get it special-ordered in,” said Carlson. “It’s pretty expensive but it’s just too cool not to do it. And working with any raw product gives you that extra layer of challenge in cooking it. But I think it’s worth that challenge because it’s just such a unique item.
“How often can you say you’ve had something like crocodile?”
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