Maybe we're just not meant to eat python
December 27, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

How should I cook python?

For Christmas, I received a pound of frozen python fillets. All the recipes and blog entries I've found about cooking python end with "despite my careful preparation, the python ended up tough and rubbery and we threw it out." Part of the problem is that I think it's an incredibly lean, muscular meat. A few of the preparations treated it like other snake meats, and those failed to work with python

I've called the exotic meat suppliers in the area and none of them are sure of how to treat it either. Is there a good way to cook this?
posted by punchtothehead to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Popcorn snake? Cut them up, bread them, and bake or fry. That's the only way I've ever had snake prepared that was remotely tasty.
posted by tealcake at 9:15 AM on December 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

This Straight Dope thread seems interesting, complete with Thai recipes for python, and some sensible advice with regard to lean, muscular meat in general.

If I were you, I'd slice it thin, beat the crap out of it, slow cook it in a beer sauce, and then put it in a stew. But then again, I've never had python.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:18 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've eaten crocodile a few times, which I imagine has a pretty similar lean texture. The only way that has been edible and not chewy was in a Thai restaurant where they battered it and very quickly fried it like you would a tempura prawn and then served it with a dipping sauce.
posted by wwax at 9:27 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just hypothesizing.. . but if you have access to a pressure cooker that might be a way to avoid the toughness. Every-time I cook meat in a PC it always comes out even more tender then i expect.

So.. er, just guestimating - oil/beer/spices 1 1/2 to 2 cups liquid, ~20 mins under high pressure.

Cutting it up in cubes.. perhaps ~15 mins
posted by edgeways at 9:30 AM on December 27, 2012

Try brining it
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 AM on December 27, 2012

My brother—the author of the recently released Eating Aliens: One Man's Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species—might have some tips for you. He's eaten plenty of snakes, although I'm not sure if he's specifically had python. He's not a MeFite, and your e-mail address isn't on your profile, but you're welcome to e-mail him and tell him I sent you.
posted by waldo at 11:16 AM on December 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Brining would help if it was dry, but not really with tough and rubbery. I don't think it would make a good stew or braise either, as those dishes require a fair amount of fat and collagen from the meat to melt for tenderness and the body of the liquid.

If the problem is that it is too lean and that makes it tough, you need a way to add fat and make it tender. Here are my suggestions:
  • Wrap the fillets in bacon before cooking, similar to filet mignon. Then do cook them quickly to medium rare over a hot flame. (I don't even know the proper temps for snake)

  • Grind the meat into snakeburgers. You could add some other fat in with the grinding, such as salt pork, beef trimmings, or even bacon

  • Fried, either deep fat fried or pan fried in a good amount of oil. Cut it small and bread it into nuggets

  • posted by I am the Walrus at 11:17 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

    waldo - thanks! I've sent an email.

    I think in the end we're going to try as many different ways as possible. I'll update with our results.
    posted by punchtothehead at 12:48 PM on December 27, 2012

    Kangaroo is very lean and muscular and is very easy to make into a chewy tough failure. The way to cook it is as a rare steak on a grill.
    posted by jacalata at 3:14 PM on December 27, 2012

    What about making python schnitzel? Slice it really thin and then pound it a whole bunch. Maybe add some meat tenderizer* to your seasoning too.... it's been a long time since I've cooked any meat but I remember making some really lean moose meat into a schnitzel that turned out okay.

    *I've never used that powder so dunno if it'll help at all.
    posted by glip at 3:51 PM on December 27, 2012

    I've eaten rattlesnake before, and it was in the form of rattlesnake cakes, sort of like crab cakes. I suppose that means it's ground and mixed with some breadcrumbs and vegetables such as celery and onion, along with some seasonings, and then panfried. It was pretty good and definitely not tough or rubbery. Make sure you have a good sauce to go along with it too.
    posted by Fuego at 4:49 PM on December 27, 2012

    We ended up trying three different preparations: 1. thinly sliced, breaded, and fried; 2. python cakes, and 3. marinated and sauteed.

    The fried pieces were rubbery to the point of being inedible. The cakes were surprisingly not bad, and the marinated pieces were somewhere between the two.

    We're going to try again with a longer marinating time and some meat tenderizer.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!
    posted by punchtothehead at 3:27 PM on February 4, 2013

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