It's a good excuse for a feast with a lot of friends.
Doing your own pig or lamb roast usually means setting up a whole rig in your backyard or alley. But one chef in town is offering whole smoked pig, lamb, goat, and even alligator-- serving them in a ritual feast that is sure to attract a crowd.
Having a smoker is nothing new. But where most restaurants are content to serve ribs, briskets or shoulders, Brian Jupiter is taking things a little bit further. At Frontier - a casual bar and restaurant in Noble Square - Jupiter devotes a section of his menu to "whole animal service," featuring pigs, lambs, goats, wild boar.. even alligator.
"It allows them to get rid of their entire product instead of breaking it down and sitting on too much shoulder, on one particular cut of meat," said Jupiter.
It's also about flavor. There is no denying that meat off-the-bone tastes better. After he smokes an entire pig, for example, the animal is dissected back at the chef's table, in the enormous kitchen.
"You get to taste an entire animal with, you know, you compare the textures and flavors of each cut, you know we separate them all so you get them one at a time so you can compare, you can try them all out," he said.
This time of year, the alligators coming from the South are a tad smaller, so they'll most likely arrive in pairs. Basted in a Cajun-garlic sauce, the flavor is somewhere between chicken and sea bass. Jupiter ramps it up by stuffing his alligators with chicken wings for an extra treat. Like all of the whole animal orders, they come with two barbecue sauces - a dark, rich, Texas and a creamy white Alabama - plus plenty of sides. In the case of the alligator, a jambalaya embedded with alligator sausage and chives is standard; other typical sides include a crock of 5-cheese mac, a massive bowl of Caesar salad with polenta croutons the size of a child's fist, colorful vegetarian succotash and a plate of warm Johnny cakes.
The feasts feed at least a dozen people, and you've got to call ahead a few days. But when that fully-smoked animal hits the table, there's no question you'll get in touch with your inner caveman.
"There's a lot of 'awh,' you know. Even the people that order it, you know they don't know what to expect either because you really don't know that many people that has eaten a whole gator," said Jupiter.
The cost for a whole animal feast ranges from $500 - $600. But again, that will feed 12 to 15 people. They also offer whole bird service, including duck, goose, quail and pheasant.
1072 N. Milwaukee
- Serves 12 - 15 (5 day pre-order required; additional fees may apply for larger parties)
- Pig: $550
- Lamb: $575
- Goat: $575
- Wild Boar: $600
- Alligator: Market Price (this also comes with alligator sausage jambalaya with chives)
served with 5 cheese mac, caesar salad with polenta croutons, succotash and johnny cakes
- Frontier also does whole bird service ($350):
- roasted Moulard duck stuffed with house duck andouille, smashed fingerling potatoes
- twice cooked Peking duck with habanero maple syrup & buttermilk biscuits
- goose rillettes, pear mostarda, grilled sourdoug
- chargrilled quail, celery root & bacon hash, arugula salad
- BBQ pheasant, succotash, fried okra
- southern fried guinea fowl, potato salad, pickled green beans
serves 8-10 (3 day pre-order required)