Six Ways to Cook Iguana

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Now that the temperature has finally taken a dip, watch for dead iguanas falling out of trees!  (See photo, taken in Oakland Park last January.) South Florida's plague of big green lawn lizards was culled somewhat last winter by a cold snap that killed legions of the critters. The canal banks where they once basked sat saturated with rotting corpses. 

But enough of that. We're here to tell you that iguanas are actually good eatin'. In parts of the Caribbean, it's not unusual to see young boys with a stack of skewered iguanas, taking them home to cook. South Florida could solve two problems at once -- hunger and lizard overpopulation -- by adopting their diet. (The St. Pete Times last year ran an article headlined "Iguana hunter: We might as well eat them," which pointed out how the animals mess up the natural ecosystem and pointed out that there is no law against killing them.)

John Harry Hynds, who has lived in the Cayman Islands but now makes his home on the Honduran island of Roatan in the southwest Caribbean, traveled to South Florida during his days working for Royal Caribbean. He sees no reason why iguana can't make it to local menus. 

Some people don't like the little bones, but we can tell you -- if enough people find out how delicious these verdant reptilians are, they might not be around to eat your damned hibiscus and crap everywhere.

But there's one bit of unpleasantness to deal with before you can get started. 

"First, you gotta kill 'em," explains Harry.
"Den, you scald 'em in the hot water. You can peel the skin off, but most people on the island just scrape it with a knife. Some people doesn't scrape it off; dey eats the hide and ever'ting. You gots to cut open his belly, take everything out.

"Dese are different ways you can cook iguana," he says, "and make it taste... good enough, you know? Just like chicken." 

6. Simple stewed Iguana
"Yeah, the first way is you just cook 'em in a little coconut milk. And you call dat, like, a 'stew-down,' right? You serve it with rice."
 
5. Island-style macoy
"You can also get 'em and cook 'em up with coconut milk, but you can put 'em with conch, rabbit, breadfruit and banana, plantains, carrots, all different kinda stuff. We mix dat all up and we calls dat macoy." 

4. Boneless iguana con huevos
"Den, some people stew the 'guana, and they stew it down to the bone. Den, dey takes the bone out and it taste really good. Dat one they cook with coconut oil, and dey puts in the eggs, the 'guana eggs, you know. And den you puts beans an' rice, banana, and yucca. And dat taste so delicious [laughs]." 

3. Steamed iguana 
"Den, some people, dey also stew it and make a sauce of it. Dey cook it with coconut oil too, but dey adds a little water. And dey sort of steams it dat way. It's served with beans, a little rice, bananas, and yuccas. That bees a good, good meal, mon." 

2. Tijuana style
"Another way is you can cook it on a grill. You can barbecue it if you want to. Me and my cousins did dat when we was young, 'cause we liked to make our own food, we like to cook. We take him from de tree with a slingshot! 

1. Fry his green ass up!
"Or, you could just fry 'im up with fried plantains. Delicious, mon! It's so good."

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB

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2 comments
jcfkeys2
jcfkeys2

 I've been shooting iguanas with ;my BB gun and I use a gardening glove to pick them up off the ground and throw them in the ocean. It sometimes takes several BBs to kill an iguana because their hide is tough and sometimes their tail wiggles for about 5 minutes. So some questions:

 Should I skip the garden glove if there's no chance of rabies or lyme disease?

   Should I remove the BBs before cooking jor pick them out later?

   Do you barbeque the tail or snip in the stew?

   Is their an appropriate size for cooking? One that hangs out by my pool is about 6' long and craps in the pool. This one resists BBs and I'm calling the NRA for an appropriate way to put him to sleep.

                                                         Thanks for your help     Kevin of the Keys

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