When was the last time you ate goat?
If you come from parts of Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, you may have it regularly, and maybe even cook it. According to Meat and Livestock Australia, a meat research group based in Sydney, goat meat is the most widely consumed meat in the world. Most Americans, though, are unfamiliar with it. If that includes you, here's a quick Goat Meat 101.
Goats are closely related to sheep, so when thinking about how you might cook goat, think about how you would cook lamb. Goat meat is very low in fat, with little or no marbling, so it is often cooked slowly and over low heat. Goat meat is referred to by a number of names, including kid, chevron, cabrito and mutton (which is also used for lamb in some cultures). It can be cooked as a stew or curry, baked, grilled, barbecued, fried or made into sausage.
A colleague tells me tells me she's been playing around with goat by substituting it into recipes like lamb ragu and lamb curry. Those sound good, but I recommend the roasting recipe below for making goat tacos.
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To prepare this dish, I bought an 8-pound goat leg. Frank, the butcher, cut the leg, bone-in, into 2- to 3-inch chunks.
The process of making this dish is long but easy; you just need to plan. I ordered the leg Wedensday, got it and marinated it on Thursday, cooked it Friday and then gave it a second roasting, getting a nice roast-y skin on top. We had six friends over, and barely made a dent in the quantity of meat.
The whole leg made about 20 servings. This would be a great dish for a big dinner party. The recipe can be adapted with different spices if any of the ones I list are unpalatable to you or your guests. It can also be served over rice, a little less shredded. Use your imagination, and have fun with it.
ROASTED GOAT FOR TACOS
Makes: 8-12 cups packed, shredded meat
- 1 leg of goat (5 to 8 pounds), bone-in
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed with back of a knife
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 3 strips lemon peel
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except meat and blend with a whisk. Place goat in roasting pan or bowls that will fit in refrigerator, and pour marinade over meat, toss to combine, cover, and refrigerate about 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in middle.
Nestle pieces in a hot saute pan (you might need two depending on quantity of meat) and brown on all sides (this could take 10 minutes), moving around and out to make room for more as needed. Cover with foil and move to oven. Roast for 2-3 hours, until meat is falling off the bone.
Remove from oven and let meat cool in its juices until cool enough to handle. Pull meat from bone, discarding bone and fat. Pour liquid through sieve into a fat-separating measuring cup or a tall straight-sided vessel such as a large canning jar. Let sauce sit until fat separates out and floats to the top.
Meanwhile, start shredding the meat off the bone with your fingers. Pick through the solids in sieve and separate out some of the tomato and garlic bits. Add them to the meat. Discard remaining solids such as bones, chunks of fat and bay leaves.
When fat has separated from meat juices, skim off as much fat as possible and discard. Pour sauce over meat and turn to coat. At this point, meat can be refrigerated again, covered, for 24 hours. When ready to serve, turn meat to coat with sauce and place in a suitable heavy oven-safe dish, covered tightly with foil, and cook until bubbling, about 30 minutes, removing cover for last few minutes to get a crust on the top layer of meat.
Serve goat with warm tortillas, chopped onion, sprigs of cilantro, shaved radishes, grilled green onion, sliced avocados, flame-broiled strips of chili pepper, your favorite salsa, small cubes of pineapple, etc.
(Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan is the founder of TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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