The mere mention of eating goat tends to illicit a head tilting, bewildered look, normally followed with a half smile and something along the lines of: “Eh, really?” or “Goat huh, um… why?”. To most, there is a stigma or stereotype when it comes to goat meat: Only poor, ethnic people eat it. Or it’s a bad substitute for lamb (it’s the red headed step child of the edible mammal kingdom evidently).
Now there are plenty of other stereotypes I’ve heard as well: it’s gamey, tough, dry, chewy, tastes like butt and the list of uneducated, ignorant comments (from those who’ve never tried it) goes on. Ironically, goat cheese has founds itself on the pedestal of trendy, high end food items, while goat meat has been reserved for those who couldn’t buy lamb (or chicken or beef or pork or … you get the point).
My hope with this post is to break the notion that goat meat sucks. Because not only does goat meat not suck, it’s actually delicious, super healthy (take that beef) and normally affordable, when you can find it.
When it comes to goats, I’ve got an insider connection. My parents have a small goat ranch (Sonoma Hills Ranch), tucked away in a pristine part of Northern California, surrounded by oak trees and vineyards. They supply some of the top restaurants in the area, who are featuring goat more often and selling out of it just as quickly. They tend to have 25-40 Boer goats at a time there. If you’re a goat, this is paradise (up until the red truck picks you up). The goats spend their days feeding on grass and alfalfa, roaming the open pastures and generally enjoying life. It does not suck to be a goat here. And those happy goats translates into happy plates of food. A few keys to any good braise: get a good, initial sear on the meat, saute the mirepoix long enough so it caramelize and don’t forget to reduce the sauce at the end. The balsamic adds a nice brightness to the dish and if you’re afraid of a “gamy goat”, the acid will cut through and let the tender meat shine. Time to impress your friends, skip the lamb and braise a goat.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 meaty goat shoulder, bone-in
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, sliced diagonally
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced for garnish
- 2 teaspoon harissa powder
- 2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- small handful of raisins
- Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large, enameled cast iron dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Mix all the dried spices together in a bowl and set aside. On a large plate, season the goat should generously with salt and pepper and the spice mix. Use hands to rub the mix everywhere.
- When the dutch oven is almost smoking, add the shoulder and brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes total. Remove the shoulder once brown and place on plate. Add the veggies to the hot dutch oven and allow to caramelize, 5-7 minutes. Season veggies with salt and pepper. Add oregano and bay leaf.
- Add white wine and allow it to reduce by half. Nestled the goat shoulder in with the veggies in the pot and add the chicken stock and balsamic. The liquid should almost cover it. If not, add some water or more stock or wine. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 3.5 hours or until meat is falling off the bone. Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes or so.
- Remove from oven and place goat and carrots on a clean plate. Place the dutch oven on the stove, turn the heat on high and reduce the liquid to almost a syrupy consistency.
- Strain the sauce into a bowl or pot. Add the carrots, raisins if you so desire and the goat back into the liquid so they stay warm. You can either serve it at this point or wrap it up and let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with cilantro and a few carrots, a spoonful of the sauce and a few raisins. Goes great on top of polenta or cous cous.