Last year my friend Barbara and her husband Wayne picked up stakes and headed west. They started a unique business at the Spokane, Washington, farmer market. "What's Cooking" sold Corsican Goat Stew, Moroccan Leg of Goat, and Goat Shank with White Beans.
They were inspired to make these delicious entrées by their new friends, Sunny Jim, who were selling their goat meat at the same market.
"We were into locally sourcing all our ingredients," said Barbara. "We also did some amazing things with Yak." They had adventurous customers who grew to appreciate the international cuisines they offered. But once in awhile, even in food-savvy Spokane, the idea of goat meat was just too far "out there."
Barbara said one woman tried everything and was waxing poetic about the simple beauty of each sample dish she tried. "Her eyes were closed when she swirled the goat stew around her tongue," Barbara said. "Then I told her she was eating goat and she did an exaggerated spit take. She just could not go there. I think she was embarrassed."
But she's not alone. According to HenryAlford in The New York Times, "Indeed, goats have long held a lowly reputation. Scavengers, they are falsely accused of eating tin cans. Their unappetizing visage is simultaneously dopey and satanic, like a Disney character with a terrible secret. Their chin hair is sometimes prodigious enough to carpet Montana. Chaucer said they 'stinken.'"
Well, "stinken" or not, internationally famous chef Stephanie Izard (who won the fourth season of Bravo TV's Top Chef) and is co-owner and Executive Chef at both the Girl & the Goat and Little Goat in Chicago, proudly shows off what you can do with goat meat. Her last name, “Izard,” is French for a Pyrenees mountain goat, and for years she's been skittering and leaping over culinary peaks.
Izard prepares and serves goat in a variety of ways, including goat liver mousse, confit of goat belly, goat carpaccio, goat empanadas, and goat shank. Sloppy Joe Gone Goat is frequently on the menu and goat leg can be pre-ordered.
There are recipes for goat with almonds and apricots, with tomato and olives, with (I'm not kidding) hay and garlic. Not to mention a variety of goat stews, goat curry, goat tangine. Anthony Bourdain offers a recipe for 5-Hour Goat, in "Les Halles Cookbook."
Henry Alford said his conversion moment came one February when he went to a New York restaurant Cabrito and had the goat tacos. This hip taquería-style restaurant—which is named after the baby goat that is pit-barbecued in Texas and Mexico—marinates its meat for 24 hours before wet-roasting it over pineapple, chilies, onion, and garlic. "The resultant delicious pulled meat is tender throughout and slightly crisp and caramelized around the edges. Think lamb, but with a tang of earthy darkness. Think lamb, but with a rustle in the bushes. Think. . .jungle lamb."
Barbara says she is partial to Moroccan Leg of Goat, her stab at recreating a tangine she had in Marakesh years ago. She says her customers loved Corsican Goat Stew which has a "dreamy South-of-France/Northern Italian fusion wine sauce." It can also be made with beef, she says, "but it is better with goat."
Corsican Goat Stew-serves 6
2 lbs. Goat stew meat (chuck or shoulder)
½ lb. Onions, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 T Garlic, minced
½ cup Flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 sprig Fresh thyme
30 oz. Canned San Marzano tomatoes,
2 T Tomato paste
3T Olive oil
3 C Red wine
1 Bay leaf
1 T Flour
1 qt. Water
Season meat generously with salt and pepper. On medium high heat, brown meat in 2 T olive oil, remove meat and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add tomatoes (with juice) tomato paste, wine, parsley and thyme, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan until the alcohol has evaporated (about 10 minutes).
Return the meat and its juices to the pan. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 5 minutes. Add the water and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 1to 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender.
Remember, though, you can also try it with beef.
The closest place I've found to buy goat meat is at Barkaat Foods, 3810 Halsted, Chicago. But, next summer—when they have the 4-H livestock sale at your county fair—go on "goat day." Be there or be square.