Recipe: Getting My Goat

This entry was going to be a recipe for goat and cardoon tagine.  I’m still going to include the recipe at the bottom of this post, because Andrew quite liked it, but I really, really didn’t.  Instead I’m going to talk about the strangeness of goat, and my attempts at cooking it.  (Apologies to my vegetarian readers – I promise the next recipe will be a vegetarian one with vegan options!  Indeed, I have already written said recipe, but I am currently more inspired by the goat… though it’s rather a negative sort of inspiration.)

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I decided to live dangerously and get some diced goat from the goat man at the market on Sunday.  I had the option of 1 kg of meat or alternatively 1 kg or 1 kg of meat, so I got 1 kg, with a certain wariness, because that is a *lot* of meat and I usually would start with 500 g, just in case.  I had a nice chat with the goat chappie about how to cook goat and he mentioned that it wants a lot of long, slow cooking – about 4 hours – with a fair bit of moisture because it tends to be tough.  I said I had plans for using my slow cooker, and he agreed that this would work well.

Goat is something I’ve never cooked before, unless you count the chorizo (which doesn’t really taste much like goat).  It also isn’t something I’ve eaten before, but my understanding was that the flavour is like a gamey kind of lamb, and the goat man agreed that this was about right.

With these guidelines, I decided a tagine might fit the bill – it’s a long, slow cooking thing with heaps of liquid, and is frequently made with lamb.  Perfect.  And then I found a recipe for beef tagine with artichoke stems, and if artichoke stems aren’t cardoons, they have to be pretty closely related.  It was clearly a sign!

So I adapted the tagine for the slow cooker, and let it go for 9 1/2 hours to see what happened.  And then I put it in the fridge overnight, and had a look at it in the morning.

The goat still looked pretty pink in places, which surprised and appalled me.  I mean, 9 1/2 hours!  I can slow-cook a whole chicken in 5 1/2!  Interestingly, the juices had become somewhat jellied, too.   I can never remember what that is a sign of, in terms with the meat, but it is something I associate with very flavoursome stock.  Most promising.  Though it really did smell quite intensely of something.  Presumably goat…

I was already beginning to suspect that I didn’t like goat…

After work, then, I took my stew out of the fridge, and put it on the stovetop to re-heat.  I wasn’t at all convinced the goat was properly cooked, so I basically set it going once I got home, and then let it keep simmering and reducing the liquid while I made cupcakes for work, paced around the house to get more steps, unwrapped my Oxfam box, and made a pasta bake to accompany the stew (on the grounds that at least the pasta bake would taste good).  So about two more hours, then.

It wasn’t pink any more, so I declared it cooked.  And I think it was.

Now for the part where I try to describe how it tasted, which is tricky, because I’m not sure I can.  It tasted *strong*, for one thing.  Strongly what, I can’t quite say.  Not like lamb or like beef or even like venison, but I think there were elements of all three meats in there, along with something else.  The texture was, at the same time, coming apart into strands on the fork and still quite chewy.  Not inviting, at least to my palate, though Andrew quite liked it.  I also found it a bit salty, which surprised me, because I didn’t actually add any salt to it at all, though there was a pinch of salt in the stock.  And somehow, it had leached all the flavour out of the cardoons, which I took as a personal insult!

All in all, not a success, in my book.  I think I cooked it reasonably well, or at least not actively badly, though I think it might have needed even longer to get soft and melty (does goat get melty?).  And, as I said, Andrew was quite happy with the flavour, so maybe the problem is just that I don’t like goat?

I’m not sure if I’ll  buy goat again.  I want to like it, truly I do, and I think that with the right flavours (the sweetness of caramelised eggplants and tangy yoghurt, for example), it could be rather nice.  But I’m not sure how to fix the texture.  And a kilo is an awful lot of meat if it turns out that I don’t like it then, either.

Anyway, just for the record, here’s what I did last night.  As I said, I can’t really recommend it, but Andrew liked it, so this may just be a matter of taste.

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2 red onions
6 cloves garlic
1 kg diced lamb
a big bunch of parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ras el hanout, if you can find it
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups lamb or vegetable stock, or cold water
500 g cardoons
500 g carrots (or more cardoons, but I didn’t have enough for the recipe), preferable baby ones and purple ones!

Now what will you do with it?

This is the easiest recipe in the world.  Well, OK, the easiest one that actually involves cooking.  I suppose ‘eat a slice of bread, butter and sprinkles optional’ is easier.  But I digress.  Slice the onions, and put in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Crush the garlic and sprinkle over the onions.

Place the cubed lamb on top of the onions and garlic, and sprinkle with the parsley, then the spices.  Pour over the oil, and arrange the sliced lemon over the top.  Pour over the stock, and season with salt and pepper.

Scrape down the sides of the cardoons to get rid of the leaves, and wash them.  Slice them into 2 inch lengths, put on top of the rest of the things in your slow cooker.  Peel and chop the carrots into thick slices.

Set your slow cooker to low for 9 1/2 hours.  Go to work.  Or about your business, whatever that may be.

When the cooker is done, check how tender the goat is, and whether it’s cooked (maybe my goat was just a bit old?).  You may need to simmer it on the stovetop for an hour or two to finish it, so maybe don’t plan this for a weeknight unless the 9 1/2 hours will be finished before you get home.

Serve with basmati rice, flat-bread or couscous.  And maybe tabouli, too.

Variations

This would, of course, work fine in a tagine on the stovetop – the goat needs about 4 hours to cook, and if you have the luxury of being at home, you could probably add the cardoons and carrots after about 2 1/2 hours.  If you have a kilo of cardoons, you could skip the carrots, or you could also replace the carrots with artichoke bottoms, but these would need to be added in the last half hour or so of cooking.

If that is way too much goat meat – and I think it is – you could use 500g of meat and 500 g of chickpeas, soaked overnight.  This might also alleviate the strong, strong goatiness of this meal, which I didn’t like.  And, of course, lamb or beef would both work here, though they would probably need much shorter cooking times.  (On the other hand, they would taste better.  Can you tell I’m not enthused about this recipe?  I really was when I started, though) 6-8 hours, maybe, for diced lamb or beef, or for chicken on the bone in 8 pieces.

I’m not going to attempt to make this vegetarian, because that’s a whole different dish, but note in passing that this is dairy, gluten, egg and nut-free.  And low-GI, if you serve it with basmati rice, or any low-GI grain.  Or with Claudia Roden’s lentils and rice, which is low GI and also tastes fabulous.  What do you have to lose?

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This time last year…

Eating Out: Little Deer Tracks

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