I’m an animal lover anyway, but I harbor a special love for goats. Not sure why, but then again why not? The babies are just beyond adorable, and I love that obnoxious free spirit they all seem to inhabit in spades. As I heard a farmer put it once, “goats have… opinions.” There’s a little farm out on the North Fork of Long Island that allows you to stop and bottle feed their baby goats; one of the funniest and most fun things to do in the area. One of them ate my scarf.
So I suppose if you feel as I do, it would be strange to eat goat meat, and maybe that’s part of why I hadn’t tried it until recently. But, after reading up on it, I discovered that Americans are one of a few countries that don’t eat it, and that may not be a good thing. There are many compelling yet admittedly preachy reasons for carnivores to incorporate more goat and less cow into their diets (click here if you’re interested in finding out more). So, I figured let’s try it!
Okay, sold. It’s delicious and no, it doesn’t taste like chicken. It doesn’t taste like beef. Or lamb. It’s its own thing – it tastes like goat! And goat is extremely tasty – very earthy and with a slight almost sweetness that you don’t find in beef or lamb. Just delectable, really.
Recipe notes: you’re looking for around 3-4 pounds of goat meat. So if your goat meat includes bones, take that into account. The meat I found looked like garden variety stew meat, but each piece actually had some bones on it (it reminded me of pork neck or oxtails). I still don’t know what cut of meat it was (and apparently the store clerk didn’t either!). But basically, you’re slow cooking the meat until it’s very tender and can be shredded. So boneless stew meat chunks are fine, as is meat on the bone, as mine was. Enjoy!
Source: adapted from Michael Symon’s Carnivore by Michael Symon
1 cup white wine or sherry vinegar
1 cup plus 3 tbs olive oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbs cumin seeds, toasted
1 tbs coriander seeds, toasted
2 tsp ancho chile powder
¼ tsp chile de arbol powder (can sub in cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes)
2 tbs packed brown sugar
3-4 lbs. goat meat (see note above), cut into stew chunks
1-2 bottles Mexican beer
1 (15 oz.) can crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes
Corn tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, for serving
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Crumbled queso fresco, for serving
In a mixing bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the vinegar, 1 cup olive oil, garlic cloves, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, both chile powders, and brown sugar. Add the goat meat to a large (gallon-size) resealable plastic food bag, then carefully pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag, then squish it around to coat the meat thoroughly. Set the bag in a bowl or baking dish and stick it in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Season each piece with salt. Reserve the marinade. Put a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the remaining olive oil. Brown the meat, making sure not to crowd the pan, about 3-4 minutes per side. Work in batches if necessary.
Once all the meat is browned, add it all back into the pot, plus any accumulated pan juices. Now add the reserved marinade, 1 bottle of beer, and the tomatoes. The liquid should almost cover the goat meat. Add some or all of the remaining beer if necessary. Bring to a nice boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and cook around medium-low for about 2 hours, until the goat is very tender and can easily shred with a fork or your fingers. Depending on your cut of meat, this might take only 90 minutes or it might take as long as 3 hours. You want to keep this at a gentle simmer the entire time – enough to actually cook the meat but not hot enough so that it scorches. I checked on mine every 20-30 minutes and gave it a stir to keep it on track.
Once the meat is cooked, remove from the heat and let the goat meat cool in the pot. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones, shred it, and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Discard the bones and fat.
Strain the liquid into a smaller saucepan over low heat and warm it back up. I found it necessary to do 2 strains: once through a fine-mesh sieve to discard the solids, and then I ran it through a fat separator. While I’m not averse to a little animal fat, this particular goat netted a quite-ridiculous amount!
Spoon the warm sauce over the shredded meat. You probably won’t need all of it, you just want to coat and moisten the meat. Taste it here for seasoning and add more salt if desired.
Serve in the warm tortillas garnished with lime wedges, cilantro and queso fresco.