Photo by Hillary Ehlen
The U.S. has approximately three million meat producing goats and nearly 89 million beef producing cattle. I think it’s safe to assume that we have some room to grow when it comes to the consumption of goat meat. The rest of the world seems to have a great appreciation and appetite for goat but that’s not the case here in America.
Like lamb, goat may have a bad name simply because you’ve probably eaten an older animal with a very gamy taste or you just haven’t had it prepared properly. Goat is similar to lamb in that it tastes better when it comes from a younger animal. The name may also have something to do with the unpopular mindset. The word “goat” just doesn’t sound that appealing. Maybe it’s time for American goat producers to market the animal by a different name.
Regardless, I am a big fan of goat meat. It’s very similar to lamb. It’s actually quite affordable and it has great nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult to find a good source of goat meat in our area. I purchase straight from a wholesale game company but if you’re purchasing in ethnic shops locally, you may be limited in a variety of cuts.
If you haven’t had goat before, I’d suggest cooking it in a similar fashion to your favorite lamb or beef dish—maybe a goat stew, shepherd’s pie, pot pie or a spicy curry. It has a surprisingly mild and sweet taste with little to no gaminess.
In addition to the nutritional benefits, we’d actually be acting in a sustainable fashion by consuming more goat. We eat a good amount of goat cheese, but the male goats simply have little value in comparison to their female counterpart. The milk-producing goat serves a purpose for a long period of time while the male’s role is short lived. There simply is a surplus of male goats every year based on how much goat cheese we produce and how little goat meat we consume.
We Americans have had a mental food block for quite some time now. Goat is just one of the many casualties of our food culture. Hopefully, chefs will continue to push goat into the mainstream and change the perception of this underappreciated product.
Goat Shepherd’s Pie
- 3 lb. goat meat, boneless, leg or shoulder, 1/4 -1/2 inch cubes
- 2 oz. butter
- 1 ea. yellow onion, diced
- 1 ea. large carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 ea. ribs celery, diced
- 10 ea. whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp. thyme leaves, dry
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup beef broth
- ½ cup corn kernels
- ½ cup English peas
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 lb. mashed potatoes, room temperature or warmer
- 4 ea. egg yolk
In a heavy bottom roasting pan, melt butter and add goat meat. Cook over medium-high heat until goat meat is well caramelized. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic cloves and thyme. Continue to cook until vegetables are slightly tender. Add thyme leaves, tomato paste and flour, then incorporate. Quickly add the red wine and incorporate. Add the broth, corn and peas. Season with salt and pepper and place in a 325-degree oven with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil for approximately four hours, or until meat is fork tender.
Combine the egg yolks and mashed potatoes making sure yolks are well incorporated. Ladle the goat stew into a ramekin or cast iron serving vessel. Pipe or spoon the potatoes onto the stew making sure to cover the entire surface.
Place the serving vessels in a 350-degree oven (preferably convection) for approximately 15 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.