Beryl and I have learned a little bit about goat meat in the last couple years. First, we got some goat at the farmers market and we learned we absolutely loved goat meat: we found it had a slightly more complex flavor than beef, without being too “gamey” like mutton (a flavor we have both struggled with). Encouraged, we ordered goat curry at a restaurant and found that goat could be just as gamey and (in our opinions at the time) nasty as muttony lamb can be. Conflicted, we asked the friendly goat vendor (Terry from Quilceda Farms) at the Ballard market why his goat was delicious and other goat was gamey. From what I can recall (and blame us, not him, if we get this wrong), the flavor of goat is strongly affected both by the age of the goat and by their diet, especially in the weeks before they are slaughtered. An older goat who is finished entirely on grass will have a gamier flavor than a young goat that is finished on grain. All the goat we’ve bought from both Quilceda Farms as well as Toboton Creek Ranch has been delicious and complex without being overly gamey.
The following braise is a dish I made up to use a lovely piece of goat we got from Toboton Creek. I’m not sure exactly what cut it was, they called it “boneless rolled roast”, but I think it was shoulder. If it wasn’t, shoulder would certainly work fine here as well. One nice thing about the rolled roast we bought was the layers of fat rolled into the middle that kept the inside moist as it cooked.
There’s nothing particularly tricky about this recipe, but the secret is definitely in the veal stock in the sauce. A sauce made with veal stock and then reduced will have a texture like no other: perfectly gelatinous, flavorful but mild enough to let other flavors shine through, and rich. If you haven’t used veal stock in your home cooking, I implore you to give it a shot. Make some calls, find out where you can buy veal bones (you can buy them pretty cheap at the Ballard market from Quilceda Farms). Follow Michael Ruhlman’s recipe. I guarantee it will be one of those things that will change your outlook on things.
Braised Goat Shoulder
- 1½ lb goat
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimenton de la vera dulce)
- canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 large or 3 small carrots, diced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar, or white wine vinegar
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- 1½ cups veal stock
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1-2 hours before cooking, sprinkle the goat liberally with salt, pepper, and a light (but thorough) dusting of sweet (dulce) smoked paprika. Place on a plate in the fridge. Remove the goat from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking, dust lightly with flour and pat off the excess.
Preheat oven to 250˚F
Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high until hot. Brown the goat generously on all sides until very brown (never skimp on the browning) and remove from the pan.
Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots to the pan and sweat the vegetables on medium-low for about 5 minutes. Add white wine and sherry vinegar and cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and veal stock, return goat to pan, bring almost to a boil (but don’t let it boil.)
Cut out a circular piece of parchment paper just large enough to cover the meat and it’s cooking liquid and place it on the braise, put in the oven. You can also just put a lid loosely on the top, but the goal here is to prevent the braise from ever coming to a boil in the oven. If you cover it tightly with a lid, the internal temperature will easily get above boiling, but using parchment paper or keeping the pot partially uncovered will allow transfer of heat out of the pot and prevent it from coming to a boil. Still, it always helps to check and make sure the braise isn’t boiling from time to time. Turn every hour or so. Check after 3 hours… the goat may not (and probably will not) be tender, turn and return to the oven for another 30 to 90 minutes, checking every 45 minutes or so until very tender.
When tender, remove the meat from braise and cover with foil in a warm place. Strain the sauce into a sauce pan and reduce the sauce on medium high heat until just beginning to thicken. You should end up with roughly ½ cup of liquid. Add a pinch of salt to taste. When pleased with the consistency of the sauce, (it should be pretty thick and definitely coat the back of a spoon) remove from heat and whisk in the butter.
When ready to serve, slice the goat and fan the slices on a pre-warmed plate. Spoon the sauce over the meat.
Serves 3 to 4