Monday, June 18, 2007

Goat for Father's Day

For Father's Day, my wife and daughter let me decide how to spend my day.

"Okay, can I cook a goat?"

After a pause -- to see whether I was joking -- my wife could tell I was sincere. "Sure, you can cook a goat. As long as you don't make me eat any."

Although I had never cooked goat meat, I knew that finding and slow cooking the goat would be a day-long project. Fortunately, I got lucky in finding the goat. My instincts took me to the Fiesta on I-10, which happened to have a Father's Day sale on cabrito. Just before noon, I bought their second-to-last leg for only $5 a pound. (Although Houston may not have the country's best restaurants, we do have the best supermarkets: Fiesta, Hong Kong Market, and Central Market.)

Goat benefits from a lot of spice and very slow cooking. So I coated the leg with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon ancho chile pepper, and a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne. I first cooked it in a gas grill, with mesquite chips, on low heat for two hours. I then wrapped it in aluminum foil and cooked it in an oven at 250 for 2 more hours.

When I pulled the goat leg from the oven, the tender meat fell right off the bone. It was neither dry nor greasy. The aroma of meat and spices filled the house.

"Yep," said my wife, "smells like goat."

I covered the meat with chopped cilantro and served it on corn tortillas with grilled jalapenos, grilled green onions, sour cream, and salsa. The result was as good as I have had in any restaurant. (Click on the photo for a close-up.)

Goat meat is strongly flavored, but this young cabrito was not too gamey. Still, the bold meat flavors benefitted from a combination with other strong flavors, like cilantro, jalapeno, and spices.

Goat goes well with beer, but I wanted to prove that it would pair with wine. The spicy ingredients were great with a dry white wine from Alsace - a Trimbach Pinot Gris, which was acidic to stand up to the strong flavors and had just enough sugar to cut the spice.

The New York Times says goat meat is the most widely consumed meat in the world and has the fastest growing sales of any meat in the U.S. It is no wonder that Fiesta sold out of their goat legs so early on Father's Day.

Although I grilled some chicken for my wife, she finally agreed to try the goat.

It was, she admitted, better than she expected.


Anonymous said...

One of my best friends from high school was Pakistani, and his father always used to make goat for us. Really spicy, and downright delicious, IMO. I have an aversion to "strange" meats, but goat is alright in my book.

"Bob" said...

Looks yummy. Two hrs of mesquite chips didn't get resin flavored? Maybe chips are milder than chunks. So, now that this version was such a success, think the wife will let you cook curried goat next time? Or if you need banana leaves for roasting yucatan style (or is that oaxacan? both?), let me know and I'll bring you some from the garden !!

anonymouseater said...

With the low heat, the mesquite chips did not create enough smoke to make it resin flavored.

For future goats, I expect that I will experiment grilling it with some wonderful Pakistani spices I bought recently at Penzy's. Or maybe a curry is in order?

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