I grew up in the south of Spain in what some would call a hamlet nestled atop the Sierra de Bedar in the quaint province of Almeria. Every morning, at around 5:30 a.m., I would be awakened by the sound of steel bells clanking in unison, with an almost melodic symphony of hooves clapping the ground and the ring of bells filling the air. I would gaze out of my bedroom window and see an ocean of goats led by our neighboring shepherd and his faithful dogs. This was the soundtrack of my younger years. 

Goats are among the earliest domesticated animals. They were first herded almost 10,000 years ago. The domestication originated from a species of mountain goat in the Middle East. 

Prized for having less lactose and more nutrients than cow’s milk, goat’s milk can be turned into a simple, refreshing drink or an amazingly rich cheese with notes of grass. 

It is severely underrated in the West—with a minimal rise in popularity in the last 10 years. The meat flavor has an amazing earthiness coupled with hints of game and a relative sweetness, which can vary depending on the goat’s age. The lean meat contains fewer calories than beef, pork, and chicken. Goat meat is also jam-packed with iron and potassium.

Cooking goat meat is relatively simple, but understanding the final desired result will determine your preparation method. For grilling, I recommend brining it in milk, buttermilk, or yogurt to remove some of the strong, gamey flavor. If braising the meat, fill the pot with aromatics like bay leaf, thyme, cardamom, and cinnamon to complement the earthy flavors. Cooking goat is similar to cooking lamb in many aspects, yet the advantage of goat is its flexibility with flavor combinations, giving us yet another reason to include it in our daily meals. 

Braised goat with Jerusalem artichoke and tapioca crackling 

Serves 4

Prep time 2 hours for the goat meat

Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the goat

1 kg goat meat, assorted cuts
1 medium white onion
1 garlic bulb
1 tsp whole black pepper
2 pieces bay leaf
1 tbsp salt
1 large ripe tomato
½ bulb fresh fennel
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 fresh sage leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 

Procedure

  1. Dice onions and garlic then sauté until translucent in a pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add the goat meat. Sear on all sides until golden brown. Season well with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and cover with about 1.5 liters of water. Seal the pressure cooker and cook for 45 minutes. 
  3. Once finished, remove the pressure from the cooker and cool down before opening. Remove the meat and set aside for plating.
  4. Strain the remaining vegetables and keep the braising liquid. Put the stock in a saucepan and reduce by three fourths. Reserve for plating. 

Jerusalem artichoke puree

Ingredients

200 g fresh Jerusalem artichokes
100 g butter
100 ml heavy cream
Salt to taste

Procedure

  1. Peel the outer skin of the artichokes. Put the artichokes in a saucepot of water. 
  2. Bring the peeled artichokes to boil and season with salt. Cook until fork tender. 
  3. Once tender, remove the water and add butter. Allow the butter to brown before adding cream. Sauté for two minutes, then blend with a hand blender. 
  4. Pass through a fine sieve and reserve. 

Jerusalem artichoke chips

Ingredient

1 Jerusalem artichoke

Procedure

Using a mandolin slicer on its thinnest setting, slice the artichoke and cook in a deep fat fryer for one minute or until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. 

Tapioca chicharon

Ingredients

50 g tapioca
Water 

Procedure

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add tapioca pearls. Cook for 10 minutes or until almost transparent. Ideally, you should see a small white speck within each pearl. 
  2. Transfer the cooked pearls to a non-stick mat and place into a 50°C oven for two hours or until dehydrated. 
  3. Once dry, crack off sizable pieces and drop in hot oil (350°C) until crisp. 

Aioli

Ingredients

1 egg yolk
140 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Emulsify egg yolk and olive oil by trickling a steady stream of oil while whisking. Add the garlic and season well. Transfer to a piping bag and reserve for plating. 

Assembly

  1. Put three tablespoons of the reserved and reduced braising liquid in a deep dish. 
  2. Spread the Jerusalem artichoke puree around the plate with a teaspoon. 
  3. Arrange the goat pieces off center on the plate and top with the Jerusalem artichoke chips. 
  4. Garnish with fennel tops or any other fresh herbs available. 
  5. Place the tapioca chicharon on the side of the plate and garnish with aioli and fresh herbs. 

 

Originally published on F&B Report Vol. 13 No. 3