By Isaac Delamatre, Food Service Coordinator
This is from a series about cooking goat. This recipe looks similar to others posted, but there are important variations in technique and ingredients.
- 2 sweet potatoes cut in large pieces
- 1 onion, quartered
- 5 whole cloves garlic
- 3 tsp. olive oil or other high-temperature oil
- 1 leg or shoulder of goat, bone in, cut to fit the pan
- 2 tsp. salt
- ¼ cup house chili powder (or store bought)
- 2 cup chicken stock
- 2 tsp. red vinegar
- 1 can (14 oz.) tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- This is a braised dish, so the secret really is in the length of cooking time with an appropriate amount of liquid. Honing the braising technique—and many other techniques—will be as important, if not more important, than following any actual recipe.
- The use of acid as a seasoning really acts to stimulate your taste receptors and help get the full flavor of the dish. Notice the elements represented: the goat is very rich and has a gamey flavor—the bones in the meat, the chicken stock, chilies, tomatoes, and onions are all strong, savory components. Umami is well represented. The chilies also add spice and the sweet potatoes add a sweeter element. There will be a subtle acidic note that your mouth will pick up on even if you cannot put your finger on it. Balancing any dish in this way, working through many tastes to create a cyclical approach to cuisine, is a good recipe for success.
- Another secret is to have all your ingredients completely prepped before you begin actually cooking. This concept is called mise en place in professional kitchens. Literally it means “everything in its place,” but it takes on a greater meaning and becomes more a way of life and an approach to conducting business. The theory (and religion to some) of mise en place says that you should have all ingredients measured, cut, and portioned just how you will use them. All the equipment you will need should be on hand. You should have read through your procedure twice before you start cooking. Your station (kitchen) should be clean and organized. Cooking really becomes more fun this way. Good luck.
- Place oil inside of a large pan (big enough to fit the cut of meat). Place it on high heat and heat the oil.
- Season the meat with the salt.
- When the oil is nice and hot (it will appear to shimmer when the pan is moved), place the meat into the pan and sear it on all sides until well browned. Pull the meat out and add all the veggies. Sauté briefly and deglaze the pan with the vinegar.
- Add the meat back into the pan along with the chili powder, tomatoes, and chicken stock.
- Cover the pan tightly! We are trying to combine multiple cooking methods, and the following step is close to steaming, which requires that all your moisture is not lost out of the sides of your pan. (I use foil and a lid or foil with a professional-grade film wrap to get a really tight seal.)
- Toss this in the oven for three (or so) hours at low heat (275–325°F).
- When it comes out of the oven, the bones should easily slip away from the meat and the meat should shred easily. If the meat is tough and the bones won’t budge, it needs to cook longer. You may have to add more cooking liquid, and if it looks like air has gotten in there and started to dry out the meat, try turning the meat, adding liquid, and cooking it longer.
- When the dish is fully cooked, the meat should fall off the bone, and the vegetables should be mushy and ready to become the base for the sauce along with the stock, tomatoes, and meat juices. (I discard the bones and pull the meat.)
- This dish makes wonderful taco meat, so serve it with warm corn tortillas, limes, cilantro, sour cream, and horchata or a cold cerveza.