It all started with a new cookbook: Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. It got me thinking, why not host a caprine celebration? After all, it’s summer. And so far, it’s been goat oriented – from my reading list to my goat cheese CSA. So, I invited my closest friends over on Saturday to help me prepare an all goat blow-out.
“Goat is the world’s primary meat,” Mark Scarbrough writes in his introduction. So, off we went to meet some butchers. We saw kangaroo. Crocodile heads. And we met some cranky old goats. But no goat meat.
Four butcher shops later, we landed at Esposito's in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. At the counter, a kid with a buzz cut held up a bag of cubed, frozen meat. “This is all the goat we have,” he shrugged. And so I paid my three dollars and change per pound and dreamed of my pretty feast.
If I had been smart, I would have planned ahead and ordered fresh goat. Ah well. Call it my a caprine learning curve.
Next, our friend Matt sleuthed out some goat’s milk at Whole Foods. He called dibs on making goat paneer. Bless his heart. What other house guest comes to town and offers to curdle milk in your kitchen? I felt such adoration.
After a morning of Philly foraging, we rode home in a taxi, carrying bags of provisions.
We killed off a few pastries for lunch, then did some goat milk shots. Good stuff. Happy faces all around.
Then the paneer-making began in earnest. Matt boiled a gallon of goat’s milk, and when it started to smell cooked, he squeezed some limes into it. After curds formed, I watched him press out the whey, then form it into a cake.
By then the goat cubes were thawed, and full-on marination began, using a recipe from Goat, which includes a bevy of terrific-sounding recipes, from goat cheese danishes to chicken-fried goat with goat milk gravy.
Goat meat flies “under our radar,” Scarbrough writes in his cookbook. “It’s got an earthiness that stands up well in deep braises and sophisticated stews – and even on the grill.” Because goat isn't popular in the U.S. (yet), it’s pristine as far as meat goes. “There are no hormones approved for goat production,” according to Scarbrough, “and few antibiotics to boot.”
Plus, goat is much lower in fat than any other meat -- compare 5.2 grams of fat per 6 oz. serving of goat to 12.6 grams in chicken, 15.8 in beef, 16.4 in pork, and 5.8 in lamb. Goat meat is lower in cholesterol, too. Humdinger.
Course #1: We started the night with an award-winning puck of Montchevre goat Brie from Belmont, WI. It was personally lugged home in ma suitcase from Madison, and I was glad to let the cheese state represent. This Mini Cabrie came highly recommended by Stuart Mammel, the cheesemonger at Willy Street Co-op. Hat tip, please.
For our beverage service, Monsieur Fromage – once a bartender – prepared backyard mint mojitos.
Course #2: Biryani with marinated goat paneer in yogurt sauce. Astonishingly good, though not very pretty (hence, no photos). Even the dog wimpered. The paneer was creamy and dense, not rubbery. I liked that Matt used limes in his paneer, rather than lemon juice. It gave the cheese a delicate, floral quality.
Course #3: Goat skewers with herb sauce and grilled vegetables. Friends, I take full blame for buying lousy goat meat. Most of it was tough as a naugahyde banquette, but very flavorful. Next time, I will pre-order goat or butcher the billy myself. The few tender bits were wonderful, and the marinade was so good -- packed with scallions, cilantro, and cardamom -- that we reserved some as a bread dip.
Now the Good News
Just as I was sitting down to write about this post, I saw an ad for an all-goat feast with, would you believe, the authors of this cookbook? The details are below. I, for one, am going. If you live in the Philadelphia area, please join me. I am told there will be goat gnocchi, roasted goat, and house-made aged goat cheese. Oh, I swoon.
If you live elsewhere, check out the authors' food blog. Their passion for goat is infectious, and I have a feeling they're at the forefront of a whole new meat wave.
Wed., June 22, $45/person
306 Market St., Philadelphia