How to Tame a Goat
Goat meat doesn't differ much from the animal it comes from — both are tough, gamey and hard to tame. Goat meat, even from domesticated animals, has that characteristic "wild" flavor redolent of lamb, with an 11 out of 10 on the boldness scale. And the toughness? It's naturally tougher than beef chuck, pork shoulder and venison, combined. So how do you render goat meat tender and relieve it of its gamey taste? Marinating with milk or yogurt and using a slow cooker.
Slow-cooking goat meat for tenderness is a given; just about any tough cut of meat breaks down given enough time in a low, slow-cooking environment. As for dairy, hunters and chefs familiar with game have long used the acidic properties of milk to tenderize game meats and alleviate their gaminess. Dairy tenderizes meat and changes its taste through the enzyme action that lactic acid and beneficial bacteria (either Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Lactobacillus acidophilus) have on protein.
Total time: 20 hours, 15 minutes | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4
- 1 pound goat meat cut to 1 1/2-inch cubes, trimmed of fat and connective tissue
- 2 cups yogurt, milk or cultured buttermilk
- Spices and aromatics (optional; see Tip)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of stock or water
- Mix the milk or yogurt with the herbs and spices, if using, and add it to a food-storage container or large freezer bag. Add the goat meat, seal, and shake to coat.
- Marinate the goat meat for 12 to 24 hours. Scrape off the excess marinade and set the meat aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sear the goat meat until caramelized and golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer the goat meat to the slow cooker, and add about 1/2 cup of water or stock. Cover, and set the slow cooker to low.
- Cook the goat meat until tender, about 8 hours.
Always go with bold spices as opposed to subtle flavors when flavoring goat meat. Look to African, South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines if you need some inspiration when it comes to seasoning.
For a Southeast Indian-style flavor profile, marinate the goat meat in yogurt mixed with fresh cilantro, onions, garlic, chili peppers, lime juice, fresh ginger, kosher salt, black pepper and a spice mix, such as garam masala.
To turn this recipe into goat curry, use a curry as your spice, and add the tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, potatoes and red onions after 5 hours, and continue cooking for an additional 3 hours.