The Girl, the Goat and the Pouilly-Fumé
New York City: where it's easier to get a whole goat than ground goat. I'd never cooked it before but became obsessed with sourcing it after the seventh butcher I called said he didn't carry it but could get me a carcass, no problem. The goat was my white whale.
Outside Alnoor Halal Meat Market
The lone mammal with an acceptable goatee was on my mind because I wanted to see if this Pouilly-Fumé paired as well with goat meat as it does with goat cheese, the Loire's famed export. I rejoiced when I called a place that said they had ground goat, only to discover that it could generously be described as sketchy. Thinking that I'd have more success with a halal butcher, I searched for one and found Alnoor Halal Meat Market – just a 10-minute bike ride from my apartment. And, the man on the phone said they had ground meat! Thank you, Brooklyn!
I hopped on my trusty steed, as did my fiancé, Brooklyn Beer Geek, and off we pedaled to the meat market. I'd never purchased from a halal butcher so I'm clearly no expert, but I have since learned a few things: 1) Blood is one of the forbidden substances to consume by Islamic dietary law. 2) Animals are first blessed and then slaughtered with a deep incision to the front of the throat. 3) They are hung upside down to bleed out so there are no blood clots within the veins of the meat.
When we arrived at Alnoor, I found out that it, like all others, did not carry ground goat. Apparently the butcher thought I was asking for sausage on the phone. There went my dreams of making this recipe. So I resigned myself to getting a few pounds of meat from the upper part of the leg, which the butcher kindly cut into manageable pieces with his band saw.
Getting my goat
Back at home, I couldn't find any goat recipes from the Loire – do locals just use them for their milk, and then allow both males and females to die of natural causes before sending them to the great Crottin in the sky? After flipping through cookbooks and crossing Jamaican goat curry off the potential list, fearing that the addition of any amount of Scotch Bonnet chili would make the dish too spicy for the wine to handle, I created a braised dish purely based on what I had in my refrigerator.
Surprisingly, it turned out really well and only mildly piquant from the pickled pepper. And because goat meat is leaner than beef or lamb, my concoction wasn't heavy at all, making it an acceptable meat braise for summer. In fact, the wine's acidity was just the thing to act as a palate cleanser. Oftentimes, pairing to me is more about how the food and wine interact with each other while only one is in the mouth. In this way, the Fouassier paired like a champ, picking up the pepper and olive, preparing my palate for another bite.
The ingredients I used are easily found beyond my refrigerator, except perhaps the pickled pepper. As a substitution, a dash of paprika and a smidge of apple cider vinegar might work. Purely because I want to up the number of goat recipes out there, here it is:
Braised Goat with Olives, Sundried-Tomatoes and Herbs
1 potato, cut into cubes
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 sliced shallot
2 lbs. goat meat
1 pickled long red chili
4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1/2 c. pitted Kalamata olives
3 sliced sundried tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. master stock
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Rinse the goat in cold water and drain. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
3. When water is boiling, place the goat meat in the pot to par boil the pieces. Take them out with a slotted spoon after 3-5 minutes when the bones are no longer red. (This is something Mom originally taught me for making stock; if you par-boil the meat and bones, discard the water and then add the rinsed pieces to a fresh pot of water, the resulting broth won't have scum at the top after the water come to a hard boil.)
Fried goat cheese salad
4. Drain the meat in a colander and wash them again in cold water. Rinse out the pot and return it to the stove. Turn the burner to high and add the olive oil.
5. When the olive oil is hot, add the garlic and shallots and brown them for a few minutes. Then add the goat meat and stir. Turn the heat to medium low and stir the pot every few minutes.
6. After about 10 minutes, add the olives, potato, pickled pepper, sundried tomato, master stock and herbs, plus a few cranks of cracked black pepper and a teaspoon of salt. You may not want to add salt until the dish is finished as the olives, sundried tomatoes and stock add a good amount of salinity.
7. Stir and bring the mix to a boil before turning the burner off, putting the lid on your pot and placing it on the middle rack of your oven. Set the timer for 1 hour and in the meantime, enjoy a glass of Pouilly-Fumé with a goat cheese salad!
8. After an hour, take the pot out of the oven and test the meat for tenderness. Although I had never cooked goat before, from eating it in restaurants or at taco trucks, I'd known it to be slightly leaner and more sinewy than other braising cuts of beef or lamb. So the texture I was looking for was one a few notches above fork-tender. You may need to cook the meat longer in the oven depending on the strength of your fork test or your teeth.
9. Take the pot out of the oven and let the meat rest in the covered pot for 5-10 minutes. Ladle the meat and vegetables into shallow bowl plates and serve with sliced crusty bread.