Yes, I did type GOAT!
One of the interesting things about being a member of a cooking group is that sometimes you get your ass kicked way out of your food comfort zones. Most of us have these irrational notions of things we like and don't like . . . often formed without any factual evidence (which is why I suggest that they are irrational). I am sure that this is a remaining vestige of childhood. Of course, this is likely why a similar ability to have strong opinions without any factual basis revisits us in old age (or any age if one is a particularly rabid conservative).
Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that I was not chuffed at all about the prospect of eating goat. Goat was gross. I don't know how I knew that, I've never knowingly eaten goat, but it was gross nonetheless.
This week was Deborah's turn to select the recipe for the Sunday Slow Supper group to play with. She selected the category of slow cooker (although I braised in the oven instead) and her selection was a Moroccan themed recipe that she found on one of her favourite blogs: Figments. When Deborah first posted it I was convinced that she was off her rocker or had been indulging in her famous home-made hooch.
I quickly decided that I would make the recipe with lamb and continue along in my non-goat eating ways.
As I amassed the ingredients for the recipe (AKA hunted for preserved lemons) I changed my mind. The entire point of belonging to a food group is to expand boundaries (but hopefully NOT my waistline). So with that in mind I went off to search for goat.
I was advised on the Chowhound discussion boards that there was a butcher not far from my office where I could find goat. On Friday I took a walk, explored an area of the city I hadn't really hung out in very much, got some exercise, and found some goat.
Kensington Meats only had full goat legs and Rosa (while sweet) would not hear of cutting the shanks off of all of the legs and only selling me those. She looked at me as if I was on drugs - kept pointing the the shank end and saying 'no meat, no meat'. She wasn't far off in her evaluation. I ended up buying two legs for $ 33. Rosa cut the legs into chunks so I had 8 'shank' sized pieces.
When I explained to mom that I was making goat for dinner on Saturday it wasn't long before she was down for dinner. She was more willing to make that leap than I was. Suddenly this was a great adventure for us all.
Yesterday the house was full of the most wonderful smells. When I served the goat up we sort of sat and stared at it for a minute or two. It smelled wonderful but no one wanted to taste it. Finally Paul was brave. He survived so mom and I dug in.
It was far less 'gamy' than lamb can be. In fact, goat was downright delicious.
Who knew? Obviously the millions of folks around the planet for whom goat is a regular food choice were on to something. Why had they kept this such a secret?
Of course they hadn't. I have just been so stuck in my ways all of these years that I had been missing out. Bad Jerry. Bad!
I've had Moroccan food before and loved the spice combination. If you missed my Moroccan chicken pie around Christmas time you should check it out. The post is here. I think that I need to experiment a bit more with the cuisine of North-west Africa.
We served the goat tagine on a bed of couscous to which I added chopped dried apricot, green onions, and toasted pine nuts.
Thanks Deborah for pushing open my food boundaries a wee bit more . . .
Goat Tagine with Fennel and Olives
6 meaty goat shanks
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise
2 medium bulbs of fennel, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise
1 large pinch of saffron threads, lightly finger-crushed
6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground coriander seed
1 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground cumin
2 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground fennel seed
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup fresh tomato peeled and chopped, or good boxed/canned chopped tomatoes
4 cups of chicken stock or water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), stem and all, tied with butcher string
1/2 cup oil-cured olives
1 large preserved lemon, rinsed and quartered
Preheat oven to 375.
Salt and pepper the goat shanks. Brown them over medium-high heat in a large, deep casserole that will fit all the meat and go in the oven. Remove shanks from the pan.
Add olive oil, onions and half the fennel and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the saffron, garlic, ginger and all spices and cook another 5 minutes.
Add the honey and tomatoes and cook a few minutes.
Add stock and tuck shanks back into pot along with the cinnamon stick and tied cilantro.
Bring to a simmer.
Cover and braise in the oven until tender, about 3 hours. Check every so often; add more liquid if necessary.
Add olives, lemon and remaining fennel to the stew the last 15 minutes of cooking.
It is finished when the fennel is tender and the meat is buttery and falling off the bone.
Taste and season as necessary.