The first time I tried to cook with goat, it was HORRIBLE!!! I’d never prepared goat until a few weeks ago when I fearlessly listed it as the entree for our Polynesian meal. As our entree, I not only had to figure out how to make it, I had to make it awesome.
When my first attempt (braised goat in coconut and rum) came out of the oven, I was staring at lumps of grey meat bathed in a curdled gray sauce. This was definitely NOT awesome! Tasting it only made it worse. I hate throwing food away, but that was the only place fit for this dish! I didn’t take a picture because I was too stressed out and embarrassed, but I wish I would have because it was DISGUSTING!
I knew goat was a lean meat which could be tough, so it would be best to slow cook it with a liquid to help it keep moist, which was the impetus of my first attempt. For an island effect, I chose rum and coconut milk. Well, I’m still not sure what part of the body those cuts came from, but they were tough grisly and grotesque. The rum was not acidic enough to help tenderize the meat and coconut milk, upon continuous cooking, apparently curdles. I guess goat has a tendency of turning gray when cooked and the white cooking sauce, surely didn’t help its color. It looked horrible and tasted disgusting. This recipe SUCKED! I was a bit stressed out.
It seemed the obstacles I needed to work around for this recipe was:
- keeping the meat tender and avoiding tough chewy meat
- avoiding the gray color which is unappetizing!
To tackle the main problem of tough meat, I decided I needed was a good cut from a real butcher. Although I’d never done one before, not even with lamb, a leg roast would probably be the best way to go. I found a great spot in the warehousing district and picked up a fresh leg of young goat which would be more tender with a milder taste then an older goat. An average leg roast from a young goat (leg in) weighs about 4-5 lbs.
After my last fiasco, I wasn’t taking any chances with texture problems, so I decided to marinate it overnight AND apply a dry rub for a couple of hours before cooking to ensure a moist tender roast. I had previously marinated my first attempt in rum only, which I figured wouldn’t be enough. I decided to add fresh lime juice which would pump up the acidity, and I added olive oil, to help infuse some fat into the lean goat meat.
But now color. Gray meat just looks gross. If I was doing a red wine marinade that would give it color, but I wanted to stick with tropical flavors (rum, lime etc). I started thinking of other things I could use for color, and I finally thought of one of nature’s most powerful natural dyes: beets! Although not authentic to Polynesia, I added beets to the marinade to give this meat some color.
It worked. The morning after its marination, I found what looked like a tandoori leg of goat! Even more so, it was purple! Well, I thought the meat would definitely not be gray. Ha!
I had also been instructed by my Aunt to cut away the thick white fat around the edges of the leg and reserve them. I now pulled them out of the fridge. With my paring knife, I cut slits an inch or so into the flesh of the roast and inserted the fatty deposits, which we can be all fancy and refer to as “lardoons”. I also stuffed some garlic cloves and ginger into the pockets with the lardoons to infuse a bit of awesome. I finished by applying my dry rub, which used papaya seeds as a binder. I wrapped the pup up and put in the fridge, to chill for 3 hours or so.
To trap all the juices which I had been obsessing about infusing into the meat, I decided to sere the roast first. You can start the roast in the oven at a really high heat like 450 and turn down to 300. But I wasn’t sure that was enough. I wanted to make sure this meat SEARED.
SO Ira and I set up our small BBQ with a huge pile of coals red HOT! By starting the roast off on the BBQ, not only were we able to sear it, but also infuse a bit of smokey flavor and give the surface of the roast a nice blackened look. I gave each side 5-10 minutes on the grill (15-20 min. total).
After the grill, I inserted the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Putting my blackened purple leg roast back into a roaster pan over some chopped onions to keep it from burning to the bottom, I quickly got it into the oven at about 325 to finish cooking. I spooned some of the marinade over the top for good measure. At this point, I just waited with fingers tightly crossed until the thermometer registered 130.
Roasts will continue to cook after its taken out of the oven, so by removing it at 130, I could ensure to end up at my preferred temp of a medium rare 140 degrees. I thought the roast would take a few hours as did the recipes I had read online, so I was a bit surprised when I hit 130 after only 90 minutes. I guess the BBQ really put a jump start on the cooking. I took the roast out of the oven, and “tented” it by loosely covering it up with aluminum foil to rest, about 10-20 minutes.
When I finally carved into the roast, I was jumping for joy. It was the most moist, delicious meat I had ever seen and tasted. The beautiful mild flavor was not overpowered by the marinade. Although purple on the outside, the meat had a delicate pinkish color which only added to its appeal. Thank you beets! A sigh of relief, I had my entree recipe figured out.
It was a close gross call, but the dish we ended up with was filled with absolute goaty awesomeness!