A Note on Goat:
In elementary school, they told us that cattle farming destroyed the rain forest. Naturally, since all children love the "rain forest" (babies of the 80s: remember this?), I developed a major distrust of beef. Reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivores Dilemma didn't help. Nor do any of the current scares about E. coli. Of course many of the things we eat are bad for the animals/the environment/us, but since I have been wary of beef for so long, I keep searching for an alternative. When I moved to Irvine in 2006, I was intrigued by the goat meat at the Middle-Eastern grocery store. The mysterious cuts were prepackaged and poorly labeled, but I started cooking it anyway. Goat meat has since become very trendy (please humor me in thinking I was avant-garde) and perhaps it is the meat of our times: lean, affordable, and maybe less of a criminal, environmentally. If you haven't tried goat, I'd tell you it tastes like lamb but not as cute ... Henry Alford of the NYT describes it better than I could in his article.
Our attempt and a warning:
Even though I've braised and stewed and tossed chunks of goat meat into lentil soup, this was my maiden voyage into cooking goat ribs. Luckily, my little brother, freshly done with college (where he had been cultivating a hairdo inspired by Samson and The Fraggles), played my first mate in this endeavor. All would have gone well except for two things. First, a discrepancy between two thermometers made it hard to tell if the meat was well-done or still bleating. (I'm developing a theory that any unhappiness occurring within a 500 ft. radius interferes with thermometer accuracy.) Second, the hunk of goat that I bought had some meat attached to it that made separating the cooked ribs incredibly difficult. After several futile attempts with a carving knife, we all ended up donning aprons and, as a team, prying apart the bones with our bare hands. The meat was delicious, the sweet-tangy-crunchy coating even better, but any pretense of this being an elegant meal was demolished.
Oh well. If I were to do it again (or if you were to do it), I'd:
a) keep the recipe and keep the cut, but have the butcher help me trim it into a standard rack.
b) keep the cut, but braise it till it fell off the bone on its own.
c) keep the recipe, but sub in another cut or a rack of lamb. (After all, we were inspired by a lamb recipe from Bon Appetit.)
Nonetheless, my notoriously picky brother asked for seconds.
Nut-Crusted Goat with Pomegranate and Oranges
- 1/3 C pomegranate molasses
- 2 T golden raisins
- 2 small cloves of garlic
- 3 T chilled butter, in chunks
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 rack of goat (about 2- 2.5 lbs, TRIMMED)
- 3 T chopped almonds
- 3 T chopped pistachios
- 1/4 C panko Japanese breadcrumbs
- 1 orange, peeled and sliced
Preheat oven 400 ° F.
In a food processor, pulse garlic. Add in pomegranate molasses, raisins, and spices. Puree. Add in the butter and pulse until a coarse puree. Chill the mixture in the freezer for 10 min.
Line a rimmed baking tray with foil. Place goat, bone side down, on the tray. Rub with salt and pepper, then spread the chilled pomegranate mixture over. Mix the nuts and panko in a small bowl and sprinkle over the meat, gently pressing to make it stick. Arrange orange slices under the meat. Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 ° for medium rare to 160 ° for medium, about 30-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest before transferring to a work surface and cutting. Serve with oranges and drizzled with pan juices.