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The Not-So-New Red Meat
It’s no secret the cost of food is going up. While the price increase is not exclusive to proteins, meat and fish have certainly experienced a big jump. But there may be a tasty, and surprising, protein alternative.
I’m not talking about tempeh, beans or soy…I’m talking about goat meat.
Goat has historically been a dietary staple in cultures around the world. Though it is not commonplace in North America and North Europe, it became the most widely consumed red meat as of 2010 – enjoyed by more than 70 percent of the world’s population.
Goat is a welcome site at the dinner table during Easter time in parts of Italy and Greece, and cabrito (baby goat) is considered a specialty in Latin cuisines. In Africa, goat is consumed because it has the ability to live off of next to nothing. Goat also appears as a culinary staple in African, Middle Eastern, Mexican and Caribbean dishes to name a few.
A well kept secret
Why hasn’t widespread consumption of goat meat reached the U.S.? Well in certain niche markets throughout the country it has become very popular and consumption has been growing. In the desert Southwest we’ve seen more of a movement towards goat meat by local chefs. Why? It could be influenced by our neighbors to the south as goat meat is often used in Mexican cuisine and many are bringing their traditions to Arizona. Today, local chefs are exploring more ways to use this delicious and well-priced meat.
The flavor is similar to lamb, but has a clean, tender aspect reminiscent of veal. The best way to describe it.. is well…to try it yourself. There’s little harm in giving goat a go. At $3 to $4 per pound, the barrier to entry is very low. Most ethnic food markets such as Mexican, Middle Eastern, and African markets carry the meat. Baiz Marketplace and Zam Zam World Foods are a couple Phoenix grocers that carry goat meat.
Making a case for goat
Cost and delicious flavor aside, there are nutritional benefits to consuming the lean red meat. Goat meat is actually higher in protein, than beef, and lower in fat content than chicken.
So now that you’re sold on the idea, how do you actually cook it?
Because of the low fat content of goat meat it can lose moisture fast, and toughen when cooking. The best way to prepare goat is cook it slowly, and with moisture.
Goat meat, contrary to our American way, is a practice in patience. Therefore, it may come as little surprise that most traditional goat recipes involve braising, stewing, and simmering the meat until it is fall-off-the bone tender. Goat has an adaptation to tomato-based dishes and rich-roasty spices. Spicy stews, street tacos, goat masala, curried goat, or goat teamed with garlic and white wine, all make for delicious, cold-weather comfort foods.
My suggestion, pick a region known for goat consumption, choose a recipe that sounds appealing to you and enjoy the adventure! Cheers, and happy eating.