This is not a post for those with a weak stomach who believe that the lovely meat that graces their dinner table each night comes from the freezer section in the supermaket and no animals were harmed in the process.
Whether you're into goat or not, bottom line is this, any good cook worth his or her salt knows that the secret to excellent meat in your excellent dinners is making friends with your local butcher. If all you know are pre-packaged cuts of meat on the freezer section of your pristine supermarket, think again.
Begin with 'select' meat and chances are you are half way there to a 'select' dinner. Ask around the farmer's markets and find a local butcher -it's what worked for my grandmother, your grandmother and it will work for us!
Though I am not about to go all Gordon Ramsay on you and show you how to butcher a piglet, duck or goat for that matter, EXIT NOW if you are going to go all eww.... at the sight of a slab of meat on a hook - like this one!
Why am I writing this post?
Let me be perfectly honest, I am writing this post for that one person one in a million who has a genuine desire to select a perfect cut of goat meat and doesn't know how. And for my sons who I hope when they grow up will read this golden nugget of a post because the knowledge herein has been passed down from generation to generation, from father to son on my Dad's side.
This tradition broke with me being a girl and all and so my Dad now passed it down to me - who passes it down to the blog with a hope that decades from now my 30 some year old sons will learn just like their ancestors, how to select a perfect cut of goat meat.
Since Mum and Dad are in town, what better time to post this than now! When I can learn first hand from the Master - My Dad, the same way he learned from my Grandfather. And I have an ulterior motive too - that means Dad is going to be cooking his specialties which is always a momentous occasion in our home. So let's get started -
For goat meat aficionados, these facts should be common knowledge-
In many ways, lamb is just plain ole' inferior in comparison to it's leaner and non-smellier cousin - the goat. So much so that it is the red meat of choice all over India and especially sort out for North Indian dishes.
If it's goat it's gotta be spring. Old goat, is bad goat. If the meat is red - so red that you think it's beef, then that's the stuff you should run away from.
If on an unfortunate occasion you purchased said red, old piece of goat meat and brought it home, expect to pour several teaspoons of meat tenderizer, soda-bicarbonate in a futile attempt to turn tannin leather into edible meat. Nine times out of ten, after a couple of hours of stove cooking you will finally give up or resort to a pressure cooker.
By this point you will be blowing off as much steam as your cooker!
The ideal goat
- Buy meat from a spring goat
- Best cuts of meat are the front legs, shoulder and back.
- Meat from the hind legs (raan) is meatier but in our family is stayed away from because of the fibrous nature and tendency of the meat to stick between the teeth.
- The meat should be a pale pink.
- The meat should be without any strong smell.
Pretty simple aye?
How to select a 'select' cut of Goat Meat?
- Find a butcher that is selling whole spring goat. Here in the US, the best bet is middle eastern or Pakistani stores. You'll have to pick up the phone and call around.
- Ask to go into the freezer and narrow down a few slabs of goat meat that look 'pink' and not red.
- Ask the butcher to make a small cut at the joint between the bones in the front leg. Note - He'll probably look at you like you're one beer short of a six pack but put on a straight face and forge ahead.
For this - the joint is sky blue/purple, the meat is fresh and if ideal quality.
I should have written this ages ago before I even started this blog but I am glad I did so now. There is some peace for me in the fact that I have documented our family tradition and my son's have no excuse (hear me?) to claim ignorance.
I also can't wait for Dad to cook up his signature Yakhani Pulao now that we have such splendid meat. That, is one not to be missed post and should be coming up soon.
So now that all the secrets of goat have been unveiled to you, what will you cook up?