Much as I hate to brag, you did read it here first: Several years ago, in this very blog, I predicted that goat would become the trendy meat of the future.
At the time, goat was one of the most popular meats consumed in the world, but in the U.S. it was mostly confined to Jamaican restaurants in ethnic neighborhoods. In Europe, it had started to become chic, and was being served in some of the continent’s finest eateries—the Michelin-starred Moo Restaurant in Barcelona, located in the Hotel Omm, which serves baby goat roasted in honey and rosemary, and a pair of restaurants with two Michelin stars (Ristorante Duomo in Ragusa, Sicily, and Arnolfo in Tuscany).
The U.S. breakthrough is largely due to Bill Niman, who founded Niman Ranch and left several years ago to start his own operation called BN Ranch. “Everyone’s expectation is a gamy, goaty taste,” says Niman. “It’s very mild in flavor.” Time Out Chicago recently did a story on six leading eateries in the city that were serving it in one form or another. Goat has appeared on the menus of none other than Chez Panisse, along with toney restaurants in Silicon Valley. Chef Paul Canales of Olivieto in Oakland compares the meat to veal, both in terms of flavor and tenderness, and found it to be extremely popular when he put it on his menu. “Every night, the goat items were the top sellers,” says Canales. “It’s just spectacular.”
Goat meat is extremely lean—leaner and healthier, in fact, than chicken breast. For this reason, you’re more likely to find it in braised or stewed preparations that retain the maximum amount of moisture in the dish. Mexicans make a spicy goat stew called birria, which is usually served on major holidays such as Christmas or Easter. There are endless recipes for curried goat in Jamaica. The animal forms a significant part of the Italian food chain, and goat smothered in yoghurt is a popular dish in many Middle Eastern cultures. Want to try it for yourself? You can order online at elkusa.com or goatmeats.com, and get some recipes in the bargain.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot); for more information, go to amazon.com