Friday, August 11, 2006

Goat: it's what's for dinner

The previous goat post is here

I finally broke down and bought the goat on Friday. The short review: it's pretty good-juicy, tender and mild. Lamb has a stronger flavor. However, it has a very low yield--4 pounds of meat from a 12 pound goat. That means the meat cost just over $10 per pound, which is on a par with steak. Cabrito joins crab and crawdads on the list of things that are more expensive and bothersome as steak, but less good. I probably won't make it again, but it was fun to try.

Here's the dialogue from the butcher shop:
"I want to buy a goat, please."
"We can't cut it up for you. The guys who cut them up went to lunch, and won't be back for an hour."
"Well, how big are these goats?"
"Ten or twelve pounds."
"OK, then. I'll take one whole goat."
"Are you sure?"
"OK, then."

So they went back, and rummaged around, or whatever they do back there, and emerged five minutes later with a 12 pound whole goat. "Whole" in this sense doesn't mean "all the major cuts" or "a single big piece." "Whole" means all of the goat, from toes to nose. All they left behind were the innards and the skin. Even for me, it was a bit disconcerting. They put it in a plastic bag, and put that in a box, and charged me forty-one bucks.

I took my goat home and got it ready to cook. I took off the head, because it was too gross. I was left with something that looked like this:

(Trust me on this one. I've been personally involved in processing meat animals since I was six or seven. I've worked in a chicken-meat research lab. If I think a food product looks gross, it really is gross.)

Next, I dry-rubbed the goat with some cheapo "BBQ Spice Rub" I had laying around. It's mostly salt, with some sugar, and paprika for color, but it tastes OK. Then I stashed the goat in a trash bag, so L wouldn't come home and see him in all his lovely, whole-animal glory, and put him in the fridge.

On Saturday, I pulled him out of the fridge, and was confronted with a dilemma. My smoker is about a foot across. Mr. Goat was about eighteen inches long, with four long legs to contend with. No way that would work, so I pulled out the gas grill instead. I wanted to cook him with indirect heat, but that didn't quite work--he was so long that, while most of him was above the burner I had off, part of him was directly over the flames. I wound up putting some foil over that part of the grill, to moderate the heat a little, and moving him every half hour so no one part would get overdone.

I kept him on the grill for just over three hours. Fortunately, at about hour two, I figured out how to get the major muscles off the direct heat. I stood him up on all fours in the grill, closed the hood, and let him finish that way. After an hour of standing on the grill, he was ready, and all the big muscles registered 145 degrees. I pulled him in, wrapped him in foil, and let him rest for a half hour or so.

I went ahead and sliced all the meat up on the spot, and wound up with what you see at the top of the post.

As I said before, my twelve-pound goat yielded four pounds of meat, but it's mighty tasty. It's tender and juicy, despite my less-than-ideal cooking method. The flavor is mild--not at all like lamb (which surprises me a little), and not much like anything else, either. Goat tastes like goat, but it's not what you would expect. It's much better.

I wish I could offer a recipe here, because it would immediately be the best recipe for cabrito on the internet, but I really wouldn't recommend cooking a whole goat by standing it up on a too-small gas grill. If any of you try something that works better, feel free to comment or e-mail.


Dr. Bubba said...

Good job Aaron.

To be honest. Try buying a live goat...kid or yearlying and slaughter and clean it yourself. I think it will be less gross. I find them easier and cleaner than cleaning and butchering a deer. April says you
have plenty of experience doing it and I would say goat takes alot less time than most animals I have had to deal with.

I am strange...I do not care for lamb. Eating lamb in almost any form I can still smell the snotnosed critter even in the taste. NZ really closed that door for me. Even though NZ lamb is suppose to be great and some roasts were...most of it was not so good to me. Lambburgers were the worst form of hamburger I have ever had...turkey burgers are even better and that is saying something for me.

But I love goat....the taste and tenderness. I agree the taste and smell is less much so to me I do not notice. I was raised on goat but not lamb though we raised more sheep.

So I did not see any ribs on that plate? I know there is not much meat there but the rib is my favorite part. What meat is on them is very good. I am not a rib man either.

Sounds like you did a great job. We basically quartered them and took the ribs off and got rid of the rest unless someone was wanting to make tamales then the rest was picked to get the meat.

I am living thru you on this. I should get off my duff and get a goat and have it at it. They have those BBQ smokers here that run on wood and is big enough for a goat. I should get one.

Thanks for sharing.

Aaron said...

I've read somewhere or other that goats taste a lot stronger once they're weaned and start eating green stuff.

Lamb is stronger, but I like it. You have to trim all the fat, though, because that's where the really strong flavor is.

As for working with a whole goat--I don't think L would like that at all. Just cooking a goat was strong enough for her.

And I did carve the meat off the's in that pile somewhere. You just can't tell after the goat has been parted out.

Beulah Bible said...

Aaron, congratulations on the goat experiment. Glenn will take 50 kids to Fowler, CO, this Saturday. They haven't been weaned but straight off the nanny. They will not get nearly the price that should be had if the dressed goat gets that price. This May/June's "crop" of kids has been a good one, averaging more than 2 per nanny.
Kelly Butz is visiting me and she will go with Glenn and they will watch the auction for a time for her to see.
Didn't read the next story and perhaps you are telling about your turkeys. Will check that out. Gigi