Made with premium wild game meat harvested from the Marlborough wilderness, this recipe for Goat cooked with Yoghurt, Cream and Aromatic Spices is a delicious way to expand your culinary horizons.
BY JOHN CORBETT. Although the goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is one of the most ancient of domesticated animals, its meat is not widely eaten in the Western world. The celebrated goat’s milk cheeses (chèvre) of France are of course something else again, but as the mainstay of a meal goat is typically a dish of the Mediterranean lands and the Middle East. In many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America it is a staple; an estimated 70 per cent of the world’s population, in fact, dines on goat.
This is a testament to their good taste because goat is a lean and savoury meat with a flavour similar to that of lamb, and as versatile in cooking as any red meat. And just as Europeans traditionally enjoy pork from “nose to tail”, so do many other cultures celebrate all the edible parts of the goat.
New Zealand has a history with goats that is as old as its connections to the European world. Being hardy travellers and good sailors, goats were routinely carried on board ships of exploration as a source of fresh milk and meat. Captain Cook took an unnamed nanny goat around the world on two of his great voyages; at the end of her maritime career she was admitted as a pensioner to the Greenwich Hospital for retired sailors and given a silver collar inscribed by Dr Samuel Johnson.
Liberated on our shores in the late eighteenth century as a food resource for the shipwrecked, and later for sealers and whalers, goats flourished to the extent that by the 1970s large-scale culling was needed. Some wild herds still remain and are carefully sourced by Moreish, a Palmerston North-based online (and bricks-and-mortar) boutique butchery specialising in free-range and organic meats and premium wild game such as rabbit, venison and goat.
When the opportunity came to expand my culinary horizons by tasting and writing about Moreish’s products I pounced, ordering Diced Wild Goat, Denver Leg Venison Steak and a whole fully prepared Wild Rabbit. All of the wild animals supplied by Moreish are humanely trapped, caught or shot in the wilderness of the Marlborough region and are processed through the MPI-approved facilities of Premium Game Ltd in Blenheim.
GPS tracking ensures all animals come from areas free of pest control methods such as 1080 poison, and provides traceability. The quality of the tender young wild goat meat that I enjoyed shone through, and you will also read about my experiences with Moreish’s wild rabbit and venison in forthcoming blogs.
The online ordering process was easy and my products arrived by trackable courier in a sturdy recyclable chiller carton. (A thoughtful free courier return service is also available for the reusable Thermogard icepacks that keep the vacuum-packed products in perfect condition.)
Finding a recipe that would do justice to the quality of the wild meat was a little harder, but after some casting about I found an excellent dish by the Australian chef Stefano de Pieri which also includes an interesting piece of food history.
The recipe is unusual in that it uses the flavours of ginger, cardamom and coriander that typically belong to Indian cuisines. De Pieri explains in a video accompanying the recipe (see the link below) that northern Italian cooking largely abandoned Asiatic flavours after the Middle Ages, although they remain in the Arab-influenced cuisines of Southern Italy and Sicily.
Making this dish is an aromatic pleasure – as it cooks, the scents of ginger and cardamom gently perfume your kitchen. Eating it is also a satisfying textural experience: the creaminess of the sauce and the softness of the potatoes are offset by the subtle crunch of the almonds and the tender meat of the young wild goat. The recipe also has the virtue of simplicity, being made in a single pot or casserole on the stovetop with no frying, poaching or baking. It also works very well with beef and lamb.
For more information about premium wild game and free-range and organic meats from Moreish, go to: www.moreish.co.nz
Goat cooked with Yoghurt, Cream and Aromatic Spices
Adapted from a recipe by Stefano de Pieri in Stefano’s Cooking Paradiso.
Video available at: http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/11173/goat-curry
1kg diced lean goat
1 cup plain yoghurt
2 Tbsp flaked or slivered white almonds
2 medium-size brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 heaped Tbsp of chopped fresh ginger
Generous pinch of ground coriander
Generous pinch of ground cardamom
Generous pinch of salt
Generous pinch of pepper
4 potatoes, quartered
Sprigs of fresh coriander for garnish.
Place the yoghurt and almond flakes in a blender. (I used a large bowl and my trusty Sunbeam stick blender instead and it worked just fine.) Add the chopped onion and chopped ginger. Blend the ingredients until creamy.
Pour the mixture into a medium-size pot or casserole.
Add the diced lean goat, salt and pepper, coriander and cardamom.
Pour 350 ml of cream over the mixture. Stir to combine.
Place the pot on the stove and cover with a lid.
Cook on a very low heat for about one and a half to one and three-quarter hours, stirring occasionally.
Halfway through the cooking (about 45-50 minutes), add the potatoes.
Serve garnished with fresh coriander leaves.
Photos: John Corbett