Eat more goat

Indonesian fiery goat rendang. Picture: LANCE SEETO

They say variety is the spice of life, and that analogy has never been so important during this period of continued doom and gloom in our second year of battling the COVID pandemic.

New and exotic foods can temporarily transport us away from our woes but one Facebook user took this concept to new heights this week when he posted a photo of something new he’d just cooked at home – horse! At first I was shocked.

Do people really eat horse in Fiji? Before you think he went and chopped a hindquarter off from this majestic animal, I’m told the poor animal had been involved in an accident and rather than waste the lean meat, he decided to give it a try.

Horse is still a delicacy in many parts of the world, and this person decided to try it fried and grilled.

Now I’m certainly not advocating eating horses but here we are five weeks into a nationwide shutdown and food security has become one of the top concerns across the country.

Not everyone can afford chicken or lamb, but if this current economic situation doesn’t improve, then don’t be surprised if others get creative and start eating any animal that passes by their house – including more goat.

I still fail to understand why we must wait for weddings or Christmas to enjoy this very lean red meat.

I mean its in abundance, and surely the goat farmers need the money right now.

Every Christmas season I love watching goat farmers selling their herd by the roadside and at markets. To an outsider this may look strange, but goat to a local is more gourmet than lamb or beef – it is the red meat of choice for festivities.

Imported lamb has become so expensive that chicken chops, whole chickens sliced vertically, have now replaced lamb chops for most families.

And many do not eat beef for religious reasons.

But goat is a universal red meat for all of us carnivores that also offers so many nutritional benefits that we should be eating goat all year round.

When it comes to fat, goat meat is leaner than other meats. It also has far lesser calories, which means it is ideal for those trying to stick to a diet.

Running and climbing up mountainous terrain turn goats into marathon athletes that keeps their muscles lean and blood pumping.

Low in calories, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than traditional meats, goat meat has higher levels of iron when compared to a similar serving size of beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

And because goats primarily live on a diet of grass and plants, their meat is packed with proteins and essential vitamins including B, good for fat burning, and B12 for healthy skin.

For many, the gateway to goat meat is an Indian curry, chopped into bite-sized pieces on the bone.

Mopping the meat and gravy in a warmed roti, the stew’s is often combined with a tangy tamarind chutney and sprinkling of red bongo chillies.

Its rich flavour comes from cooking the meat on the bone for many hours, often in a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time.

And whilst I do love a really good goat curry, this lean meat can be enjoyed in so many other ways. Goat stews, curries and soups are guaranteed crowd-pleasers in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Goat is also widely enjoyed slow roasted, barbecued or minced for burgers and other dishes.

In cultures where goat meat is considered a delicacy, it is often the meat of choice for special celebrations.

To mark Dashain in Nepal, a feast of dishes is prepared using every edible part of the goat.

It is also served to celebrate Easter in parts of Italy, Greece and Portugal.

As a lean meat, goat is best suited to slow cooking at low temperatures. Don’t be tempted to serve it medium rare like lamb.

Remember, goats are built for a life of tracking up and down hills, so their muscular meat is best cooked gently to tenderise the meat and bring out its full flavour.

To enjoy goat in new ways, don’t chop it up into tiny pieces.

Pulling the meat off the bone and sucking the marrow is more enjoyable when the bones are a bit bigger and not shattered.

Also learn to chop the goat into its major parts so you can enjoy goat as you would lamb including legs, shoulder, ribs, neck and chops.

If you want to enjoy a Mediterranean feast at home, rub some herbs and spices into a goat leg or shoulder and place in a lidded pot with some onions and white wine.

Cook in a slow oven for 3—7 hours, depending on the size of your joint, pan and oven temperature.

Add potatoes and carrots during cooking for a complete meal.

You could even wrap the goat with the same ingredients and place it into a lovo for 1-2 hours.

Goat chops are also tasty and tender when slow cooked in tangy sauces or chutney.

They can be marinated and grilled as well for quicker meals but care must be taken to prevent the meat becoming
dry or tough.

Brush them with lots of ghee or herbed oils to help retain their moistness.

Goat is always used for keema in India, but lamb or mutton work well as substitutes.

A keema curry also provides the opportunity to use goat meat trimmings and offal including the brain for its creamy and subtle flavour, but also the liver for its earthy punchy kick.

Minced goat can also be transformed into a mouthwatering moussaka or kofta kebabs, but the ultimate way to enjoy minced goat is in a burger! I love them with served with a tangy mint yoghurt sauce and grilled Paneer cheese.

So, although we mainly enjoy goat for festivities and celebrations, this healthy red meat has huge potential to grace our tables more than just a few times a year, and not just in a curry.

  •  Lance Seeto is the host of FBC-TV’s Exotic Delights and chef/owner of KANU Gastropub

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