Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Good Food Festival and Conference in Chicago. Farmers, chefs, and foodies, and even butchers, bakers, and candlestick-makers (I couldn't resist!) all came together to support and promote locally grown, wholesome food. The three-day event featured demos from renowned chefs and visits from the political elite, including our own newly elected Governor Rauner. Presentations, classes, and demonstrations were held throughout the day on topics ranging from rooftop gardening to social media branding and food fermentation. I spent most of my time in the tradeshow though, were more than 100 vendors gathered to sample their wares. And sample I did! I was thrilled to see some of our own Buy Fresh Buy Local members setting up booths, including the great folks at Autumn Berry Inspired (you must try their fruit leather if you haven't yet) and our friends at Kilgus Farmstead. I came away from the event with plenty of recipe inspiration and an armful of goodies, including two packages of goat chops from Kilgus Farmstead that I couldn't wait to test out!
Did you know that goat is actually the most widely consumed meat in the world? The U.S. hasn't really jumped on the goat bandwagon yet...there seems to be something a little bit disconcerting about the thought of eating goat meat for most Americans. So instead of calling this dish Goat Tikka Masala, we're going to go with the French culinary lingo and refer to it as Chevon. Chevon just sounds prettier right? Imagine dishing this out at your next dinner party: "And tonight we'll be serving farm-raised chevon in an exotic tikka masala sauce of tomatoes and coconut milk, garnished with fresh cilantro and served with homemade na'an flatbread." If that doesn't impress your house guests, I don't know what will. Of course, the beauty of this recipe is that while it's elegant enought to turn heads at a dinner party, it's also simple and comforting enough to make the perfect weeknight meal on a chilly evening.
So there are a couple of things you should know about goat before you dive in. First, it tastes very similar to lamb, which means it can have a somewhat gamey, pungent flavor. A lot of the gamey flavor resides in the fat, so a little trim will help out a lot. Second, it can be chewey. To counteract these attributes, a good marinade is needed (yogurt and buttermilk based marinades are sound choices as the lactose in these products has a way of removing the gamey flavor). Also, a recipe with low temperatures and slow-roasting will help to make the meat more tender. The chevon tikka masala recipe below takes advantage of both of these tricks of the trade, and the result is a stunning dish that will have you calling for seconds. The ingredient list is somewhat long, but don't be off-put, you can simplify by buying a pre-made garam masala spice mix, which is widely available at most grocery stores. For the best results though, buy the whole spices to toast and grind yourself. It's a little extra effort, but a LOT of extra flavor and their is something deeply satisfying in the smell of roasting spices. Give it a shot!
(Note: I couldn't find cardamom seeds or brown mustard seeds, so I went without and the flavor of the spice mix was still amazing. This is just to say, don't stress if you are missing one ingredient, it will still be delish)
1. Place goat in a plastic bag with yogurt, salt, and spices and marinate for at least one hour or overnight.
2. Add butter to a pan on medium-low heat. Once it melts, add onions and cook until completely golden brown, but be careful not to burn them (this will take at least 15-20 minutes.)
3. There are two options for preparing your meat here while the onions cook: A. You can grill the meat on high heat to give it a nice charred, smoky flavor and then cut it into chunks that will be thrown into the pan later, or B. You can just cut up your meat and prepare and stir fry it in the pan with the onions in order to simplify the cooking process. If you are going with option B, begin stir frying your meat now to get a nice browning on the outside.
4. Once the onions are soft and golden, add ginger, garlic, and jalapeno and saute for a few more minutes.
5. Add spices and let them bloom for a minute. Inhale deeply. This is the best part!
6. Add green pepper and tomato sauce (and meat if you went with option A) and cover your pan. Let everything simmer for 12-15 minutes.
7. Add 1 can of coconut milk and let everything simmer for another few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Garnish with cilantro and a big dollop of greek yogurt and serve with traditional na'an flatbread or a nice bowl of rice.