Unique Meats: Goat with Yogurt Sauces

In the spirit of trying new things, from time to time I’m going to cook a meat outside the American comfort zone of beef, pork or chicken and share my experience. First up: Goat.

My aunt- and uncle-in-law recently returned from a multi-year stay in Oman. Their Christmas present to the family was a cookbook collecting their favorite recipes. One called “Mushkak” caught my eye – it was for grilled goat.

The first challenge was tracking down the goat, also called chevon (adult goat) or cabrito (kid goat). My uncle-in-law suggested trying a Mexican specialty market or a store with a halal meat counter. Since I live in Los Angeles, where every type of food is available somewhere, I wasn’t too worried about finding the goat, and I was right. There was a market that butchered meat to halal specifications just down the street from me.

In retrospect, the cabrito the market offered wasn’t the greatest. It was stew meat, but I planned to grill it.  The meat was cut into 1-inch cubes, but with pieces of bone. In order for the goat to cook evenly on my grill pan, I removed them. This left uneven sizes of meat, so I knew presentation wasn’t going to be ideal. I made another mistake when seasoning the meat and included too much spice rub. The rub was delicious, but it overwhelmed the flavor of the goat, which is similar to lamb. Goat is also very lean, so my heavy hand with the spices dried out the meat.

The meal wasn’t a failure – the goat was still tasty, albeit not that tender, and the side dishes were delicious. The goat, combined with two yogurt sauces, pita bread and a tomato, cucumber and quinoa salad made for an authentic-tasting Middle Eastern meal.  The recipes below include all of my on-the-job learning. Would I make goat again? Yes.

Mushkak with Omani Bizaar spice rub

Recipe from Layla Mitchell.

When shopping for goat, ask if it is cabrito (kid goat). Then look for loin chops, rib chops or leg steaks.

Ingredients:

  • A little more than 1 pound meat, chopped into 1-inch cubes. (Or to be sure you have the correct amount of meat, buy one loin chop per person you are serving, then cube.)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Step 1. Combine all spices together.

Step 2. Mix spice rub with meat in sealable plastic bag; let sit overnight.

Step 3. Grill on barbeque or stove-top grill pan to desired doneness. Goat is a red meat, it changes color and texture similar to beef. Brown/grey meat is well done; aim for meat with a pink center. Serves 4.

 

 

Yogurt Sauces

These two sauces are perfect for this meal, both for dipping with the meat and the pita bread. Both sauces come from Mark Bittman and How to Cook Everything.

Cucumber-Yogurt Dip Ingredients:

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1. Slice cucumber in half, scoop out seeds. Then quarter and slice thinly.

Step 2. Combine remaining ingredients and stir.

 

Spicy Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • dash cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1. Combine ingredients and stir.

This photo shows my first attempt at making pita bread. I’ve perfected my technique now.

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