Sunday, January 24, 2010

Braised Curried Goat with Curried Chickpeas and Coconut Saag

Mystery Goat. 
Not Your Average Goat. 
Boldly Goat Where No Goat has gone before. 
I did the Goat my way. 

These are just a few of the names I was contemplating for this post. There were a few more, but these are the ones that I could remember when typing.  Why so many names? Because this was a unique dish (for me) and I felt like there were so many ways to describe it. 

First off, I'm not even sure what part of the goat the meat came from. How can this be? Well, a dear friend of ours was in Montreal a few months ago and picked up this goat (some for him, some for us). I couldn't use it said weekend, so I vacuum packed it. It was a larger cut so I knew I would have to wait for a weekend so that I would have lots of time for defrosting and preparation. The only part that I could discern in this collective chunk of meat was a leg - clearly a leg. The other chunk - I'm just not sure. But that didn't deter me. 

My immediate desire was to curry this mystery goat. Mostly because that's the way I've had goat previously (in Jamaica and at a local Asian restaurant). Alas, I did some digging on the internet, and didn't find a satisfactory recipe, so I decided to wing it. 

Defrosting. On Saturday evening when it was clear that Sunday would be a suitable goat-day, I pulled out said beast from the deep freeze. I let it stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes just to get a bit of frost off. I then plunged it into a cold Dutch oven pot filled with cold water and put into the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, the goat was nearly defrosted, although it had a shield of ice all around it which removed easily when cleaned under running water.  

Given that I wasn't quite sure how to cook this goat, I resorted to a bit of a Julia Child braising method - sans the early prep work of browning the meat. I made a braising mixture in the Dutch oven (the goat was sitting on a plate while prepping this step) of curry powder, tomatoes, carrots, onion, and chicken stock (I suppose you could use goat stock if you happen to have this handy). I chucked it into a 250F oven at 9 a.m. - and left for the day to run amok around town with my husband. At 2:00 we popped back home just to make sure the goat was ok. No boiling over. No smoking cauldron setting off fire alarm bells.

At 5:00 p.m. the goat appeared cooked so I removed it from the braising liquid and picked through the meat. This was probably the most labor intensive part of the task. I had to not only remove bones, but large bits of fat, and scrape of slippery pieces of silver skin. The end result was a rather large amount of lovely, tender goat meat that resembled pulled pork.

Although the goat had braised in a curry liquid, it needed more curry. So after picking it over, I added back the strained braising tomatoes and onions, a good 1/2 cup garam masala paste, and 4 hot chiles (ground). I then covered it and let it finish in the oven to warm through and blend the flavours.  

Meanwhile, I prepared an adaptation of a delicious curried chickpea recipe that was in this month's LCBO "Food and Drink" magazine and basmati rice. In the last few minutes I got to thinking that I should have some sort of veggie so prepared an ad hoc coconut curried spinach recipe.

This dinner was delicious. Outstanding. My husband rated it in the top 10 of all dinners ever!

Braised Curried Goat
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion roughly sliced
1 carrot roughly chopped
1-3 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp curry powder
3-4 pounds goat meat (all in, bones and fat)
1/4 cup garam masala paste (I used Patak's)
4 dried hot chiles, ground (in mortar and pestle or spice grinder)

Mix the tomatoes, onion, carrots and curry powder and 1 cup of the chicken stock in a large dutch oven. Place the goat into the mixture and add additional chicken stock to cover. Place into a 250F oven and let cook for 6-7 hours.

Remove the goat from the braising liquid and pick out the meat discarding any bones, fat, silver skin, or slippery filament. Strain the braising liquid and discard any additional bones, fat, silver skin or slippery filament. Once you have all the meat picked through, put into a casserole dish. Add back the strained veggies. Mix in the garam masala paste and hot chiles. Return to a 300-320F oven for 1 hour to blend the flavours.

Chickpeas with Garam Masala
Adapted from LCBO's Food and Drink Magazine, Winter 2010 magazine.
The saute times may seem short but are important so that the ingredients are not overcooked or become bitter. This is a trick that I learned from my friend Seema.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
4 dried hot chiles, ground
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
Heat the oil in a frying or saute pan. Add the onion and saute one minute. Add the garlic, ginger and chiles and saute 2 minutes. Add the cumin seed and saute one minutes. Add the chickpeas and salt. Stir to mix and stiry-fry for about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-low, add the water and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the other dishes are ready.

Coconut Saag
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 small bag spinach
1/2 can coconut milk*
Heat the oil in a large pot. Saute the onions and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and saute 1 minute. Add the spinach and stir until reduced (it will shrink a lot). Add the coconut and mix through .

*The half can coconut milk isn't convenient as what do you do with the other half. Add as part of the liquid to basmati rice or add to a soup.

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