I Just Happened to Have…
a shoulder of goat, some dried apricots and a few almonds
This summer I have resolved to use up whatever I happen to have in my freezer, fridge and store cupboards before I buy new ingredients. Last week, for example, I was wondering what to cook for dinner, and it just so happened I had a guinea fowl in the fridge, a kaffir lime leaf plant on my kitchen window sill and some red peppercorns bought in a spice shop in Toulouse. And so my recipe for Guinea Fowl with Peppercorn and Kaffir Lime Leaf Butter came to be. It caused some amusement among social media followers whose cupboards are typically less well stocked, but it was delicious and has since become a family favourite.
My freezer is currently home to an unusual amount of kid and goat meat which was in need of a cull. I should perhaps explain here that some of it is destined for my cookery class Cooking with Kid on 11 September but there is certainly an excess. There is also an excess of dried fruit and nuts in the cupboard.
So, while waiting for a shoulder of kid to defrost, and wondering how to cook it, I unearthed some plump no-soak dried apricots and lovely crunchy Spanish almonds – perfect partners in a tagine. I also just happened to have some saffron and the heady Moroccan spice mix ras-el-hanout. And that is how my next 'Just Happened to Have' recipe came about. Check it out at Moroccan Kid Tagine with Apricots and Almonds. Don't be daunted if you don't have goat or kid – a shoulder of lamb would be fine.
Thinking about goat meat, I'm curious as to why British cooks seem reluctant to use it, although it is much appreciated in other parts of the world. I have enjoyed spicy goat curries in Jamaica, superb spit roasts and kebabs in the Middle East, and succulent cutlets cooked over a wood fire in Italy.
I suppose some people are put off by the thought of goatiness; goat-based dairy products, particularly yogurt and milk, have a distinctive flavour that is not to everyone's taste. The meat, however, is another matter. It is deep red, rich and gamey but not that different from lamb, mutton or beef. Meat from the kid (a young male between 6 weeks and 3 months old) is paler and sweeter. The meat is certainly nutritious; unlike most red meat it is low in cholesterol and saturated fat – an ideal food if you are a committed carnivore but are concerned about health.
The good news is that there are an encouraging number of flocks in the UK, and goat meat is beginning to show up on restaurant menus and in the food media. That said, I'm told it's still a real challenge to get butchers to stock it. If you are keen to give the meat a try, the best hunting grounds are farm shops or mail order direct from the producer (see Links we Like).
© Christine McFadden, August 2015