Cooking With What You’ve Got
As a cookbook author and professional recipe developer, I’m fortunate in these intensely difficult times to have an abundance of ingredients readily available in my kitchen, plus fresh herbs and veg in the garden.
My freezer is currently home to an unusual amount of goat meat in need of a cull. So, while waiting for a shoulder of goat to defrost and wondering how to cook it, I unearthed some plump no-soak dried apricots and deliciously crunchy Spanish almonds – perfect for a Moroccan-style tagine. I also just happened to have some saffron and the heady Moroccan spice mix ras el hanout. And that is how my recipe for Moroccan Goat Tagine with Apricots and Almonds came about. Don’t be daunted by goat – the recipe works perfectly with a shoulder of lamb. You can substitute Spanish dried almonds with ordinary dried almonds or whatever crunchy nuts you have. Similarly, the dish will survive without saffron, and ras el hanout can be replaced with seeds such as cumin, coriander and fennel – or whatever you happen to have.
Thinking about goat meat, I’m curious as to why British cooks seem reluctant to use it, even though it’s much appreciated in many 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 expect some people are put off by the thought of goatiness – goat-based dairy products, particularly yogurt and milk, have a distinctive flavour that’s not to everyone’s taste. The meat, however, is another matter. It’s deep red, rich and gamey but not so different from lamb, mutton or even beef. Meat from a kid (a young male aged between six weeks and three months) is paler and sweeter. Goat meat is certainly nutritious. Unlike most red meat it’s low in cholesterol and saturated fat – ideal if you’re a keen carnivore but concerned about health.
The good news is that there are an encouraging number of goat flocks in the UK, and the meat has become easier to find. The best hunting grounds are good butchers and farm shops, or mail order from producers such as Cabrito Goat Meat (see also Links We Like). They will appreciate your custom.
For the weeks to come I have resolved to use what I have before heading to the food shops. Interesting recipes are evolving, many based on ordinary items such as sausages or a few sticks of celery. Others make use of unpromising vegetable stalks, fruit that has outstayed its welcome, or lesser-known cheap cuts of meat. Ox heart anyone? I’ll also show you how to make the most of leftovers and cut down on unnecessary food waste. I hope my recipes will inspire you and give you the confidence to cook with what you’ve got.
© Christine McFadden, March 2020