An article in the New York Times last year described goat as the most widely consumed meat in the world, but I’ve seen any number of sources on line disputing that. I think the explanation may be in the phrasing: The world may consume more pounds of pork or beef or poultry, but goat is what is eaten by a lot of people who are only able to eat meat on rare occasions (goats are very economical, naturally free-range, famously mobile, and they give excellent milk). So it may be true that more people around the world consume goat than any other meat.
In any event, you’d never suspect goat had any importance in the world’s diet if you started searching for recipes, as I have, especially recipes treating it as anything but stew meat. In spite of this handicap, I’ve actually been cooking goat for a year or two (see chops entries here and here). At first I was pretty much on my own, unable to find much information even on the internet.
But I was determined to check out cabrito, or kid, for myself (ourselves), and at least try preparing simple goat chops or racks. Yet while I was getting a bit of advice, and encouragement, from purveyors in the Greenmarket who specialized in milk products, I was afraid I was going to screw up and dishonor this wonderful animal. Goat is very forgiving however, and once I realized I was able to pretty much follow the approaches I use to cook lamb, I was home free. Goat and sheep are relatives, after all, as both belong to “the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae.”
I recently picked up a copy of a new book called “Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese,” and I expect to be consulting it a lot, but even Weinstein and Scarbrough didn’t help me out with my latest adventure in goat cookery: No mention of spare ribs.
Neither it nor anything I had learned up to two days ago could keep me from being at least a little stressed out about what I was going to do with the 21-oz. frozen rack of spare ribs – in lieu of a package of 5 chops (what were two guys going to do with an odd number?) – I had picked recently from Patches of Star Dairy in the Union Square Greenmarket. I had in fact never cooked spare ribs of any kind, and I couldn’t even locate basic instructions for lamb ribs on line, to say nothing of cabrito.
I wanted to avoid heating the oven on a very warm summer day, so I hoped to pan-grill the meat. I was reassured about how quickly the ribs might cook by their pale color. It was almost veal-like. I decided to use my square enameled cast-iron ribbed grill pan and in the end I pretty much winged it, grabbing some hints about timing from several recipes which were mostly devoted to spicy Indian or Moroccan cooking (I was trying for a more-or-less Italian concept, as usual, one which could be put together with ingredients I had on hand in my small kitchen).
Since the dinner description made it to the blog, it means it was yummy, but I’ll add: “really yummy”.
I have to say however that the Puglian wine with which we accompanied it, which is excellent, which we have always enjoyed many times, and which I’d buy again if I could (I think this was the last bottle from a case we had gotten from Astor Wines), just didn’t seem to stand out with this meal. And yet everything we had loved about it in the past was still there when we savored it alone.
- cabrito spare ribs from Elly Hushour’s Patches of Star Dairy, cut into four pieces and pan-grilled for a total of about 15 minutes, basting all along with a rosemary bouquet/bunch dipped in a mixture of oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper (and replacing a very loose cover of tin foil between each herb sweep); accompanied by green beans from Berried Treasures in the Greenmarket, parboiled, drained, dried, then reheated in oil; and small plum tomatoes (Juliet) from Lani’s Farm (again, the Greenmarket), which halved and briefly pan-grilled then brushed with oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar
- wine: Italian red, Canusio Troia Puglia IGT Rosso Diomede 2005 from Astor Wines & Spirits