Saturday, December 9, 2017

KIDDING AROUND


Is this what's for Noche Buena dinner? Baby kid roasted with potatoes and vegetables.

Early on in my life in an Andalusian village, I was shocked to see in the local butcher shop, ten tiny baby goats, still unskinned, hanging by their hind legs from a long rack. Straight from “pre-packaged” American supermarkets, I was disconcerted by meat in such a primary state. Nor had I ever eaten goat.

At that time, several herds of goats were stabled in the village. In the morning, the cabrero led his goats—brown, grey, and dappled—through the village streets, their small bells tinkling as they passed. In some doorways, a goat would come tripping out of the house to join the herd on its day´s outing to graze in the countryside. At another, a housewife stepped into the street with a pail. The cabrero called to one of his flock, “Rosita, ven p’ acá." One of the goats separated herself from the herd and the goatherd, squatting in the street, milked her right into the pail. After the herd passed, I could still smell their presence.

When the kids are born, baby males are culled (they aren't good for much except meat), while the females grow up to be dairy goats. That’s why baby kid was seasonally available from the butcher. It was especially appreciated for the feast of Noche Buena (Christmas Eve).

No goat herds reside in the pueblo nowadays, though some are stabled below the village. Refrigerated trucks pick up the milk and carry it to cheese makers elsewhere in the province and much farther afield (France). I never see the meat in my local market and hadn’t eaten it in years.

In recent years Chivo Lechal Malagueño (baby kid from Málaga) is being promoted and sold in some markets and via an internet site. (Chivo and cabrito are both words for kid-goat.) I sampled a whole goat menu at a local restaurant (goat chorizo, unctuous with ibérico pig fat; goat’s milk croquettes; fried kid riblets; roast leg of kid (cooked sous vide); and arroz con leche, rice pudding made with goat’s milk. That inspired me to cook kid-goat at home.

I found this meat quite expensive (€18 per kilo or about $9.65 per pound). I bought a whole rear half—two legs and the attached loin sections. This provided four generous servings. It would be a stretch to serve six. The meat is very delicate in flavor, somewhere between suckling lamb and young veal. It is very lean, so has a tendency to be dry. The kid cooked sous vide at the restaurant was juicier than my roasted rendition.

Baby goat, food for a festive occasion.

Potatoes and vegetables cooked in wine with the kid are fabulous. Saffron gives them a golden hue.

Kid is "the other white meat." Tender, delicate, very lean.

Roasted Kid-Goat with Potatoes
Chivo al Horno con Patatas 

This dish comes straight from the campo, the countryside around Málaga, where it once was a favorite holiday or wedding meal feast. Prepared in a giant pan (1 ½ feet in diameter), the dish spends most of the day in the slow, fragrant heat of the bread-baking oven.

For special occasions we would order the meal from a local bar. It consisted of a whole baby kid, hacked into fairly small pieces, layered with potatoes and vegetables in the big pan and baked at the local panadería (bread bakery).

If suckling kid or lamb is not available, try this dish using lamb chops. Use more or less wine. Use chicken stock or water for the remaining liquid. Part way through roasting, check to make sure liquid still remains in the pan.

Peel tomatoes with a peeler.

Peeling the tomatoes before slicing them means no annoying loose tomato skins mixed in with the yummy potatoes and vegetables. Use a vegetable peeler to peel firm tomatoes. 

To roast a whole head of garlic, spear it on a fork or grasp with tongs and turn it over a gas flame or put it under the broiler (grill), turning, until it is charred on all sides. Rub off the skin and peel the garlic cloves. 



Two back legs plus the loin sections, ready for the oven. 
Spices and vegetables.

Serves 4.
 
3 ½ - 4 pounds kid-goat
Salt and pepper
Thyme
½ cup olive oil
2 onions, sliced
8 medium potatoes (about 2 ½ pounds), peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
2 green bell peppers, cut in strips
4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
1 head garlic, roasted
1 teaspoon saffron threads
½ teaspoon coarse salt
10 peppercorns
2 cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups white wine
½ cup chicken stock or water

Sprinkle the meat with salt, pepper and thyme and allow it to come to room temperature.

Spread half the oil in a roasting pan or large cazuela. Place a layer of onions on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of sliced potatoes, strips of green pepper and sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt and half of the parsley. Continue with remaining onions, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and parsley. Sprinkle with salt. Break the bay leaves in half and tuck the pieces in with the vegetables. Peel the cloves of roasted garlic and push them under the vegetables too.

Layer potatoes, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and garlic in the bottom of roasting pan. Pour over spice mixture with saffron. Add oil and wine. Place the meat on top.

Crush saffron and spices.
In a mortar, crush the saffron with the coarse salt, peppercorns and cloves. Stir in the cinnamon. Stir in ¼ cup of the wine. Pour the spices over the vegetables.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place the meat, skin side down, on top of the vegetables. Pour the remaining olive oil over the meat.

Roast the kid 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Roast 1 hour more.

Remove the pan from the oven.  Turn the meat skin side up. Baste it with some of the liquid in the pan. If liquid has cooked away, add more water. Return the pan to the oven. Roast 30 minutes longer, until the meat is browned and potatoes are cooked. 

Kid and vegetables can be served straight from the roasting pan. Or, if preferred, remove them to a serving platter.

Allow the pan to set 10 minutes before serving. The potatoes will absorb some of the remaining pan juices. If desired, remove meat and vegetables to a serving platter.


Recipes for chicken and fish prepared in a similar manner:

6 comments:

  1. in Monterrey, Mexico, friends told me, "We're going to El Rey del Cabrillo". I said, "King of goats?" "Yes, it's a local specialty." It was pretty good.

    The one time I tried to make goat myself was terrible. Meat was very gamey, as well as dry.

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    1. David: According to the cookbook Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese by Weinstein and Scarbrough, goat is the most widely consumed meat in the world! (Lots of good recipes.) Suckling kid is not gamey. Older goat meat I haven't cooked in many years. I remember it was great for curries.

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  2. That's a totally fascinating history of the goats in town. I'd love to taste your roast and vegetables.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Mae: I´m pleased you enjoyed the goat tales.

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  3. Yum! I have also eaten at El Rey del Cabrito in Monterrey, as well as its competitor whose name I have forgotten but whose food was excellent. I haven't seen cabrito in our markets here in Toledo, but I had the same reaction you did when I saw whole bunnies in their fur in the poultry case at my local store. Thanks for sharing. Maybe I'll find a source one of these days for the goat kids.

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    1. Judy: I bet your favorite carnicero could order cabrito. Or, check out the link for Chivo Lechal Malagueño posted in the blog. You can order on-line.

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