Curried Goat. Yes, Goat.

Ten years ago, if you asked me whether I liked goat I would have looked at you askance, screwed up my face like you had suggested the New Kids On The Block would make a come back, and told you to beat it unless you were planning on buying me another beer.  Then I ate some really, really great West Indian goat curry, which sparked in me an ongoing longing and craving for MORE really, really great goat curry.  A great goat curry is rich and moreish; spicy but not overpoweringly hot, with a thick, meaty texture and deep dark layers of flavor that keep curling across your tongue and convincing you that one more bite is less of an option than a necessity.

I get it, though.  Despite the fact that we’re just talking about the lean mean cousin of fatty lamb, it is still GOAT.

The average barnyard is an awful lot like high school.  The chickens are Team Girl Squad, milling about on the driveway, around the lockers, swarming over table after table in the cafeteria, and basically building on space and sound as they travel around in a high pitched, impetuous, nattering brood.  The pig is that guy who’s name you don’t know, but he’s always in the same uniform of relaxed fit jeans, an oversized hoodie, and a ball cap.  The pig has a solid ‘C’ average, and he makes lewd comments about the chickens as they scatter by him, avoiding any eye or bodily contact.  The rooster is a smart aleck, always pushing the limits just a little bit too far, and egocentrically strutting around all skinny chest and shoulders to cover up his crushing fear of failure (P.S. – the rooster is, like, so totally still a virgin and Carrie from Chemistry says he made up that story about getting drunk with Mandy outside the 7-Eleven last summer.  Just sayin’). The cow, of course, is that cute guy on the football team who would have to be surgically separated from his worn in leather jacket and/or the colony of chicks which is constantly gathered around him.  Every time he smiles you hear a slight *tiiiiinnng* and the sun shines a little bit brighter.   Don’t even get me started on the horse, or that crazy look in her eyes.

Then you have the goat.  Yes, the goat.  You know the goat.  You went to elementary school with the goat.  He was still blowing spit bubbles and accidentally giving himself wedgies when he was thirteen years old.  Then he had that growth spurt and got progressively more gangly and angular, with every part jutting out haphazard and discordant, like a barn cat in a bag of nails.  One time you had to sit beside the urine-sweet smelling goat on a class trip to the museum and he stared, blinking his watery red eyes at you, for 20 minutes before finally wheezing out, “Did you know that I’m awwewgic to kale?”

But time goes on, my friends, and next thing you know you’re browsing Facebook on a lonely Tuesday night at 1 a.m. and you see that guy who has the same name as the goat but can’t possibly be.  Sure, you have thirty five mutual friends, and your hometown is the same, and OKAY, maybe you’re both in the same scanned grade three picture, but….but….it just can’t be.  The goat has transformed into a glossy haired heart breaker with a rapier’s wit, smug and certain smile, and a disconcerting habit of throwing mounds of software development money up into the air just to watch it drift away.  The goat has come of age, and all of a sudden you look down at your worn out Lululemon  yoga pants with the hole in the crotch and the Crocs that you swore you’d never buy but now own in seven different colors, and you wonder if maybe it was never about who the goat was at all.  If only you had taken the time to get to know the goat, would things be different now that you’re older and mature? Maybe all that it would take is a dimly lit room with you, the goat, and a cold six pack of beer to make beautiful things happen.  The time has come to get beyond your childish phobia and disdain for the goat, and embrace the goat for the lean but tender, curry loving gent that he is.

(And no, that was not a story about my life.  AS IF I would ever wear Crocs)

Jamaican Curried Goat

Serves 4-6

  • 2.2 lb (1 kg) bone-in cubes of goat meat (about 1.5″)
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 6 large cloves of garlic
  • 1″ fat chunk of fresh ginger
  • 1 heaping tbsp fresh thyme, roughly chopped *
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers **
  • 1 tsp allspice berries
  • 3 tbsp curry powder, divided ***
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 large green onions
  • 1 bay leaf
  • approximately 2 cups cold water
  • 2 lb starchy potatoes (about 2-3 large)
  • salt and pepper to taste

* Is fresh thyme necessary? No, but I’m in the process of finalizing my plan of Death By Neglect For Unfortunate Indoor Herbs. I figured that I could at least get a few good sprigs out of this plant before it finally pulled a dust to dust. On that note, if you were using dried thyme you would want to use about 2 level teaspoons, or roughly half as much.

** Scotch bonnet peppers are sometimes referred to as Jamaican peppers, Bahama Mamas, Bahamian peppers, and Martinique peppers.  If you can’t find a bonnet by any other name, a good substitution is the slightly sweeter (but still potent) habanero.  If you only like a moderate spice omit the second pepper.

*** I have problems. Serious problems. One of them is that I’m a spice collector, and right now my spice rack (and cupboard…and tupperware boxes) contain somewhere between 5-7 curry blends.  Is this excessive? Absolutely.  I get that.  But I challenge you to surreptitiously make off with any one of them, because I’LL KNOW, and I’ll hunt you down for it.  Curry powder is a spice blend, rather than a pure spice, and the regional variations are quite astounding which is why I’m happy to have made a temporary home for curry blends from Sri Lanka, India (x 2), Jamaica, Malaysia, Japan, and a big ol’ cheap jar of generic curry powder that I would use in a pinch if need be.  Okay, that one you could steal and I wouldn’t mind. That said, because I know that not everybody has curry out the wazoo (make no jokes about late night post-bar chicken korma, please) so I made this with Johnny Generic as a test.  It was fine.  In fact, it was more than fine.  So there you go.  Feel free to use what you’ve got, and don’t feel compelled to shell out for a specialty West Indian curry powder unless you really feel the yen.

It wasn’t until I took that picture that I realized what massive (inherited) Costco-on-steroids style bottles of vegetable oil and white vinegar we have.  Huh.  That’s something, eh?  But before you start mocking this excess, I would like to remind you that if Canada ever got attacked by furry space invaders, and we all had to seek shelter in the underground, and the only thing for us to eat was salad because maybe lettuce actually grows splendidly in the subway tunnels, and everybody was craving a really white trash vinaigrette, well, huh, I would TOTALLY be their hero.  Just bear that in mind before you mock the goods.

Coarsely crush the allspice berries in a mortar and pestle, or pulse them in a spice grinder until they are mostly broken down.

Give the cubes of goat a quick rinse under cold running water and pat them dry before placing them in a large mixing bowl.  Toss the goat cubes with the vinegar.

Dice the yellow onion (roughly 1/4″ chunks) and mince the garlic, peeled ginger, and one (1) of the two scotch bonnet peppers.  Add these to the goat as well as the crushed allspice, roughly chopped thyme, and one (1) tablespoon of the curry powder.  If you want a goat curry that has just a whiff of kick you can take out the ribs and seeds of the pepper before mincing it finely and omit the second pepper.  For a medium heat, remove the seeds and ribs of both peppers.  I like it hot and come hither, so everything goes into the bowl and I add a second whole pepper to the stew.  It’s to your preference, but the more the merrier.

Mix everything together so that the goat meat is evenly coated before covering the bowl and leaving it in the fridge to marinate.  You can let the goat marinate for as little as 2 hours or up to overnight if you have the time.

Remove the goat from the rest of the mixture, scraping off any bits of onion or the like which are stuck to it.   Reserve both piles because they will be used momentarily.

Heat the oil up in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot set over medium high heat.  Add the reserved onion mixture and saute until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Be sure that the heat is not too high and you’re stirring regularly because you don’t want the onions or garlic to start browning or burn.

Add the goat meat and remaining two (2) tablespoons of curry powder.

Cook the goat, stirring regularly, until the outside of each piece has sealed and started to brown, which takes about 5 minutes.  While the goat is cooking, chop the green onions (white bottoms and green tops) into medium sized chunks of about a half inch.  Add the green onion to the goat and let this saute together for another 2 minutes.  The mixture will be very fragrant at this point, and some of the spice might be starting to stick to the bottom of the pot.  This is absolutely alright.

Add two cups of cold water to the pot and stir, scraping along the bottom to loosen any bits of spice or meat that have chosen to cling.  Cold water in a hot pan will loosen everything up just splendidly, as long as you stir vigorously along the bottom of the pot.  This is how the Jamaicans be de-glazin’, mon. The water should just reach the top of the goat meat.  If it doesn’t, add another little splash at a time (no more than 1 cup in total) until it does.

Drop in the bay leaf and the other whole scotch bonnet pepper (if what you choose to use of it).  Turn the heat down to low because you want the stew to simmer rather than boil.  Simmering will yield tender, succulent meat over time.  Boiling will cause the meat to seize and immediately shrink up, taking significantly more time to undo the havoc you have just wreaked.

Cover the pot and let the pot simmer for about 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring every now and then when you remember.  After the long simmer your goat should be tender and starting to pull away from the bone.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into large stew sized chunks, each about the same size as the cubes of meat.  Stir the potatoes into the curry and let this cook, uncovered, for another 30 – 40 minutes.

You want to do the final stage of cooking without a cover on the pot so that the liquid can start to reduce, thickening with the starches released from the potato.  The final texture should be more like a thick curry than a loose stew.  If you added a touch too much water and need to keep the pot uncovered for another 20 minutes, so be it.  The potatoes won’t mind.

By this time the goat and potatoes will be meltingly tender and richly flavored in the spicy curried gravy.

Serve the curried goat over boiled white rice, or the traditional rice and peas….which is a total misnomer, and despite my affection for rice and peas that always kind of niggles and eats away at me.  There is rice, true, and I’m sure that at some point there were a variety of peas.  However, rice and peas as we commonly know it is white rice simmered in coconut milk with kidney beans and occasionally garlic or herbs.  Delicious, right?  I agree.  But I would be much happier if it was called “rice and kidney beans” or “long grain and legumes”.  What can I say? I have no sense of whimsy.

This curry is baaaaad to the knuckled bone, it is.

Of course the leftovers are even better over the next few days, in all of their reheated glory, but you’ll forgive me if I say that they rarely last that long.  As far as Jamaican curried goat goes, if you served this in a Styrofoam container with a grease stain and some dirty finger prints on top, anybody would believe that it came from your local Patty King.   And yes, I think that’s a plus.

If you have never had goat, now is as good a time as ever to give it a try.  With a long, slow simmer in spicy and richly flavored broth, you won’t be disappointed.

  • http://thespitefulchef.blogspot.com kristie

    In Jamaica they just call it “Curry Goat,” which I thought was weird until I went to Jamaica and realized that they’re mostly stoned most of the time.

    I always thought the goat was the guy that would eat cigarette butts for a dollar just to impress people. But maybe I’m giving him an unfair shake. All I know is that I wish I went to your barnyard school.

  • http://www.lechefsblog.com Drew

    Thanks for posting your goat recipe, Tina. Looking back on the version I made last month, I think that while it was good (and supposedly authentic) what it was missing was totally vinegar. My sauce was blended up with water (which did seem strange at the time, but I was working with a recipe from the Jamaican travel bureau, so I figured they knew what they were doing). Next time it’ll definitely have some vinegar for kick.

    In keeping with the subject of “meat you don’t use every day”, I boiled a pig’s head for a torchon this weekend. Check it out if you’re interested.

    Drew

  • http://www.journeykitchen.blogspot.com Umme Kulsum

    So you came around the goat finally !! Would you believe that I have not been posting just because the next post is yet again on mutton? I’m totally creeped that someone shall call me a mutton eating meatovore! And here I’m looking at another great recipe on goat. But may be i’ll have to make it with lamb or mutton….as I’m sure I won’t find goat here.

    And oh I think I’ll can compete with you about the spices. Its so bad that I have to find other Places ** to hide them as the kitchen cabinet might as well collapse. And more importantly to save my self from people looking at me with AWE (how much money do you spend on your grocery look)

    I’m with you on the rice though. I love the “long grain and legumes” and make them often.

  • sara page

    I l-o-v-e your site! This looks sooo good! I want to try making it because our one little Indian food place in our tiny town is closing so i wont have any curry yummies anymore unless i make it. thanks for posting this!

  • Pia

    Love love love goat. I grew up on Chivo Guisado, but I appreciate both Curry Goat and Goat Curry.

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver

    I’m still a little afraid of goat because I’m afraid it would be very gamey (or “lamb-y”). I’ve tried it once in recent memory and it seemed to be less gamey than lamb, actually! I guess I need a few more “taste tests” to completely get rid of the fear.

    Haha, we have big-ass containers of stuff from Costco too! The shelves near the stove with all those stuff is OUT OF CONTROL! Things don’t fit in there.

    Love the little HS analogy, esp. “…a disconcerting habit of throwing mounds of software development money up into the air just to watch it drift away.” LOL.

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com lo

    I had goat for the first time at an Indian restaurant — and it blew my mind. I had no idea what to expect, but it really surpassed anything I could have anticipated.

    Of course, now I’m totally jealous of your curry collection. Been looking for a good Jamaican style curry… and I’m not even sure I’d know a good one if I found it. Got any good sources to recommend??

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Kristie – ah, the vagaries of dialect. I love it. There are so many variations on how different areas speak the English language, and I really can’t get enough of it. I work with a woman from Newfoundland, and slightly more than half the time I don’t have the foggiest idea what she’s trying to tell me.

    By the way – I was torn about the Goat. I can see him as the lad who eats street filth for a dare, but I can also see him equally as the guy who wears Howling Wolf tee shirts to be ironic, has a greasy shag which hangs down into his bleary eyes, and goes on incessantly about Pulp Fiction, The Wire, and why KraftWerk is the best band ever.

    Drew – Oh god, I had respect for you before, but it continues to grow. I will definitely be checking that out!!!

    Umme – I love mutton! Saltish mutton is one of my all time favorite roasted meats. Don’t feel bad about a glut of mutton, just post! Post away!

    Sara Page – aw, thanks lady! We’re very glad that you stopped by and enjoyed the site 🙂

    Pia – That’s awesome. Just awesome.

    TS – It can definitely be gamey like lamb, but when it is slow cooked in a richly flavored sauce that complements the flavor, you don’t eat it and think of musky meat. And yes, the only thing worse than navigating the check out line of a Costco on Saturday afternoon is getting home and realizing that you have zero storage space for the mountains of goods that you bought.

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  • Loraine Rickard-Martin

    Cooking curry goat in Manhattan

    So, I’m 61 years old, at least fifth generation Jamaican (who’s counting?), living in New York City for the past almost 40 years, and cooked curry goat for the very first time last night. (Ok, you can wipe that grin off your face now. Have you ever cooked curry goat?). So I call my mother in Florida and say, “Mom, how you cook curry coat?” “Easy, mi love. Season the meat, brown it, then tip little-little water and steam it for a while til it tender. And remember, steam, don’t boil – it will tough up!” Say what? Season the meat with what? How much water is ‘little-little’? And how long is a while? An hour, three hours, a day?

    I find a little help online: season with curry powder, garlic, onion, thyme, salt and pepper, and Scotch Bonnet pepper (when I asked, the young lady at the food store retorted ‘You mean habanero!’Same thing!) and simmer until tender. Can anyone tell me why recipes for Jamaican dishes can never tell you how long to cook a thing? Some recipes say add a cup of water to 3 lbs of meat, others say, cover the meat with water (meaning you need at least 6 cups)! Every recipe for stew from any other country tells you to cook l l/2 to 2 hours or whatever. Jamaican recipes will only tell you ‘cook til tender’. Why? Do we Jamaicans have a particular love for uncertainty or mystery? Or do we just not like to share our cooking secrets? Most likely, like my mother and her sisters who are all fantastic cooks, cooking is second nature to us, and we figure things out in our heads (a pinch of this and a dash of that), not from formulas on the pages of a recipe book written by someone else. I end up patching together my mother’s advice with snippets gleaned from various posts on the internet, which were all minor variations on her basic theme, anyway.

    Now off to find goat meat in Manhattan. Everywhere sells oxtail, but nowhere sells goat. Why is that? Whole Foods: No, we never have goat! Shatzie’s Meats: I can order it but I need two days. (It’s Saturday, I want to cook it on Sunday; he can’t have it for me until Monday). Fairway Market; Yes, we have it, four packs (about 6 lbs, just what I need; no, I’m not planning a beach party!) — but whatever we have is already packaged and on the shelf. Hurry, I say, get that goat off the shelf! They’ll take it off the shelf and hold it for me for a half an hour. I fling on my clothes, hop on the subway and rush over to Fairway, pick up the goat, stash it in the fridge, and text my Singaporean friend who thinks she’s Jamaican to tell her “ I got the goat!” She texts back” “Be still my heart!” I’m laughing now…I have my goat!

    Sunday afternoon arrives and I start to cook. I season the meat (no time to let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two as recommended), brown it, and bring it to a boil (bit mistake, exactly what my mother told me not to do!). With the pot simmering nicely, after an hour or so, I add cut-up sweet potatoes and carrots. Simmer for another hour……and take a taste. Amazing flavor, but thr damn goat still tough! It’s now 7.30 pm, and hungry friends and family are circling the pot whining, ‘We’re hungry. When’s this thing going to be ready?” Soon come! Simmer another half an hour and at last, I have two potfuls with 6 lbs of tender, succulent goat meat, simpering in its own juices and velvety curry sauce. My rice and peas cooked in coconut milk and more Scotch Bonnet, is heavenly, and my sautéed green beans and spinach are a perfect complement. And I have leftovers to last all week! My apartment building never smelled so good. Oh bliss! Next week, pig trotters. Wish me luck, and send me your recipe; and any of your own tips for cooking curry goat!

    Loraine’s Curry Goat (you can cut the recipe in half; I like lots of leftovers)

    6 lbs goat meat (stew-size pieces)
    8 TBS curry powder (Jamaican style, luckily my sister Donna gave me a bag)
    1 large onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and minced (wear disposable gloves)
    2 TBS thyme leaves
    1 TBS salt
    1 TBS freshly ground pepper
    4 cups water
    3 sweet potatoes, sliced thin
    4 carrots, sliced thin

    Wash and dry the goat meat
    Season with the curry, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper
    Place in the refrigerator for one or two hours (I skipped this step)
    Brown the meat on all sides (about 4 minutes total)
    Add water to barely cover
    Bring the pot to a simmer (don’t boil) (I needed 2 pots)
    Let simmer for about 2 hours
    Add the cut-up sweet potatoes and carrots
    Simmer for another hour
    Add more salt to taste
    Serve hot and enjoy!

  • Loraine Rickard-Martin

    Of course, I meant to say BIG mistake, not ‘bit’ mistake…..Also, I noticed that your recipe calls for white vinegar and ginger. I’ll add those next time. Cheers!

  • http://www.ceeceescaribbeanfoodshop.com/ Connie

    Goat curry, one of the best curries by far. Worth a try for the uninitiated, could be the start of a new love affair.

  • Jotan1999

    Thank you for sharing your great sense of humor and recipe and cooking tips.  I referenced against it when I was making curry goat for the first time.  Can’t wait to try…

  • Yagi Oyaji

    Lol. Hilarious comments.. The curry sounds great..