Goat, The Other Dark Meat

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When the legendary pork rancher Bill Niman starts raising goats, you have to think he's on to something. But in fact, it's something the rest of the world is already very familiar with. Goat is actually the most popular and widely consumed meat in the world especially in countries like India, Thailand, China, Mexico, Costa Rica, Barbados, and Brazil. Goat meat is very lean so it's low in fat and a great source of protein. Plus, as you'll learn below, goat milk products are actually easier to digest than cow's milk, which is great news for people who have been avoiding dairy products because of digestion issues. 

We spoke with cookbook authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough to find out more, plus the best methods for cooking goat, using goat's milk and yogurt in recipes, and what goat meat really tastes like. 


Why did you decide to write a book about goat, that though popular in the rest of the world, isn't as popular in America? 

It's getting more popular in North America, and for years, all the food magazines and food sections said that goat is the next big thing. But I don't think it's coming, I think it's here. Almost every high-end restaurant plays around with putting goat on the menu and Whole Foods and high-end supermarkets are carrying goat. And with the move of people trying to eat more local, to be more of a locavore, goat is a good choice because it's not factory farmed, so if you buy goat whether it's at the farmers market or directly from the farm, or even a supermarket, you are much closer to the farmer than you would be buying pork or beef.


The book lists some places where you can buy goat, but where is the best place to find it?

You are best off starting with your farmers market or talk to you supermarket butcher, they should be able to order you some goat.


What are some of the health benefits of goat meat and products?

Well, goat meat ounce for ounce has less fat and cholesterol than chicken, so it is really healthy, very low fat, and on top of that, because it's not factory farmed, there are no antibiotics or hormones approved for use on goats, so you are most likely getting, if not an organic product, something that was raised more naturally than a factory-farmed animal. So overall, goat meat is leaner, healthier, and not full of chemicals and antibiotics.

And of course all of that translates into goat dairy as well. The dairy goats are not fed the same as cow dairy are, so goat milk is better in that respect. Goat dairy is also easier to digest because there is less fat in whole goat milk then there is whole cow milk. And the fat molecules that are there are much smaller, as are the proteins than compared to cow's milk, so it makes it more easily digestible.

So if you are having problems with lactose, it's not guaranteed, but there is a greater chance that you'll be easier to digest goat dairy because of the chemical structure.


Can goat's milk and yogurt be used interchangeably with cow's milk and yogurt, or are there certain things that you need to account for?

Well goat yogurt is thinner than cow yogurt because the fat molecules are smaller, so it doesn't set up the way cow's milk yogurt does. You might have some issues using it in a cake batter or that kind of things, so keep in mind the liquidness of the yogurt. Overall, it's pretty much interchangeable. But remember that you will change the flavor because goat dairy is less mild than the meat and has a distinct barnyard quality, so anytime you put that in cooking, you are going to put that flavor of goat dairy in there, which is a nice thing. Goat dairy has a savory-ness and an umami flavor, so it adds that to sweet things, like caramel, blondies, brownies, cheesecakes...


For people who are wary of eating goat meat, how would you describe the taste?

Goat meat tastes like a cross between dark meat turkey and pork. It's very mild, very sweet, but it doesn't have that gaminess that people expect it to. People think oh no it's goat, it will be very gamey. It's milder in flavor than lamb, lamb can be very gamey, but goat doesn't have half of that gamey quality lamb does. If people don't like, then chances are that they didn't taste good goat.

We also call it the cruise effect. On a cruise, people have some Jamaican goat curry and don't like it. But we've found that older, stinky goats are used for meat in those dishes, and that's not what you'll find here. The goat meat here is younger, milder, and sweeter.


What are some of the best methods for cooking goat?

Well braising is the best because goat meat is a low and slow kind of meat. There's very little on the goat that you can't cook. Of course there's ground goat, and you can make goat burgers, meatballs, and things that cook quickly. Other than that, goat chops, just like lamb chops, can be made on the grill or under the broiler. The leg, shoulder, hip, and neck need a long slow braise. That's why our book is full of French stews, Indians curries; we actually have a whole chapter on curries because every culture has its own version of curry. 


Click here to see the Chocolate-Dipped Goat Cheese Balls recipe. 

Click here to see the Pan-Roasted Chops with Blackberries and Sage recipe. 

Click here to see the Pizza with Goat Cheese, Peaches, and Almond-Tarragon Pesto recipe.