Food historian believe that goats were among the earliest animal domesticated, along with sheep and dogs. Cave art depicting goats dates back 10,000 to 20,000 years. Goat meat currently provides most of the animal protein for people in North African and Middle Eastern nations. The meat is also prized by people in the Caribbean, in Southeast Asia, Mexico, and in developing tropical countries.
Goat meat is extremely lean and low in fat. A 3-ounce portion of roasted goat meat (analyzed by the USDA) contains 122 calories, 3 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein, 3.3 mg of iron, and 64 milligrams of cholesterol. Compared to conventional beef, goat meat contains 50 to 65% less fat.
A friend and I decided we would grill goat meat for 4th of July weekend. I agreed to get the meat and marinate it. He agreed to pick up the vegetables for the kabobs and the side dishes. I would bring Ice Dream with chocolate and caramel sauce for dessert.
I called the people who were raising and selling it, found out about their operation, and confirmed that they would be at the Scottsdale market throughout the summer (some farmers stop selling at the market from July to September).
Photo credit: Chef Rachel Albert ©2010
Jannie and Eddie Key have a small farm in Eloy—about an hour outside of Phoenix. The couple started with cattle then found out about goats and decided to switch because not many people were raising goats. After checking around they discovered that the halal markets in the valley were relying on goat meat from New Zeland, Australia, and Africa. They wanted to provide locally grown meat to the valley residents.
They both have regular jobs and raise the goats in the spare time they have. The’ve been raising goats for three years now. They have a herd of about 100 goats that they raise on pasture (no grain). They raise and breed the goats themselves. They own the bucks and the does. They don’t use antibiotics or growth hormones. The only shot the goats get is a tetanus shot when they ear tag them. The goats eat alfalfa raised without herbicides or pesticides.
They butcher the goats at 9 months of age; that keeps the meat from being tough. Every three months they slaughter four to six goats, depending upon the demand. They have the meat cut, packaged, and frozen, and then they sell it at the Scottsdale Old Town & Scottsdale Stadium Markets and Ahwatukee Farmers’ Markets.
The goat I got!
Jannie gave me some recipes for cooking goat meat that she found on line. I picked up three pounds of ground goat, a leg and arm roast (to cut into chunks for kabobs), and a six ounce goat steak.
For 4th of July I marinated the goat meat in a mixture of onion juice, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, and paprika. We threaded meat on bamboo skewers (soaked in water to keep them from burning) with onions, sweet bell peppers, pineapple, and mushrooms.
I used a recipe for Persian Lamb Kebabs with Minted Pilaf, omitted the rice-based pilaf and I changed the vegetables that we threaded on the kebabs. Photo credit: Chef Rachel Albert ©2010We served the kabobs with my Quinoa Tabouli and a side of sautéed kale with onions, and ginger. For dessert we had Vanilla Ice Dream and Pumpkin Ice Dream with homemade Caramel Sauce and Karly’s Cocoa Sauce (recipes from my most recent book, The Ice Dream Cookbook).
The next week I made a take off on Lamb Kafta Kabobs. A kafta or kofta is a Middle Eastern and Indian meatball made from ground meat (usually lamb) and spices. After the meat is mixed with herbs and spices, cooks often form it into a long hot-dog shape and grill it on skewers although I’ve roasted and grilled it on a baking sheet in the oven. My friend, Steven, suggested I call the kaftas made from goat meat Gaftas! I served them with baked, mashed sweet potato seasoned with ginger juice and butter.
The following week I made herbed goat burgers. I added an egg to bind the meat, finely ground sea salt, black pepper, yellow mustard, chopped green onions, and pressed garlic. Since the meat was locally produced by a small farmer and 100% grassfed (dropping the risk of Ecoli infection to an almost undetectable level) I left it a little rare in the middle. Serve with baked or roasted, sweet potato or yams or oven fried sweet potatoes with a side salad or blanched vegetables with a dressing or dip.
Photo credit: Chef Rachel Albert ©2010Goat steak
The same week I seasoned the goat steak with tamari soy sauce and gluten-free fish sauce and seared it in a skillet in warm bacon fat, then served it with lime juice and blanched vegetables. The steak cooked quickly because it was only about a quarter to third of an inch thick. I cooked it medium-rare to keep it from drying out. I thought this cut had a milder flavor than the shoulder and leg cuts I used for the kebabobs.
Cooking tips for goat
Any time you’re working with grassfed meat or wild game you have to be careful to avoid overcooking. Leaner meat cooks faster because it has very little insulation (fat). It’s best to use a lower temperature for this meat and to add moisture in cooking.
When you’re cooking it in the oven or on the grill you’ll find goat meat more tender if you marinate it and if baste it during cooking. Stewing and braising also work. The recipe I used for 4th of July suggested marinating for 12 hours. I only marinated it for 7 or 8 hours; I think it would have been more tender with several more hours of soaking. I would also try using some wine or red wine vinegar in the marinade to soften the meat and I would baste with oil before and during cooking.
When cooking ground goat in a skillet, add some fat to keep it moist. Good fats include ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, non-hydrogenated palm shortening, lard, and bacon fat. Photo credit: Chef Rachel Albert ©2010
If you’re grilling goat, preheat the grill on high, then turn it down to medium-low after you place it on the grill grates. Turn it often and baste it for best results.
How does it taste?
Some might call the flavor of goat meat gamey. If you’ve never tried it and you’re accustomed to eating only grain-fed meat, you might initially find the taste of this and other 100% grassfed meats strong. If, however, you’re used to grassfed meat or wild game, you’ll probably like it from the first bite. Whatever the case, your tastes can change and over time you may find the taste of grain-fed meat bland by comparison. I would buy it and cook it again.
Don’t be shy, give goat a try! If you live in the Phoenix Metro area, try Circle Key Goat meat and let me know what you think by posting a comment below.
Where can buy Circle Key Goat Meat?
Scottsdale Downtown's Old Town Farmers’ Market
Brown and 1st Street
Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Season: October 23 through end of May
Scottsdale Stadium Market
7408 E. Osborn Road in downtown Scottsdale (Osborn & Drinkwater)
Saturday 8 a.m. to noon
Season: June through August
Ahwatukee Farmers Market
4700 E. Warner
9 a.m. to 2 p.m., summer hours 8 a.m. to noon
Gafta Kabobs (Ground Goat Kafta Kebabs)
Prep: 15 minutes Cooking: 6 to 12 minutes Yield: Serves 4
This is a very old recipe from Morocco. (I changed the name, omitted the bread used for binding and scaled the recipe to suit a single pound of meat.)
Photo credit: Chef Rachel Albert ©2010Ingredients:
1 pound ground goat meat
1/2 cup finely minced green onion/scallion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 medium to large egg
1 teaspoon garam masala spice blend
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon finely ground unrefined sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
1/16th teaspoon ground cloves
2 fresh green chiles (such as Anaheim) minced; I subbed 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle, optional
1 to 2 tablespoons bacon fat, ghee, coconut oil, or unrefined or virgin-pressed avocado or olive oil
1. Break the meat apart and spread it in the bottom of a medium size mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the onion, cilantro, egg, garam masala, cumin, sea salt pepper, cloves, and optional green chile or chipotle. Whisk to combine then pour over meat.
2. Mix with a large fork or clean bare hands pulling apart rather than squeezing and packing the meat to evenly distribute the seasonings. (Use disposable gloves if you like.) Do not over mix. Shape into 8 pieces, then press and form into cylinders (they should look like hot dogs but be about half as long).
3. To sauté: Heat the fat or oil in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the meat pieces and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning 3 times, until the same color throughout (well-done) or just slightly pink in the center (medium-rare).
To grill: Cook over a medium hot grill for approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side or to desired doneness, turning twice.
To simmer: Bring 1/2 cup water to boil in a 12-inch skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil if desired. Add the shaped meat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the same color throughout (well-done) or just slightly pink in the center (medium-rare).
4. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers. Freeze any leftovers you don’t plan to to use within 3 days.
* Shape the meat into 1-ounce or 1-inch meatballs. Cook in a skillet as directed above in broth or oil. Watch the cooking time. Meatballs cook fast. Figure about 8 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
Serve over or next to a crisp green salad or a sauteed or blanched vegetable medley. Roasted, baked, or grilled veggies would also go well with this. Alternatively, you could serve goat meatballs with red sauce over spaghetti squash, steamed spinach, or over brown rice pasta with a salad or other cooked leafy green or mixed veggies on the side.