Jen Walter, our guest blogger this week, lives in NYC with her hubby Willy and their three omnivorous kids in an apartment the size of a breadbox, in a neighborhood that holds the Eggroll and Eggcream Festival, in a city that boasts more than 4,000 restaurants. Still, they order take-out from the same five places.
The email read simply: “Goat? Sunday.”
Some friends you go out for drinks with. Some friends you meet for coffee. Other friends say, "Let's butcher a goat." And you say, "Of course." And in the future, I’ll know to ask, “Should I bring the hacksaw?”
I’m a food lover but by no means a stunt eater.
My husband, Willy, is braver but has been brought down by many a global streetcart. My only line-item rejection is organ meat. I didn’t know I would need another line to reject tartar raw.
|Willy and Goat.|
Our goat—the night’s centerpiece, party favor, ice-breaker—was one of three slaughtered the week before by our hosts, Pete and Heather, and hung for a week in an undisclosed location nearby. While we hadn’t made the guest list for the slaughter, their colorful account—including the bolt gun, the variations on throat-slitting, the carcass inflation, and the hide-stripping—made us feel like we had. There is, apparently, more than one way to skin a goat.
|Adam and his tools.|
While Adam reduces Goat 1 from a Golden Retriever–sized, stiff-legged (and surprisingly dry) body to a couple of coolers of good cuts, a bowl of stock bones, and a scant amount of waste, Chef (and ice cream savant) Billy Barlow works in the kitchen behind him transforming Goats 2 and 3 into a series of delicious “goat-themed” appetizers and dinner courses—and even dessert, a culinary challenge of barnyard proportions.
As the first appetizer touched down on the edge of the counter with the adjacent goat still looking very much like a complete animal minus a head, feet and skin, I face my first-ever taste of goat.
I’ve never had goat because I am afraid it’s gamey, like lamb. Goat meat is lower in fat than chicken, higher in protein than beef. I should be curious, but I’m terrified there’ll be mayonnaise in this meal, which is a total deal breaker. I don’t even like cheese. Or white food. In the presence of a group of foodies, farmers, and chefs, I am the Weakest Link. You can tell because I’m nervous, and my jokes are flat. They’re all jovial, good with knives, menu planning, brining.
|Unsure crowd reaction.|
A little goat meatball amuse bouche, plumped with goat milk and served in a wide spoon, is my inaugural taste. I have to steel myself as if awaiting a stiff blow, but it’s... good. Tangy. Not overwhelming. That, with a glass of chilled sweet port. Two firsts.
|"Negimaki" close to carcass.|
as my pinkie, and a sash of “Negimaki” meat wrapped around
a sake-compressed Fuji apple—are delicious. Really, dipping
sauce is the key.
I relax. The wine, the conversation, the butcher now kneeling on
the counter to unhinge various joints, swapping saws, knives, and sharpening stones. This is casual. We always do this, right? Stand around in someone’s kitchen, cracking jokes, drinking sherry, manhandling a carcass?
|The most popular dish, Kitfo, that I would not try.|
I wuss out. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I draw that line at raw, pink, hand-minced goat meat, crumbly like taco meat.
Obviously, this is then the most popular dish of the night. People are apologizing for digging back in and mmm-ing and throwing elbows to get another spoonful. I’m half irritated at them for liking it so much, half mad at myself for not being able to just dive in. Willy says, “I don’t want to eat anything else all night.”
Left out and sour, I revive for the salad course: mixed chicories with goat bacon, young goat cheese, and warm mustard-anchovy vinaigrette. Honestly, it’s the first anchovy of my life as well.
|Cool-ass Billy and the entree.|
For the entrée, the baby carrots and brussels sprouts roasted in goat fat are a rich, hearty hit. I like the scorched leg meat hit with a blowtorch, because I like the taste of char. Delicious. And that salsa! Almost like a garlicky chimichurri. I used the serving spoon to skim nearly all of it off the communal platter and serve myself.
The finale: Pink Lady Apple Hand Pie with goat fat pastry crust and goat’s milk caramel. The ice cream—phenomenal organic Blue Marble vanilla—did not have goat in it.
|My favorite dish.|
|Or this. Blue Marble Organic Ice Cream, |
made by Billy Barlow, without goat.
Safe to say, we were as satisfied and stuffed as petting zoo goats. Maybe as swollen. Even the laughter had a little goat in it.
Grilled Goat Tacos (tenderized goat shoulder marinated in chilies, citrus and onion served with a pequin chili/charred scallion/pickled ramp/pumpkin seed salsa)
La Lot Goat Sausage (goat sausage seasoned with ginger, garlic, fish sauce and palm sugar, wrapped in Thai basil leaves, steamed then grilled, served with nuoc cham)
Goat Tenderloin “Negimaki” (goat tenderloin butterflied and wrapped around butternut squash and sake-compressed fuji apple, served with soy-sake dipping sauce)
Goat Loin “Kitfo” (hand-minced, cured goat loin warmed in berbere spiced goat butter and topped with crispy shallots and sliced birdseye chili)
Salad Course: Mixed chicories (chicory, red endive, radicchio) with goat bacon, young goat cheese and a warm mustard-anchovy vinaigrette
Pasta Course: Garganelli with a “nose-to-tail” ragu of goat cheek, tongue, heart, liver, kidney and tail. Garnished with crispy sage, smoked and aged goat gouda, and a goat brain foam
Main Course: Long bone rack of “old goat” (the 7 year old) cooked sous vide and blowtorched. Charcoal rotisserie fermented goat leg. Baby carrots and brussels sprouts roasted in goat fat. Salsa verde
Dessert: Pink Lady Apple Hand Pie with goat fat pastry crust and goat’s milk caramel.