More than 70% of the red meat eaten globally is goat, but in the U.S., it just isn’t popular. Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, authors of Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Apr.), are trying to change that.
What do you say to people whose first reaction to your book is, “Ewww, goat!”
BW: The first thing I ask them is, ‘Have you ever tried it?’ Mostly the response to that is, ‘No, because I think it’s going to be too gamey,’ or ‘Yes, and it’s too gamey.’ My answer to that is: goat meat shouldn’t be gamey. Good goat meat is mild, sweet, and tender. If you have had it and said it wasn’t good, it probably wasn’t cooked properly, or you had a very old goat which can be strong and gamey, or you were served meat from a dairy goat, which is not really meant for eating.
MS: Meat goats, dairy goats, and wool goats are different breeds altogether and rarely cross-purpose. And there are restaurants that will cheap out and buy dairy goats as a cheap meat source, in Caribbean and African countries.
If people have had goat in the U.S., and didn’t like it, do you think that’s because the person who served it didn’t know what they were doing?
MS: Goat really is still the Wild West. There are few standardizations; the USDA is just vaguely involved. We tell the story about buying goat locally [in Connecticut], and we took one bite of this ground goat and [knew it was off]. It turned out the butcher was grinding the liver with the meat.
BW: He said he didn’t think anyone would notice. Now, he was a dairy goat farmer, so in that respect he didn’t know much…
MS: Yesterday we came across an interesting statistic problem. The USDA is claiming we’re at about a million goats slaughtered in the US. But goat meat association websites will tell you three million are slaughtered each year. So some of the goats that are being slaughtered are not going to approved slaughterhouses.
So the goat meat industry is largely unregulated?
BW: Yes. But when you take a look at factory farming for cows, pigs, and chickens, the impact on the planet is huge, from the waste products to the pesticides and everything else used in the food grown for them, to the hormones and antibiotics that are fed to them. Goats, despite the fact that they are the most eaten meats around the world, are still a cottage industry. There are no goat factory farms.
Where have you seen goat on the menu in the U.S.?
MS: In East Indian restaurants and Korean restaurants. There’s one restaurant in Boston where the menu is almost totally goat.
BW: We found it in a Greek restaurant in San Francisco. Mostly you’ll see it as one dish or a special. That’s a great way to get people to try it. I don’t see it as often as I like but I’m beginning to see it more and more, and at more farm-to-table restaurants.
MS: Where it isn’t currently is in the middle.
BW: You’re not going to find it at Applebee’s, Chili’s, or Outback.
MS: We think that goat hasn’t really hit the suburban American shopper, no matter that person’s ethnicity. It’s hit a lot of urbanites and a lot of country people at this point.
What’s a good starter recipe from your book for someone who’s never cooked goat before?
BW: One of the roasted legs, perhaps even the seven-hour leg. I know that sounds scary but you don’t do much. You baste it every once in a while and you end up with a sweet, tender, falling-off-the-bone meat.
Will goat be appearing in your WeightWatchers.com column anytime soon?
BW: To figure out the points value of any food you’re going to eat [on WW], you go into their database. I would be shocked if goat wasn’t there. Walrus is in there! They try and allow for all sorts of different cultures to allow their plan. But given the readership of our column I don’t think goat is going to be popular. Let’s be honest: most goat cuts are long-stewing cuts, and our experience is people want quick stuff.
MS: Bruce made a really good chicken-fried goat recently, but that’s not a Weight Watchers recipe. But it’s awful good.