It was my first time out of the house for what felt like a year, and I was hungry and frustrated and wanting a whole bunch of my old life back. I also happened to be standing in front of the freezer at Critchfield’s Meats.
I’d gone to this darling butcher to pick up veal shanks for osso bucco and beef bones to make stock. Having found these items within minutes, I despaired at the thought that this precious errand was over, and it was time to head back home. So I decided, on a whim, to buy some other stuff too. Stuff I couldn’t get in Somerset. Stuff that would push me as a cook. And make me feel less trapped.
So I grabbed sweetbreads. And blood sausage. And then found myself considering turtle meat. Yeesh, was I that brave? I thought of the lovely specimens I see crossing the road and decided I was not. But I needed something. Something I hadn’t tried.
And then I saw the goat.
It was packaged neatly in precut cubes and sold for $6.99 a pound. I could make a curry. We could pretend we were in Jamaica. I picked up four pounds and headed to the cashier.
Those four pounds of goat sat in the freezer for about five months. Each time I opened the freezer door, I couldn’t make eye contact with the bags because every time I thought of goat, I winced. What the heck had I been thinking? I didn’t know how to cook goat. Also, goats are adorable. When they’re sucking on a bottle in a barn with their little baby horns? Come on. Ridiculous.
But a few weeks ago, something needed to be done. On another whim, I ordered food from Goldbelly and needed space in the freezer if I was going to house any of it.
So, it was time. Time for goat.
I did some research and found a recipe that seemed interesting. It had you create your own curry mixture, which not only meant I could casually tell William I had “bloomed spices,” it also meant I could use my super-duper spice grinder. The recipe wanted you to marinate the meat in the spices, onions, garlic and oil the night before, and then cook it the next day.
That next day, I took out the goat from the fridge and decided the meal was going to be delicious. I set my Dutch oven on low and poured the meat into it.
Now. Did I hear some soft tinkling — like sugar cubes landing in a teacup — when I poured the meat into the pot? Interestingly, I did. But I poured water over the mixture and tried to think of Jamaica.
Two hours later, I peeled three large potatoes, cubed them and dropped them in the mix. The recipe had said to do this at the beginning, but I decided that surely this was a mistake; the potatoes would be mush after three hours. So I used my best judgment.
An hour after that, William surfaced from the basement and said dinner smelled great. Thinking on it, I bet it did. The recipe had made me grind about $50 worth of spices to make that curry and it doesn’t take a lot of allspice to make everything smell like magic.
When we sat down to dinner, I tried to speak in a Jamaican accent to set an islandy atmosphere. William laughed uncomfortably (he’s not big on cultural appropriation) at what a failure it was and then picked up his fork.
I took a big glug of wine and tried not to think of fluffy kids galloping in a field. I closed my eyes and took a bite. And immediately my teeth hit bone.
I looked over and William, too, was wrestling his way through his bite, a bite that ultimately ended with not one but two bones coming out of this mouth.
“What cut is this?” he asked.
“Cubed,” I said. “The cut is cubed.”
Very quickly, we realized where there wasn’t bone, there was the gristliest meat we’d every encountered. If we’d been dining on shoe leather, that would have been one thing. But the stretchy, globular nature of this meat was something else. At one point my teeth lost their grip as I tried to pry it off the bone and the meat, I mean, it sprung back and punched me in the face.
In the meantime, the potatoes? They were still raw. The kind of raw, in fact, where we could have easily stuck a couple of wires into a chunk, tossed a penny into the mix and made a lightbulb.
William looked at me and I looked at him and I chugged my wine.
“How many pounds again?”
Now, William Baker has a strict policy of not letting meat go to waste in our house. Being reminded of that, we both looked over at that giant Dutch oven and imagined what the rest of our week was going to look like. One thing was sure: we were going to lose some weight.
Chewing alone burned calories.
Alas, I share the experience because I feel it has a conclusion that will benefit others. If you want to eat goat? Do it in Jamaica.