Slow-Roasted Goat Tacos

I brought too much cash to the farmers market, that was the problem. If I hadn’t been carrying around more than twice what I usually bring, I wouldn’t have felt flush enough to consider buying meat from the vendor who sells pork, lamb, rabbit and goat alongside his excellent carrots and spinach. But it happened: I bought a goat leg. It was expensive.

It was a pretty big goat leg, to be sure. And I was excited about cooking goat for the first time. With with a third fewer calories than beef and half the saturated fat of chicken, goat is healthy, and because the animals live on pasture cows don’t like, it is also a sustainable meat choice. But this leg was definitely a luxury, and as I walked away with it, I thought, This better be the best damn leg I’ve ever eaten.

Goats, rangy little creatures that they are, do well when moist-roasted, which keeps the meat from being tough. An overnight marinade infuses the meat with flavor and further tenderizes it. I will fully admit I had no idea how my goat leg would turn out while I was making it. A thread about cooking goat made me realize I didn’t know if I was dealing with a comparatively tender young kid or a gamey old nanny goat. (The label said simply “GOAT LEG.”)

Goblin likes goat legs too.

But after three hours of slow-roasting, I dared taste a shred of meat. It was tender and tasted a little like lamb, but with a deeper, richer flavor and none of the gameyness I expected. I knew I had a winner. And probably a kid, not a nanny.

I served it shredded, alongside soft corn tortillas and all the taco truck fixings, for Rob and a couple friends, all goat newbies. We polished off almost all of it, to cries of “So tender!” “So good!”

I’m happy to report it was the best damn leg I’ve ever eaten.


Slow-Roasted Goat Tacos

Yield: 4 generous servings

{ Ingredients }

For the goat:
3-pound goat leg
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground coffee
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
5 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 onion, roughly chopped
Black pepper

For the tacos:
12-15 corn tortillas
Optional toppings:
Cilantro, chopped
Crumbled queso fresco
Pickled red onions
Lime wedges

{ Directions }

The night before cooking the goat, in a medium bowl whisk the vinegar, coffee, sugar, salt, cinnamon and cumin until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add ½ cup oil, garlic, bay leaves, onion and pepper to taste. Place the goat in a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over, rubbing to make sure all surfaces are covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turning once.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove the goat from the marinade and pat dry. Don't toss out the marinade -- you'll be using it.

Heat a dutch oven on the stove over a high flame until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons oil and brown the goat on both sides. Remove from the pot and set aside. Pour the marinade into the pot and bring to a boil. Put the goat and any accumulated juices back into the pot, cover, and place in the oven. Bake, basting occasionally, for 3 - 3½ hours, or until the meat is tender and pulls easily from the bone.

Let the goat cool in the cooking liquid until cool enough to handle. Remove from the pot and strain the liquid into a measuring cup or jar, discarding the solids. Using two forks and your hands, shred the meat, discarding any fat or gristle. Spoon off as much fat as possible from the cooking liquid and pour the remaining juices over the shredded meat.

Serve immediately or keep covered in the refrigerator. To reheat, warm covered in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes.

To assemble the tacos, heat the tortillas one at a time in a hot skillet until warm and pliable, about 15-30 seconds per side. Cover and keep warm as you heat the remaining tortillas. Serve the goat alongside the tortillas and toppings, and let everyone build their own tacos.

Additional Notes:
• Look for goat meat at farmers markets, specialty butcher shops or ethnic markets specializing in halal, Mexican, Indian or Greek food.



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