Photo by John D. Ivanko/farmsteadchef.com
Mairi Doerr’s history with goats runs deep and wide. She made goat cheese commercially for many years and today raises meat goats and introduces these animated animals to guests at Dancing Winds Farmstay in southwestern Minnesota. We had the pleasure of experiencing Dancing Winds when Doerr hosted one of Lisa’s In Her Boots women-farmer workshops.
"I love raising goats because they are so full of personality, smart, very sociable, entertaining to observe and just plain fun,” says Doerr, as she attends to her evening barn chores. She currently raises African Boer goats for meat. The breed is mostly white in color with darker heads and pendulous ears. During her goat cheese-making days, she also raised a variety of dairy goats, including Saanens, goats of Norwegian origin that are known as the "Holsteins of the goat world.”
Doerr is on a mission to help increase interest in and awareness of the benefits of goat meat.
"Goat meat, which is properly known as ‘chevon,’ is very undervalued here in the United States,” Doerr explains. "However, goats are very sustainable animals to raise on a wide variety of forage and land types. It’s also a very healthy meat for you and beats pork, lamb, beef and even chicken, as goat meat is significantly lower in calories, saturated fat and even cholesterol.”
But it’s the taste that really helps Doerr to get folks to try goat meat.
"Goat meat tastes amazing, especially when it is slow cooked in a moist heat like a Crock Pot,” she says. "You can also pan-roast goat chops with raspberries and sage, fry goat burgers and top with a locally made AmaBlu cheese, enjoy a delicious goat roast, or make a delicious stew on a cold fall night.” Looking for a local source for goat meat? Many food co-ops now access goat meat through local producers now that demand and interest is growing.
This recipe for a Spanish-inspired leg of goat is a New Year’s Eve tradition at Dancing Winds, prepared by Mary’s partner, Chef Sue Nielsen.
"It turns non-believers into believers of goat meat,” Doerr proclaims.
Recipe: Chef Sue’s Leg of Goat
Inspired by Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese (Stewart, Tabon & Change, 2011), by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 T. fresh oregano (or 2 tsp. dried)
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided (or to taste)
- 1 4-pound leg of goat
- 4½ cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned and drained)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 4 cups cooked chickpeas
- 2 cups dry sherry
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. saffron threads (Soak in small bowl with 1 T. hot water for 10 minutes.)
- 2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a food processor, blend garlic, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a paste. Spread mixture on surface of goat leg.
In a large roasting pan, mix all remaining ingredients. Add additional black pepper if desired. Place goat leg on top of vegetables and place pan in oven. Roast the meat until very tender and pulls away from bone (approximately 3 to 4 hours).
Savoring the good life,
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