Goat meat is not one that we are traditionally or historically associated with here in Ireland. Commonly used in African, Middle Eastern and South American cuisines it’s not culturally a meat that many of us are familiar with, no less tasted. Having eaten it a number of times but not prepared or cooked with it I bit the proverbial hand off a friend of mine who offered me some, intrigued as I was. Although its reputation precedes it as having a taste akin to lamb much depends on the length of time the goat has lived. The longer the life of the goat the stronger and gamier the flavour of the meat becomes indeed making it more like lamb.
Leg of goat
These goats from Goat Ireland, a small goat farm run by Paul and Ami in Dunmore, Galway, generally finish around 6 to 8 months producing a meat that is soft and tender, with a mild sweet delicateness and it’s own unique flavour profile. I had a leg to cook with so immediately my mind went to the arena of slow cooking and to cuisines with a long-standing history of cooking with this meat. Goat is a beautiful underused meat with a delicate flavour yet robust enough to embrace the Moroccan spices of this tagine. Incidentally a tagine is actually the name of the conical shaped earthenware dish that stews like this would be traditionally cooked in but has now also become synonymous with this method of slow cooking a stew. If you own one by all means use it here but a regu that The oven does all the work for you hear so make sure you give yourself enough time. Alternatively this tastes even better the following day so make now for tomorrow.
Spices such as cumin, coriander, and cinnamon work really well in this Moroccan style stew
- 1kg of goat meat (leg or shoulder) cut into approx. 1inch chunks (Alternatively of course you can easily substitute lamb into this dish)
- 2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil (and more for frying the goat meat)
- 2 onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2tsp coriander seeds
- 3tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp picante paprika
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1 chicken stock cube (I use Knorr stockpots)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- A handful of dried apricots, halved, and soaked in water for about 30 minutes
Apricots and chickpeas add extra texture and depth of flavour
- Preheat the oven to 160°C Fan, 350°F, Gas Mark 4
- Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and black peppercorns to a cold pan over a high heat. Heat for a couple of minutes until lightly toasted and add to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar along with the other ground spices and sea salt flakes. Grind to a fine powder.
- Season the goat well with sea salt and fry in batches, for a few minutes each, to brown the meat. Set aside.
- Heat the rapeseed oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a high heat and add the onion. Reduce the heat to low and slowly cook the onion for about 10 minutes until translucent but not coloured. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further minute or two.
- Add the browned goat meat to the casserole dish before adding the spices, tinned tomatoes, chicken stockpot and honey. Fill one of the empty tins of tomatoes with water and add to the pot. Stir together and bring to a gentle boil on the hob before covering with the lid and placing in the preheated oven.
- Leave to cook gently in the oven for 2 ½ hours. Carefully remove from the oven adding the apricots and the chickpeas. Place back in the oven for a further 30 minutes.
- Serve with couscous and some thick natural yoghurt.
Ideal communal dish for a crowd