Slow-Cooked Goat Tacos

Goat is fantastic stuff.

I could list any number of excellent arguments for why you should try it. Goat meat is leaner than beef, pork and even chicken. Goats themselves are easy to raise in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways, and most are. Eating locally raised goat meat also supports a small and growing American industry.

But the best reason to try goat is this: It is just so delicious. It tastes like a beefier version of beef and a milder version of lamb (read: less gamey). You can braise it, stew it, roast it or grill it. Cooked slowly and with plenty of spices, goat meat becomes so tender that it literally slips off the bone and onto your fork.

The most common cuts of goat are bone-in stew meat, leg and shoulder, but you can also find the occasional chop or loin cut. Since it's so lean, goat does best when cooked for a long time at a low temperature, giving the tough muscle fibers plenty of time to break down and soften. A marinade also helps infuse goat meat with flavor and tenderize it before cooking.

For recipe ideas, look to the food cultures of Mexico, India and the Middle East, as well as to many parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. Goat has been a major protein source in these places for centuries, and local cooks have many inventive and delicious ways to prepare it. Goat can likewise be substituted in nearly any recipe that calls for lamb.

Above all, don't be intimidated by goat. Next time you spot goat at the store, clear your afternoon and get ready to fill your house with the smells of good cooking. You won't regret it!

This Slow-Cooked Goat Tacos Recipe is adapted from "Goat Tacos" by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn

Ask your butcher to cut the goat into several pieces crosswise through the bone. This makes it easier to fit the goat in the braising dish and shortens cooking time. If you don't have this option, it's fine to cut the meat into several pieces yourself, working around the bone. Be sure to still add the bone to the pot along with the meat.

Slow-Cooked Goat Tacos Recipe

    Prep Time: 60 minutes

    Cook time: 3 Hours 30 minutes

    Yield: Serves 8 to 10

Slow-Cooked Goat Tacos Ingredients

    3 1/2- to 4-pound bone-in leg of goat, cut into several pieces

    For the marinade:

    1/4 cup cider vinegar

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    4 cloves whole garlic, peeled

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    1 teaspoon cumin

    2 teaspoons kosher salt

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    2 tablespoons tomato paste

    2 tablespoons brown sugar

    1 tablespoon lemon zest from one lemon

    1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

    For the braise:

    1/2 cup chicken or beef broth

    1 bay leaf

    1/4 cup liquid smoke (optional)

    For the tacos:

    24 small corn tortillas

    Goat Taco Toppings: sliced radishes, sliced avocado, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, minced onions and queso fresco

Slow-Cooked Goat Tacos Recipe Instructions

    Pat the goat dry and trim off any large visible pieces of fat and gristle. Put the pieces in a large mixing bowl.

    In a food processor or with a whisk, mix all the marinade ingredients until they form a thick sauce.

    Pour the sauce over the goat, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

    Preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack positioned in the middle.

    Transfer the goat to a Dutch oven or roasting pan (see below for adapting to a slow cooker). Mix the remaining marinade with the braising ingredients and pour over the goat. Cover tightly and cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The goat is ready when the meat offers no resistance when pierced with a fork, falls easily off the bone and flakes apart under gentle pressure.

    Transfer the goat to a clean bowl and pour the braising liquid into a measuring cup. Discard the bay leaf. When the goat is cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred it into pieces. Discard the bones and any pieces of white gristle.

    Degrease the braising liquid. Toss the shredded goat with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the braising liquid, and serve the remainder as a sauce with the tacos. Warm each tortilla for a few seconds in a hot skillet and pile with 1/2 cup of shredded goat and toppings. Serve warm.

    Leftovers can keep refrigerated for up to a week.

    Adapting goat to the slow cooker

    Follow the recipe exactly, but cook the meat in a slow cooker with the lid on for 4 to 6 hours on the HIGH setting or 8 to 10 hours on the LOW setting. You may end up with more sauce than when cooked in an oven; reduce in a saucepan over low heat if desired.

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