I recently participated in a movement, No Goat Left Behind, headed by my good friend Patrick Martins. Patrick, through his company Heritage Foods USA is also one of my meat purveyors. I buy all of my bacon from Patrick (I use alot in my lobster cobb salad and lobster sandwich at lunch). I also buy Oceana's Thanksgiving turkeys from him.
The mission of No Goat Left Behind is to help local dairy goat farmers develop a market for their male dairy goats. Check out the details at http://www.heritagefoodsusa.com/ventures/goat.html
When Patrick called me, explained the program, and asked me to buy two goats a week for each of two weeks I asked him what he was smoking and if he forgot that Oceana was a seafood restaurant. (I think that Nick Livanos and Paul McLaughlin must have been thingking the same of me when I told them I was putting goat on the menu). Patrick then laid on the "oh well, I thought a great chef like you would be able to figure out what to do...". Never one to back away from a challenge, I told him I'd take one goat and see how it went. Yes I now specialize in fish but I have to say I'm a good meat cook and have had extensive experience with whole animals in my time at Tabla and Union Square Cafe.
The whole goat arrives in my kitchen.
I decided to make two dishes: a composed main course and a pasta appetizer. I proceeded to break down the animal into primal cuts. The twelve inch scimitar in the top of the picture comes in handy for that. Broke it down into head, neck, shoulder/foreshank, rib, saddle or loin, and hindleg.
The goat broken into primal cuts.
For the composed dish, I gave the shoulder a dry rub with salt, pepper and maple sugar, lightly cured it then hot-smoked it. I reserved the foreshank for confit, to be described later. I cut the hindshank off the hindleg on the bandsaw and reserved this for confit as well, then cut the remaining leg into the individual muscles then portioned them individually into little "roasts". The rib was fashioned into chops (looked kind of like mini lamb chops) and the loin was cut into loin chops with the loin eye and tenderloin (like mini T-bones or Porterhouses). I also cut the "county rib" out of the shoulder, this is a great cut recently "discovered" and consists of the first three ribs and rib eye muscle that normally remain in the shoulder. Using the bandsaw, I cut the neck into pieces kind of like you'd cut oxtail and reserved them for confit. I removed the prized kidney fat and ground it along with all the other bits of fat from the animal, then rendered them down to produce liquid lamb fat in which I would then confit, or slow-cook, the shanks and neck, just like you'd make duck confit.
The neck and shanks salted and ready for confit
The liquified rendered goat fat. Mmm good.
Each finished dish would get a piece of grilled leg and a roast piece of rib or loin chop, accompanied by a salad inspired by the classic bistro duck confit salad - frisee, fines herbes, apple and radishes tossed with the tender meat from the smoked shoulder and confit neck and shank which had been pulled off the bone. The salad was dressed in a maple vinaigrette, mirroring the maple in the smoked shoulder. The dish was sauced at the table with a rich goat jus made from simmering the bones with some Vin d'Arbois, an oxidized white wine from the Jura region of France, which would give the sauce a nice tang. The sauce was rounded out as well with a touch of maple syrup. The salad was garnished with some shaved Coach Farm aged goat cheese. The dish ate really well.
The finished plate. To the left, a loin chop. To the right, the sliced grilled leg. Salad to the rear. The plate was sauced tableside.
I cut the cheeks off the head and reserved the flank meat and all the other little bits left after portioning to make a rich Italian style meat ragu for the pasta dish. I added the diced heart, tongue, kidneys, liver and sweetbreads to the ragu. I then made homemade chickpea flour cavatelli which was cooked and tossed with the goat ragu and finished with some of the grated aged Coach farm goat stick.
We did complete justice with respect to our goat, using absolutely every last bit. Oh - I forgot about the the brain, which we extracted by cutting off the top of the skull with the bandsaw. We saved that morsel for the kitchen crew - sauteed it in butter and drizzled it with a little brown butter and lemon. Fantastic.
That left me to explain the dishes to our waitstaff and encourage them to point out the goat on the menu. I was not quite sure what to expect, being a seafood restaurant after all. To my pleasant surprise, we sold out of the composed dish halfway through dinner service and sold out of all the pasta by the next day.
The best part of this mission was having the opportunity to demonstrate butchering a whole animal to my cooks, many of whom had not seen this before and obviously do not see it often here. We break down hundreds of pounds of whole fish every day but this was a treat. I don't think Patrick is going to have to cajole me too hard next time.