Over the past weekend, I cooked more goat. After all, I’d bought about 4 pounds of fresh goat meat last Monday night. We had the chops on Tuesday night and there were a few leftover ones – which we ate a couple days later since Rory asked for a brief respite. Surprisingly, the grilled goat chops were just as lovely as when we first ate them hot off the fire. I usually can’t touch leftover grilled lamb as next-day lanolin (rich fat in wool-producing animals) overwhelms me. There’s nothing such as goat-o-lin, right?
So after the chops were gone, I went on to make goat curry – a very popular and typical Vietnamese preparation. There are several approaches possible as you can use water, coconut milk, white wine, and goat milk as the liquid for cooking the goat. I bought a quart of goat milk and took a swig but it was wayyy too goaty for me. It’s funny, but I love goat cheese, but not the plain milk. I think I’ll make some fresh goat cheese with the milk.
Using wine seemed too French of an approach so I stuck with coconut milk and a little water. Vietnamese goat curries are usually flavored by lemongrass, garlic, ginger, onion and a Madras-style curry powder, but I opted to add an extra sweetness of toasted coriander seeds, black peppercorns, and some fresh chiles. To tenderize the meat and cut down on cooking time (people traditionally had limited amounts of firewood!), the goat is marinated in the seasoning paste. Raw onion and ginger are great for breaking down tough muscle fibers.
Then it’s just a matter of searing the meat, cooking the paste (I scrape off excess paste before searing), and adding the liquid ingredients and settling into a good hour’s worth of simmering. A couple of waxy boiling potatoes are added for good flavor toward the end; use red or white potatoes as they remain firm after cooking and don't mush out. When all the cooking is finished, I add a small reserved amount of coconut milk to impart a sweet creamy finish. If you simmer all the coconut milk at the front end, it’s fine but finishing it with some rounds thing out in an elegant fashion. I served the curry with lemongrass infused rice and we gobbled a fair amount up.
Goat Curry with Coriander and Lemongrass
With all the time involved in marinating and cooking the curry, make it a day in advance. It actually improves with age. My favorite commercial curry powder is made by Sun Brand, but you can opt for a homemade blend or a store-bought combination. As with the grilled goat chops recipe, it’s fine to substitute boneless lamb leg or shoulder for the goat meat.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 hefty stalks lemongrass, trimmed and chopped
2-inch section fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 to 3 Thai or Serrano chiles, chopped, optional
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder, Sun Brand preferred
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 1/4 pounds boneless goat leg or shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
About 6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup plus 2/3 cup coconut milk
2 large white or red boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Lime wedges, optional
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns, for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer to an electric mini chopper and grind to a dusty but slightly coarse texture. (If you want it super fine, use a dry, clean electric coffee grinder.)
Add the lemongrass and process to a fine texture. Then add the ginger, garlic, onion, chiles, curry powder and fish sauce. Process to a paste, stopping the machine to scrape down the side as needed. Transfer the seasoning paste to a bowl.
2. Add the goat, tossing and turning well to coat all pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 to 2 hours.
3. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. In batches, sear the goat pieces, about 2 minutes for each batch. Before adding the goat, scrape off any excess paste that seems to make the goat look overly fuzzy. Just deposit the paste back in the bowl. You’ll use it soon. Set the seared goat on a plate as you finish searing and add additional oil as needed.
4. When the goat has all been seared, lower the heat to medium, and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil and the leftover paste and liquid in the marinade bowl. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan to add to the paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until it no longer smells raw.
Return the goat, give things a big stir, then add the 1 cup coconut milk and enough water to cover the goat. Adjust the heat to simmer, covered, for about 1 1/4 hours, or until the goat is tender firm. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.
5. Uncover, add the potatoes, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the goat and potatoes are tender. Add the remaining 2/3 cup coconut milk to lend a creamy finish. Heat gently through, then turn off the heat. Let the curry sit for 20 minutes to consolidate its flavor. (You can let it cool, partially covered, and then refrigerate overnight, if you like.) Serve in a bowl with a garnish of chopped cilantro. Enjoy with lots of rice, squirting some fresh lime juice on if the curry is too spicy hot or if you want a bright citrus note.