How to Cook Goat Meat (And Where to Find It Locally)

Move over lamb! This locally raised meat is a healthy, sustainable — and delicious — choice to serve for Easter or Passover dinner

Goat is the world’s most widely eaten red meat. Really. It accounts for a whopping 70 percent of all red meat consumed around the globe. If that surprised you, you may also raise your eyebrows when I tell you that it’s also remarkably healthy, boasting more protein and iron, and less fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than beef, pork, lamb, and even chicken. And it’s trendy too. Goat is more sustainable than other red meats because goats require less acreage and fewer inputs than cows. Goats browse rather than graze and tend to thrive in overgrown, scrubby land, climbing rock walls, skirting stumps, and happily munching on weeds and bushes, including the invasive multiflora rose that is rapidly choking so many pastures.

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Goats are now being raised by many local farmers, making it a carbon footprint-friendly meat for those of us lucky enough to live here in the Hudson Valley. “It’s one of the most sustainable meats you can get as long as it’s raised right,” says Charlie Bonnin, the startlingly blue-eyed guy behind the counter at Fleisher’s Meats in uptown Kingston.

And then there’s the taste. Contrary to popular belief, baby goat is not gamy. “A lot of people think that goat is the horse meat of the lamb family, but it’s actually got this very pleasing, mild flavor,” says Constantine Kalandranis, chef and owner of 8 North Broadway in Nyack, where goat often shows up on the menu. When I tried goat for the first time, I was surprised to find that it has an appealingly delicate, slightly sweet flavor that is far less distinctive than that of lamb.

Recipe: Yogurt- and Herb-Rubbed Slow-Roasted Leg of Goat

Chef Zakary Pelaccio is also a fan of these strange-eyed creatures and buys the animals whole to give him the freedom to break them down in a variety of ways on the weekly changing menu at Fish & Game in Hudson. “I enjoy cooking and eating almost every part of the goat,” he says.

But you don’t need to be an acclaimed chef to prepare goat. Because goat is so lean, the simplest approach is to cook it slowly at low heat with lots of liquid. The end result will be a delicious, tender meat that pairs beautifully with a whole host of flavors and spices.

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Both Easter and Passover offer a perfect opportunity to give goat a go. “Easter is definitely a big lamb holiday, especially for Greek people like my family. But goat has an even milder, more delicate flavor that goes really well with all the traditional Easter dinner accompaniments like lemony potatoes, tzatziki, and flatbread,” says Kalandranis whose recipe (here) for yogurt and herb-rubbed, slow roasted leg of baby goat makes us drool. Marinating the goat overnight in yogurt tenderizes the meat and infuses it with wonderful flavor.

And although goat is no longer a popular Seder dish, the Bible indicates that Passover was originally celebrated by sacrificing either a sheep or a goat, so there is excellent historical precedence for featuring it in your Seder. If the recipe for roasted leg of goat is not to your taste, consider substituting goat stew meat for beef flanken or brisket in your favorite tzimmes recipe. It will go beautifully with the carrots, sweet potatoes, prunes, apricots, and citrus.

Where to Get Your Goat

The following farms and shops sell goat meat. Call first to ensure that the cut you’re looking for is in stock, as goat is somewhat seasonal. Many of these farms also sell goat at area farmer’s markets.

roasted leg of goat
A leg up: Yogurt- and herb-rubbed, slow-roasted baby goat is a popular dish at Nyack’s 8 North Broadway

Photograph by Roy Gumpel

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