Goat meat, also known as chevon or mutton, is a lean, flavorful type of meat that is used in cuisines around the world. From curries to stews to kebabs, goat meat is versatile and can be used in many different types of dishes.
What is goat meat?
Goat meat comes from domestic goats raised for their meat. It has a distinct, gamey flavor that is different from beef or lamb. Goat meat contains less fat than some other red meats and provides lean protein. There are over 300 different breeds of goat, but some of the most common breeds raised for meat include Boer, Kiko, and Spanish.
What does goat meat taste like?
The flavor of goat meat is said to be similar to a combination of beef and lamb, with a slightly gamey or earthy taste. It is leaner than lamb and beef, but not as lean as white meats like chicken or turkey. The taste can vary depending on the age of the goat, as well as what breed it is and what it was fed. Young, milk-fed goat known as cabrito is the most tender and mild tasting.
Nutritional benefits of goat meat
Here are some of the nutritional benefits of goat meat:
- High in protein – Goat meat is an excellent source of protein. A 3 oz serving provides around 25g protein.
- Lower in fat and calories – Goat meat is much lower in fat and calories compared to beef or lamb. There is about 2.58g fat and 122 calories in 3 oz of cooked goat meat.
- Iron – Goat meat provides iron, with 3 oz containing around 3 mg.
- Other minerals – Goat meat also provides potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
- Vitamin B12 – Goat meat contains vitamin B12, which supports red blood cell formation.
Due to its lean profile, goat meat can be a healthier red meat choice as part of a balanced diet.
What types of goat meat dishes are there?
Goat meat is used in various cuisines around the world. Some of the most common types of goat meat dishes include:
Goat meat is often used in curries in Indian, Caribbean and African cuisines. Some examples include:
- Goat curry – A classic Indian curry made with goat meat, spices like coriander, cumin, garlic and chili peppers and coconut milk.
- Jamaican curry goat – Spicy and robust curry goat stew with carrots, scallions, ginger, thyme and Scotch bonnet peppers.
- West African peanut goat stew – A peanut-based stew with goat meat, sweet potatoes, chili peppers and greens.
Goat meat also works very well in long-simmered stews, imparting a richness to the dish. Examples include:
- Birria – A popular Mexican goat stew made with ancho chiles and a variety of spices.
- Irish goat stew – A hearty stew with goat meat, potatoes, onion, celery and Guinness stout.
- Jamaican oxtail with goat meat – A flavorful stew containing oxtail and goat meat.
Kebabs and skewers
The leanness of goat meat makes it perfect for grilling. It is often skewered and grilled in dishes such as:
- Jerk goat skewers – Goat marinated with Jamaica’s famous jerk spice rub and grilled.
- Greek souvlaki – Goat skewers seasoned with olive oil, lemon, oregano and garlic.
- Goat kebabs – Can be made with various marinades and vegetables like onions, peppers and mushrooms.
Braises and stif-frys
Goat meat also adapts well to quick cooking techniques like braising and stir-frying. Examples include:
- Jamaican brown stew – Browned goat meat braised with scallions, spices, soy sauce and tomatoes.
- Goat tacos – Spiced, braised goat meat served in soft corn tortillas with onion and cilantro.
- Stir-fried goat with vegetables – Sliced goat with bok choy, mushrooms, chili peppers and soy sauce.
In addition to the flavorful curries mentioned above, here are some other curry dishes that use goat meat beautifully:
- Roghan josh – A Kashmiri curry with goat meat, yogurt, fennel and other spices.
- Kuzhambu – A goat meat and tamarind curry from South India.
- Moambe chicken – A coconut curry from Congo that also works well with goat meat.
Grilled and roasted
The lean nature of goat meat makes it excellent for grilling directly over high heat. It also roasts up nicely. Some grilled and roasted goat recipes include:
- Jamaican jerk goat – Goat seasoned with Jamaican jerk spices and grilled over pimento wood.
- Tandoori goat chops – Marinated goat chops roasted in a tandoor oven.
- Herb crusted goat shoulder – Roasted goat shoulder crusted with herbs like rosemary, thyme and garlic.
In addition to birria and oxtail stew, some other delicious goat stews include:
- West African egusi stew – Goat meat stewed with egusi seeds, chili peppers, greens and spices.
- Caribbean goat stew – Made with goat meat, tubers like yam and potato, carrots, onion, garlic and thyme.
- Italian goat ragu – Braised goat simmered into a meaty, tomato-based sauce.
Goat meat stands up exceptionally well to braising. Some more braised goat dishes are:
- Jamaican curry goat – Braised goat in a spicy, coconut-based curry sauce.
- Bo kho – A Vietnamese braise with goat meat, lemongrass, star anise and fish sauce.
- Northern Chinese goat stew – Braised with soy sauce, cinnamon, chili peppers and carrots.
Grilled and kebabs
In addition to souvlaki and jerk skewers, other tasty grilled and skewered goat recipes include:
- Goat satay – Marinated and grilled on skewers, served with a peanut dipping sauce.
- Goat brochettes – Small chunks of goat meat skewered and grilled over an open flame.
- Jalapeño goat pops – Bacon-wrapped goat seasoned with cumin, chili powder and jalapeño.
Tacos and sandwiches
Shredded or chopped goat meat also stars in tacos and sandwich recipes like:
- Goat barbacoa tacos – Shredded spiced goat meat tacos with salsa.
- Jamaican goat roti – Curried goat wrapped in a roti flatbread.
- Grilled goat panini – With provolone cheese, roasted red peppers and pesto.
Goat also works well in all kinds of global cuisine. Some other tasty goat dishes include:
- Jamaican mannish water – Goat head stew with tubers, banana and spices.
- Goat biryani – Layered Indian rice dish cooked with goat meat and spices.
- Goat empanadas – Savory Latin American pastries filled with spiced goat meat.
What parts of the goat are eaten?
While the most common cuts come from the legs, shoulders and loin, almost every part of the goat can be eaten. Here are some of the most popular goat meat cuts:
- Legs – The legs offer lean meat perfect for stews, curries, kebabs and roasting.
- Shoulders – The shoulders can be braised whole or cut into chops.
- Loin – The loin provides tender cuts that work well for grilling.
- Ribs – Goat ribs are excellent when slow roasted, braised or grilled.
- Organs – Offal like the heart, liver, kidneys and tongue are prized in some cuisines.
- Head and trotters – Used in dishes like birria, Jamaican mannish water and Vietnamese kho.
What spices and flavors pair well with goat meat?
The flavor of goat meat pairs excellently with bold seasonings and robust ingredients. Some top spice pairings include:
- Chili peppers – Scotch bonnets, habanero, ancho, chipotle, etc.
- Curry powder and garam masala
- Jerk seasoning
In terms of flavor partners beyond spices, good matches for goat include:
- Coconut milk
- Wine or stock for braising
What is the best way to cook goat meat?
To highlight the unique flavor of goat meat, it is best to cook it using moist heat techniques like:
- Braising and stewing – Long, slow cooking tenderizes meat and infuses flavor.
- Curries – The sauce permeates the meat and adds lots of spice and depth.
- Grilling and broiling – Quick cooking over high heat caramelizes the exterior.
- Roasting and baking – Gentle oven heat keeps meat juicy.
- Sous vide – Cooking in a temperature controlled water bath cooks meat evenly.
Goat meat can become tough if overcooked, so moist cooking methods help keep it tender. Average cooking times are 1-2 hours for braises, stews and curries and 15-30 minutes for grilling, broiling and stir-frying cuts.
What are some tips for cooking with goat meat?
Here are some helpful tips for cooking delicious goat meat dishes:
- Choose younger animals for more tender meat.
- Use bone-in cuts when possible, as the bones add flavor.
- Trim off any excess fat or silver skin.
- Marinate goat overnight in acidic ingredients to help tenderize.
- Brown the meat well before braising or stewing.
- Cook with moist heat or grill at high temp.
- Cook until very tender, but not overdone.
- Slice across the grain after cooking if serving chops or roasts.
- Use bold flavors like curry, chili peppers, allspice and cumin.
What are good goat meat substitutions?
If you don’t have goat meat, some suitable substitutions include:
- Lamb – The closest match, with a similar rich, meaty flavor.
- Beef – Chuck roast or stew meat works well in braised, stewed and curried dishes.
- Venison or elk – Provide a comparable lean, gamey taste.
- Mutton – Meat from mature sheep, with more flavor than lamb.
- Rabbit or squirrel – Wild game like rabbit or squirrel can work in some instances.
For best results, choose a substitution with a robust flavor profile. You may need to adjust cooking times slightly, as goat is lean with less fat and connective tissue than some meats.
What are some common ways to serve goat meat?
Goat meat is extremely versatile and can be served:
- In stews, curries and chilis over rice
- In tacos, burritos, sandwiches and pitas
- On kebabs or skewers with vegetables
- Sliced in stir-fries with other ingredients
- As chops, oven roasted or grilled
- In empanadas, samosas or other stuffed pastries
- In salads, mixed with greens, vegetables and cheese
- As the protein on a platter with roasted vegetables
The rich, savory flavors pair well with starchy sides like rice, potatoes, beans or flatbreads. Bright vegetables, herbs and vinaigrettes also help balance out the hearty taste.
What drinks pair well with goat meat?
The bold, gamy taste of goat meat pairs nicely with many drinks. Some excellent options include:
- Beer – Bold dark brews like stouts and porters or hoppy IPAs.
- Red wine – Such as Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux.
- Cider – The tartness contrasts the rich meat.
- Tea – Black tea or masala chai.
- Lassi – A yogurt-based Indian drink provides tang.
- Jamaican ginger beer – The spice complements curry goat dishes.
The array of spices and global flavors used in goat meat dishes gives you lots of options for drink pairings. Consider complementary flavors like hops, tannins, oak and stone fruit.
With its robust, distinct flavor and lean yet tender texture, goat meat is growing in popularity for curries, stews, kebabs, tacos and many other dishes. It adapts beautifully to bold seasonings and its signature gaminess stands up well to assertive cooking methods like braising, stewing and grilling. From Jamaican jerk to Indian curry, goat meat is the star ingredient in many iconic recipes across the world. With proper preparation to keep it moist and tender, goat provides a uniquely savory eating experience.