Since I saw Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall’s curry goat episode on River Cottage, I’ve been obsessed with trying curry goat. Curry goat is curry goat. Do not call it goat curry. There’s a difference. I’m not sure what the difference is, but asking for goat curry at any Jamaican eatery is sure to have you ridiculed and branded as a floundering noob.
I tried a delicious Carribean curry goat over the summer at Splore Festival. The food stall was run by catering company Jamaican Me Hungry and the goat was divine. I couldn’t wait another two years to try curry goat again so last week, I made curry goat at home.
Goat meat isn’t popular here in New Zealand. No, our prized beast here is lamb. But as tasty as lamb is, it can can be expensive and often reserved for special occasions. I have never cooked with goat meat and I can’t say I’ve eaten it many times, but I’ve enjoyed it every time. Growing up in my family didn’t harbour any love for goat meat – the Cantonese, consider goat (and even lamb to a degree) to be smelly and pungent. Goat is a cheap alternative to lamb and it is much leaner too so if you are the kind of cook who trims away excess fat on lamb, then goat is ideal.
I looked online for goat meat and found a halal butcher close to my parents house. I put in a request for Mum to by me a kilo of goat meat…which reminds me now, I owe her some cash for the meat she bought! Oops! Sorry Mum!…She ended up buying goat meat at good old Pak N Save, which surprised me. At $10 a kilo, the goat pieces are quite economical. They were chops, bone in, with no fat or grisle.
I couldn’t find Scotch Bonnet chillies so I used birdseye chillies which I believe are slightly milder than the Scotch Bonnet pepper.
I mixed 3 cups of white long grain rice with 1 cup of red rice. This resulted in a beautiful, slightly chewy rice. The red rice is quite similar in texture to brown rice which I’m not a fan of, but combining it up with white rice was a good.
I had fun toasting and then pounding the spice blend. It smells amazing. I can’t recommend enough the difference enough between fresh pounded spices and the pre-ground stuff. No contest. Don’t skip this step for a pre-ground spice blend.
I roughly followed Hugh’s recipe which can be found here. My version uses just a kilo of goat meat and feeds four people.
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall’s recipe
For the Jamaican curry blend
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 kilogram (2 pounds) goat meat (chops)
2 tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, bashed, then roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 to 4 birdseye chillies deseeded and finely chopped
2 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
1 bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon HP sauce (optional but very authentic)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
- Dry roast the first 5 spices of the curry blend in a hot, dry frying pan. Remove from heat and pound in a mortar and pestle. Mix with the ground ginger and turmeric.
- Cut the goat pieces in half, quarters or thirds depending on size. You don’t want the pieces too small, aim for about 4 pieces per person. My pieces didn’t have any excessive fat, but if yours does, trim it off. You don’t want the curry goat to be too oily.
- Skin the tomatoes using a sharp knife by cutting a shallow cross across the bottom of the tomato. Pop the tomatoes into some boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and then plunge into cold or ice water. The tomato skin will then peel off easily. Roughly chop the tomato and put into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the garlic, onion, herbs and chillies to the mixing bowl. I used 2 chillies would I would recommend 2 chillies for a mild dish. Use more if you and your guests are more daring. Add 1 tablespoon of HP sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of the freshly ground spice blend and mix in the goat meat.
- Combine all the ingredients well until thoroughly mixed. Take your time with this Cover and refrigerate overnight or if you’re doing this on the same day, marinade for 6 hours or more.
- Three or more hours before you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F.
- In a large, hot frying pan cook the meat (shaking off most of the onion and tomato marinade) in a little oil until it is nice and brown. Do this in about 3 batches , taking care not to overcrowd the pan or the meat will start to stew. Transfer the meat to a dutch oven or large casserole dish.
- Fry the leftover marinade until the onions are soft. Add to the dutch oven.
- Deglaze the pan with a cup of water and a teaspoon of salt. Add to the dutch oven and an extra water so that the meat is covered. Bring to the boil and then cook at 120°C/250°F in the oven for 3 hours, stirring once and checking for seasoning at the same time.
- Serve with rice and a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves.
- Taste the sauce during the cooking process. Extra salt will really bring out the amazing flavours.
- Freeze extra portions for a delicious dinner or weekday lunch.