Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

I was asked by my co-author, Michael Heller, to prepare a recipe I had created in our cookbook for the Maryland Grazers Network annual meeting. At this gathering their new 2013 calendar was  passed off the press. I was also asked to attend which I did with enthusiasm.

For the 2013 calendar, the slant is towards the consumer as a pictorial guide with notes and tips from farmers as well as one of their recipes for each month. The 2013 publication is a visually beautiful tool to understand a bit of how this world flows. What is so unique about these farmers? 

Maryland Grazers Network’s greatest achievement is creating a space for new and experienced farmers to compare notes, celebrate the past year and plan for the next as a team. It is an important tool for relationship building, gaining new skills and connecting with the community.

What's for Dinner in Most of the World

Goat meat is the most widely consumed meat in the world, but you will have difficulty finding it for purchase in the United States except at specialty meat shops and ethnic markets. When you do find it, you may not see the typical cuts of meat found in super- markets. Muslim tradition during the holidays requires that goats be cut into thirds: one-third for the family, one-third for friends, and one-third for the poor. Goats are ruminants, so grassfed goat meat provides all the nutritional benefits of other grassfed meats. Because goats are mainly browsers, their diet is more like deer in that they like eating the tender twigs of bushes and shrubs. They will also graze pastures, but goats do not feast on tin cans and T-shirts as is often thought—they are actually a bit finicky and very particular about having clean water to drink. The goat’s browsing diet makes its meat very lean and gives it a flavor and texture somewhat like venison. Goat meat has less fat than lamb so it is not as tender as lamb nor is it as strongly flavored. However, if you have experience cooking venison, then you will quickly adapt to cooking goat meat. Because the meat is so lean, it does not require any of the dry aging that beef and, to a lesser extent, sheep need to tenderize the meat.

 Goat Cylinders with Citrus-Yogurt Dressing

For this recipe, farmer, Jeff Semier, Extension Educator, AGNR,University of Maryland Extension, provided ground Kiko goat. It was fascinating to learn he is doing research on goats to reduce parasite susceptibility. Of course this goat was 100% pasture-raised and parasite-free.

Award-winning chef Pedro Matamoros of Matamoros Restaurant in Wheaton, Maryland, has developed close relationships with farmers in the Washington, D.C., area. His use of goat is inventive and showy because he forms the seasoned ground goat into a unique “skewer.” We’ve used his basic recipe as inspiration and added a few of our own twists.

 serves 12 as an hors d’oeuvre, 6 as an entree for the skewers:

  •  1 pound ground goat meat 
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons, juice reserved for the citrus-yogurt dressing 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons dried figs, finely chopped 
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt teaspoon 
  • freshly ground pepper 
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten 
  • Olive oil for grilling 12 skewers, soaked in water if wood

 for the citrus-yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup thick Greek-style yogurt 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped 
  •  teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon grated zest and cup juice of 1 orange 
  • 1 tablespoon reserved fresh lemon juice

 In a medium bowl, mix the goat meat, lemon zest, rosemary, pistachios, figs, garlic, salt, pepper, and egg white. Mix well to make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

 Meanwhile, make the citrus-yogurt sauce by combining the ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour to let flavors meld.

 Heat the grill to medium-high.

 To assemble, shape meat mixture into cylinders, about 1-inch wide and 3-inches long. Insert the skewers lengthwise into each cylinder, brush with oil, and grill to sear on the exterior leaving the interior moist, about 4 minutes while turning to brown on all sides.

Place cylinders on serving platter and pass citrus-yogurt sauce.

 Rice Pilaf

Serves 4 

 Easy, fast, and reliable, pilaf has another bonus:  it works well when cooked in advance and gently reheated.

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups rice, preferably basmati
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups stock
  • Thinly sliced scallions for garnish

 Put 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a large, deep skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.

 Add the rice all at once, turn the heat down to medium, and stir until the rice is glossy, completely coated with butter or oil, and starting to color lightly, about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then turn the heat down to low and add the stock all at once. Stir once or twice, then cover the pan.

 Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat to the absolute minimum (if you have an electric stove, turn the heat off and let the pan sit on the burner) and let rest for another 15 to 30 minutes. Add the remaining butter or oil if you like and fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust the seasoning, fluff again, garnish, and serve.

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