Saturday, January 21, 2012
No Swimming Goat
I am up to my hairline with lemons and oranges, and colorful jars of fermenting sauerkraut, kimchi, preserved lemons and Indian "lime" pickle. I have turned my kitchen into a factory. It feels so good.
Of course, these things take time. So while I wait the few weeks for them to ripen properly, I wanted to tell you about a soup I made the other week. It is eloquently called Goat Soup, but it is so much more. I should probably call it African Peanut Goat Soup with Coconut, but that is too wordy. Goat Soup it is!
I made it the other day when I finally faced the fact that I still had last years leftover goat shoulder in my freezer, and it wasn't going to make itself. I have talked already about my unease with meat, and this beast of a shoulder was all things intimidating. It was awkward, big, boney, had hardly any meat at all on it, and part of the spine was attached. The spine. When I wiggled it just the right way it moved like one of those wooden linked snakes my brother used to have as a kid.
But I am hard core now. I took that monstrosity out of the freezer, let it thaw, hacked away with my newly acquired steel-bladed butcher knife, and I ended up with a few smaller hunks of animal I could handle. Here's to good tools and a little gusto.
The soup itself is not just some swimming goat, which could be weird or good, depending. It is a series of flavor layers that take good goatiness and make it the hearty backdrop to creamy coconut and the nutty peanut butter, and with a little bitter kick of greens. The mix of tastes that tames the wild goat might be a good gateway meal for someone who is not used to strong meat flavors. So, my suggestion? Have a weekend supper of it. Invite some friends or some family or both. Cozy in and eat up. And see if you can't convert someone to a meat from the back of the barnyard.
I did this in two days because I find it easier (to skim the plethora of fat off the top, to cut cold meat, to be able to decipher between fatty glop and meaty goodness). So start this the day before you want to serve it.
1-1 1/2 pounds goat shoulder, ribs, or other very bony cut
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
Cut the shoulder however you must to get it to fit into the large soup pot you're going to use. Brown as best you can in a little oil over medium-high heat. Put the browned meat into the pot, deglaze the pan with water into the stock pot, cover the meaty bones with water and add onion, tomatoes, and 6 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil and then cover and barely simmer for a long time, about two hours, or until the meat is literally falling off the bones. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, probably two to three hours before you want to serve it, prepare the veggies and the meat broth. Skim the fat and throw out or save to use as the oil in a goaty stir-fry. Pick the meat from the bones, chop, and add back to the goat broth.
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 medium yams, peeled and cubed
1 can coconut milk
1 cup natural peanut butter
juice of 1 lemon
a few confident three finger pinches salt, and more to taste
1 bunch spinach, chard or collard greens, chopped (about six cups greens)
1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
cilantro leaves, chopped
Prepare the vegetables. Add the onion and yams to the pot and simmer until soft. Add bell pepper, if using, with the chard stems, if using.
Cook until tender. About twenty minutes before dinner, add the greens and stir to submerge. Cook until tender (either just a few minutes for spinach, ten to fifteen minutes for chard, or twenty minutes for collards). Add lemon juice and coconut milk. Add peanut butter slowly, stirring it in well to incorporate it. Add water to achieve desired consistency. Mine was fairly soupy, and I liked it like that. Add salt and pepper to taste (I added a couple three finger pinches).
Serve hot with a nice crusty bread and a healthy sprinkling of cilantro. Enjoy!