Monday, April 30, 2012

Farm Food: Goat Stew

On a farm in the middle of a very rural area, you eat what you grow.

Of course there are staples from town, cans of things and jars and such, but the majority of your food (hopefully) is seasonal and grown on farm.

Maybe you trade some lamb chops to a neighbor for a beef brisket or flank steak; maybe somebody down the road has veggies you don't grow, and you've got a deal worked out bartering eggs - the point is, you get what you can.
This is my reality for the next few weeks, and it feels fantastic.

(we still go to the store for groceries, about twice a month)

My hosts, Will and Kent, are great guys with a beautiful farm. Right now, I'm staying in their house; a real bucolic gem that embraces the rural feel but with refurbished modern conveniences (like a Sub-Zero fridge and Wolf range with a grill and flat top). The walls and ceilings are from the original farmhouse. Adorned with antlers, farm memorabilia, and lots of vintage chicken pictures, the house makes you feel immediately welcome, like you've lived there for years.

We take turns making meals, and my hosts are more than happy to let me take over as they kick back with a glass of wine after a busy day on the farm.

Today's menu: goat stew with sweet potatoes, chickpeas and currants.

This easy stew has layers of flavor. The simple recipe and adaptability should make it a staple for any kitchen cookbook. Whether a cool spring night, or an overcast rainy day, this stew makes a great meal with good crusty bread and fresh butter.

The sweet potatoes can be substituted with carrots, yellow potatoes, or any root vegetable you wish. The chickpeas are nice, but can be left out if other vegetables are wanted (artichokes, leftovers, seasonal veg etc...) The currants can be swapped with almost any dried fruit, but I think that dried cherries would be a nice compliment. Try to pair the fruit and veggies. Tart fruit, sweet vegetable; sweet fruit, savory vegetable; you get the idea.

The goat in this stew was none other than a Whitmore Farm Tennessee fainting goat. Raised on pasture and slaughtered at a small mom and pop butcher. It was delicious.

Also, I'll admit that the chickpeas came from a can, and the sweet potatoes, although organic, traveled a fair distance before they arrived in our shopping cart.

Goat Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas

6 cloves garlic
6 sprigs thyme (or rosemary)
2 1/2 lbs. goat stew meat (chunks!)
1 lb sweet potato or other root vegetable, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
one can chickpeas or 12 oz artichoke hearts
one lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup dry wine (I used what we had, but I feel that almost any would work)
1/4 currants or cherries or apricots or tart raisins
2 cups chicken stock (approx.)
2-3 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Add the oil, garlic, and thyme into a large pot and then set over medium heat, letting the oil infuse with the herbs for about 4 minutes.
2. Brown the goat pieces, adding them as necessary, and piling the browned pieces in the corner of the pot while the newer pieces cook. Make sure the garlic and thyme don't burn. If you must plate the meat to ensure no burning, do so, but add all the meat before the next step.
3. After all the goat is browned, salt and pepper it to taste, then add the wine. As the wine boils, use a wooden spoon and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, and let the wine reduce by about 1/3.
4. Add the chicken stock to the pot, along with the bay leaves, and the juice from your lemon. When everything starts to simmer again, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot,  and let the goat simmer slowly for one hour.
5. Add your currants, potatoes, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Continue cooking for 45 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add the chickpeas. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. The goat and potatoes should be tender, and the chickpeas should be softened but still have some bite to them. Remove the bay leaves and taste for salt before serving!

Serve with crusty bread and good butter. Like all stews, it is fantastic the next day.

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