Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

Goat Fest 2009


[WARNING: Gratuitous talk of flesh below. Vegan, vegetarian and other unhappy people readers' discretion advised.]

It started with a plan. A group of ladies, many of whom were Capricorns, dreamed of a winter goat fest. They talked it over with friends. But work and life got in the way; and most importantly, there wasn't a goat to be found.

Then one day on the cusp of winter and spring, one of the ladies (yours truly) got an email from a rancher she met at the local farmers' market. He said he had a goat and wanted to cook it and enjoy. This lady told him there were many others who would enjoy it with him, so he sent this reply:

"Ok, so you want to have some weird spring equinox carnivore festival?                                                    Cool, I am all in. Tell me where and how much flesh to bring."

Plans were made. Recipes were sought. And the night before the big Goat Fest, the rancher, Russ Taylor, arrived on my door step with a box. Behold, the beauty of 35 pounds of fresh, young Boer goat meat.

Just days earlier over the phone, Russ told me the goat was still outside enjoying the grass. And now, its flesh was carved into various cuts for us all to savor -- legs, ribs, chops, shoulder, shanks. We divided up the bounty with bold ambitions and met up the next evening.

Goat Fest 2009 officially kicked off with a buffet line of extraordinary dishes. Salads. Cheese with guava paste. Shrimp with southwestern-style corn. Green coconut rice. And of course, goat. Moroccan roast leg. Rendang -- a traditional goat stew from Indonesia served with sticky rice. A goat chop fricasee with wild mushrooms. Broiled ribs. And an elegant Moroccan b'steeya, sheathed in thin layers of fillo and dusted with powdered sugar. Goat replaced the traditional pigeon and we all approved of this variation.

Our inner carnivores emerged. We ate. And then ate some more. We drank. And then drank some more and got louder. We licked our fingers. We laughed. Some of us cried. Such are feasts where fears subside.

The group of ladies, their partners, husbands and boyfriends agreed -- this was no ordinary feast. The rancher and his wife did, too. In fact, they enjoyed it (and the wine) so much, they forgot their cameras and didn't really take any pictures of the actual meal. So please, use your imaginations when it comes to envisioning Goat Fest.

And for those who did participate and are reading this post, please feel free to leave your recipes and comments in the comment boxes below.

Until then, we're planning for Pig Jam ...

Below is a recipe for goat ribs I more or less improvised. It's a mutt of a marinade with influences from parts of the world and would serve chicken, pork ribs, beef ribs, etc. equally well. If you happen to have a favorite goat recipe, by all means, share with me!

Goat Ribs with Mutt Marinade

1 cup soy sauce * 1/2 cup dark sesame oil * 1/2 cup molasses * 1/2 cup sherry vinegar * juice of 1 grapefruit * 1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped * 4 fresh red chiles, chopped (seeds and all) * 1/2 cup honey * 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces * 1 star anise pod * 2 slabs of goat ribs (chicken drumsticks, pork ribs work well)

Combine everything but the ribs in a bowl or container large enough to hold the ribs. Mix well. Place the ribs (or desired meat) into the container and make sure they make enough contact in the bowl. Think of how you'd like to fit into a nice relaxing bath. Let sit for at least four (4) hours. Overnight is best.

To cook: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove meat from marinade and place into a roasting pan. Cook for about 35 to 40 minutes, occasionally basting with the leftover marinade. About half way through cooking, turn the ribs to evenly brown on all sides. When done, remove meat from pan. For the ribs, let them rest 10 minutes before you cut them into serving pieces. The marinade will make a dark glaze to go with the earthy, savory meat. It'll make your fingers sticky, but that's the whole point of such a thing.