Chevon Cuisine: Give Goat Meat a Try

Reader Contribution by Corinne Gompf and Heritage Harvest Farm
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Now, I know what you’re thinking: Goat meat? Gross!

Most of the time, people who have that opinion have never actually tasted goat meat — known as chevon or capretto — or have tried meat from an old, culled goat that should not have been processed for food. This is where goat can get its gamey-flavor reputation.

I’ve had both mild, tender, young goat that is actually quite delicious and similar to lamb, and goat that was too strong to be edible, and it wasn’t cooked properly (blech). But, chevon that is processed correctly and cooked and seasoned well is wonderful, and it’s easy to understand why goat is one of the most consumed meats in the world.

We’re in our third year of raising Boer goats, primarily for show-quality animals, but it’s important to understand the end product of our livestock. Yes, we raise goats that “look pretty,” but what does that mean? Simplified, judges are looking for muscle tone and bone structure that will produce the ultimate carcass. The primary reason to raise Boer goats, however, is meat production, so not only do I need to be educated on raising Boers for the show arena, but also on the best ways to prepare our end product, and chevon is becoming more of a common meat in my recipe repertoire.

If you’re new to cooking goat, then I recommend starting with a package of ground meat, like sausage. You can find chevon at specialty meat markets, local processors who have a retail store, and directly from a friendly farmer who raises Boer goats for meat production. I like sausage links because they freeze well, and I thaw two at a time to use for a variety of dishes.

Ground chevon pairs well with Italian or Mediterranean seasonings, so it’s ideal for this stuffed shell recipe. If you’re skeptical, you can swap the goat for pork sausage. But, if you’re feeling adventurous, and want to impress your foodie friends, give goat sausage a try.

Goat Sausage and Red Pepper Stuffed Shells Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 20 dried large pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 lb. goat sausage, or 2 large links (casing removed)
  • 1 16-oz. container ricotta cheese (or see my Three-Ingredient Ricotta Cheese recipe, use 1 batch)
  • 1 duck egg (OR 2 chicken eggs)
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground dried fennel
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • Pinch freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (give or take … always err on the side of more)
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley for garnish

Directions:

1.  In a large dutch oven, cook large shell pasta according to directions. I keep cooked pasta in room-temperature water while I continue the next steps. That way, the pasta won’t burn your fingers while you fill the shells with the meat-and-ricotta stuffing.

2. In a medium skillet, brown goat sausage in olive oil over medium heat. When the goat is halfway browned, add the garlic, red pepper, spices, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat once the goat is cooked through. With a spoon, remove goat meat mixture from skillet, putting it into a paper towel-lined bowl to remove excess fat and slightly cool. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, and goat mixture.

4. Add about a 1/2 cup of the jarred marinara sauce to the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. This will help prevent the shells from sticking to the bottom.

5. Holding one shell, gently squeeze to open up the shell and spoon a tablespoon-ish of stuffing into the center. Relax the shell so that it closes and place it in the pan, seam side up. Repeat until you’ve either run out of stuffing or shells. I usually get 16 in my pan, or four rows of four shells. I always cook 20 in case they rip or stick to the bottom of the dutch oven while boiling.

6. Top each shell with a spoonful of marinara and a pinch of mozzarella. 

7. Cover pan with foil. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, covered. Then, remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown nicely. 

8. Serve with freshly grated parmesan, cracked black pepper, and chopped parsley.


Corinne Gompf is a writer and hobby farmer in Morrow County, Ohio. She is a graduate from the University of Toledo, with a BA in English, creative writing concentration. Along with her husband, Matt, and two children, Fletcher and Emery, Corinne raises poultry, Boer goats, rabbits, and chemical-free produce. Connect with Corinne on her Heritage Harvest Farm Facebook page, and read all of her Mother Earth News posts here.

From appearances at the most high-end restaurants to street food carts coast-to-coast, goat meat and dairy products are being embraced across the country as the next big thing. With its excellent flavor, wide-ranging versatility and numerous health benefits, goat meat, milk and cheese are being sought by home cooks. And while goat is the world’s primary meat (upwards of 70 percent of the red meat eaten around the world is goat) never before has there been a cookbook on this topic in the United States. Goat is a no-holds-barred goatapedia, laugh-out-loud cooking class, cheesemaking workshop, and dairy-milking expedition all in one. Authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have brought together recipes such as Pan-Roasted Chops with Blackberries and Sage, Meatballs with Artichokes and Fennel, and Chocolate-Dipped Goat Cheese Balls, making this book the resource for this new frontier. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.


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