Goat meat is not only incredibly delicious and nutrient dense, it’s also sustainable for the planet. Find out why you should embrace this protein and enjoy a new tasty recipe.
This is a guest post by Diana Rodgers of Sustainable Dish.
I’m a farmer and paleo nutritionist, and my friend Chris has generously offered to let me tell you about why I love goats. In my latest book, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook, I provide over 100 seasonal recipes and also provide a complete guide to how healthy food is produced. The following is an excerpt from the chapter on goats, including a recipe so you can give goat a try:
More than 80 percent of the world’s goats live in Asia and Africa. Although goat meat is a fundamental protein for many across the globe, Americans generally only keep goats for their milk—their meat is seen as too pungent, and with the wide availability of other meats here, goat is not considered a delicacy.
A little goat history
About 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, people in the Near East began keeping small herds of goats for their milk and meat. Goats also played several roles in ancient religions: depictions of many gods, such as the Greek god Pan, show them in goat forms; the Jewish practice of designating a goat to bear the sins of the people on Yom Kippur led to the term “scapegoat”; and goats were often used in religious sacrifice. Over time, goats have become smaller than their wild ancestors, and their horns have also shrunk. However, they have kept their natural curiosity, vitality, and gumption, which endear them to us humans.
#Goat is a nutrient dense and delicious protein source. Try it in this Indian Stew recipe from @SustainableDish
Goat Milk and Meat Nutrition
The molecules in goat milk are similar in size to those in human milk, making it easier for babies to digest and suitable for a range of dairy products. Unlike cows, goats convert carotene to vitamin A in their milk, making it more bioavailable to humans. Goat milk is naturally homogenized because it does not contain agglutinin, the compound in cow milk that enables the fat globules to rise to the top—so goat milk won’t separate. It also contains less lactose than cow milk, so those with problems digesting lactose may have an easier time digesting goat milk.
Goat milk tastes different from cow milk and is particularly good for making cheese. Some breeds produce a more musky-tasting milk, and if there is a buck around, the milk may have a stronger taste. In general, the fresher the milk, the sweeter the taste. We did a taste test with our kids, and they almost always preferred goat milk to cow milk.
Goat meat is low in calories and fat—it doesn’t marble like beef does—and high in protein and iron. Meat from a relatively young goat is quite tasty, though the cuts can contain more bones than lamb cuts. I generally make stews and curries with goat meat, and I use the bones for added flavor. Smoked goat leg is also fantastic. I tend to avoid meat from bucks (male goats), as the flavor is quite strong. If you’d like to try goat meat and aren’t ready to raise it yourself, try seeking out a butcher that caters to Middle Eastern or Caribbean customers.
Goats as a Sustainable Meat Source
Goats haven’t really entered the industrial meat scene, so CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) goats are not that common. Goats prefer weeds over grass and clover, leaving those for sheep and cows. They also love to graze in ditches, climb trees, and generally do a great job at cleaning up the brushy areas on the edge of our farm. Because goats are quite happy on relatively marginal land, means they are not competing with humans for valuable crop production space, leaving more land for vegetable production.
In summary, if you’re interested in eating meat that is not part of the large, industrial food chain, that tastes fantastic and is also healthy for you, consider getting some goat. If you have a little space and would like to try raising your own goats, or just want to learn more about them, check out my new book,The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook. It contains over 100 seasonal, farm-to-table recipes, plus a complete guide to growing your own food. Even if you don’t live on a 50-acre ranch, this book is a must-have for anyone interested in learning more about how healthy food is produced. I’ve also included fun sections on camping, crafts, and other tips like 10 questions to ask your farmer so that you are a better-informed consumer.
Recipe from The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook
Indian Lamb Stew with Spinach
Serves 4 to 6
Also called Indian spinach, Malabar is a succulent type of vine-growing spinach that is easy to grow and very unique. It’s widely used in India and Africa as a leafy vegetable added to soups and stews. I love to use it in this stew, but you can substitute standard spinach, or even chard or kale. Sometimes, greens can get lost in a stew, so sautéing them with a little garlic and adding them at the end when they are still bright and flavorful is a fun twist. This curry-style stew is lovely with a dollop of whole-milk yogurt on top. It’s a perfect dish for a cool fall night.
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2 pounds lamb or goat stew meat
- 2 cups diced white or yellow onions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1½ cups diced tomatoes (or canned if tomato season has passed)
- 2 teaspoons red chili powder
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
For the topping:
- ½ pound Malabar spinach or regular spinach
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Juice of ½ lime
- 4 to 6 tablespoons whole-milk yogurt or crème fraîche (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 275°F.
- In a large Dutch oven, warm the ghee over medium heat.
- Add the lamb and sauté until browned on all sides.
- Add the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chili powder, salt, turmeric, and jalapeño and continue cooking for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft.
- Add enough water to just cover the meat.
- Cover the pot and place in the oven for 3 hours.
- Remove from the oven and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Set aside.
- To make the topping, slice the spinach into ¼-inch-wide strips.
- Heat the ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and greens and sauté for just a few minutes, until bright green. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
- To serve, ladle a serving of the stew into a bowl. Top with some of the sautéed greens and, if you wish, a tablespoon of yogurt.
Note: You can substitute beef stew meat in this recipe, if you wish.
Whole 30: Omit the optional dairy.
AIP: Substitute canned pumpkin for the tomatoes and omit the chili powder and jalapeño. Use coconut oil instead of ghee.
Diana Rodgers is a farmer, paleo nutritionist, and multimedia producer. She is the author of The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook, Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts On the Go, and also produces videos on sustainable agriculture issues plus The Modern Farm Girls Podcast. She can be found at www.sustainabledish.com.