Look What I Made: Cabrito Bourguignon

Cabrito bourguignon with polenta croutons (photos by Travis Awalt)

You can tell a lot about a person based on how they react to unfamiliar meats at the grocery store. There are those that purse their lips at the sight, quickly corralling anyone in tow away to the safety of boneless skinless chicken breasts, as if chased by a drifter. There are the moderates who are less judgey – maybe they do some medium-heat Thai food on occasion, no big deal – but still not that adventurous. At the other end, there are those that hyperventilate at the sight of random meats, grab as much as they can and head for the exit, all along muttering in a paranoid growl about meats and ‘the man.’

Do I have to say it? I’m in the third group. Hell, I think I may be the ringleader. Rabbit, wild boar, sweetbreads, beef cheeks*, tripe, you name it… where do I sign? And I would like to sign something, it would feel more official that way.

Goat: the other, other red meat?

Last weekend, Fiesta had cabrito on special. Now, you may be thinking ‘what’s cabrito, jerk’? If you’ll be nicer, I will tell you. Cabrito is kid goat. Yep, kid as in kid, goat as in goat. I tricked ya! No way I was leading with the fact that I made a goat dish. Frankly, goat is the kind of thing most people won’t even consider eating, let alone reading about, unless tricked. But that’s only because unlike in the Middle East, the Caribbean, even Mexico, we don’t eat much goat here in the states. So it’s not that goat is weird; we’re just unfamiliar with it. Which brings me to my next point: I am pretty unfamiliar with goat. For something eaten regularly in so many parts of the world, goat doesn’t take up nearly as much internet real estate as, say, cupcake pops or anything made into a slider. On my own it is…

The goat I bought was already roughly cubed and looked to be cut from the shoulder – lean, with a few socket bone slivers, some tendon and no real marbling. The color was dark red and it almost looked like cut-up beef shank. Since this goat was so lean (probably from eating all those tin cans), braising was a no-brainer. But beyond that? Lacking a landmark recipe**, I opted for adapting a familiar recipe to this foreign meat. Boeuf bourguignon was a natural fit. This goat came out very tender and had a mild flavor not unlike lamb. All-in-all, an interesting change of pace and a friendly dish for introducing a new element to skeptical palates.

Start sauteing the pearl onions and mushrooms while stew finishes braising

Cabrito Bourguignon

(serves 3)

1.5-2 lbs cabrito, cut into 1″ cubes
2-3 cups beef stock
2 cups dry red wine
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks (you want a thick one, because it’s going to braise for awhile)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers or mild chiles
handful of baby bella or button mushrooms, halved
handful of pearl onions, skins removed
3 smashed garlic cloves
tbsp tomato paste
tsp dried thyme
olive oil
butter
salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a dutch oven, brown the meat in batches in the olive oil and set aside. Then saute the carrot, chopped onions, garlic and peppers until fragrant, adding more olive oil if necessary.

2. Add the meat back in, along with the tomato paste, thyme, wine, 2 cups of the stock and some salt. Place the lid on the pot and put it into the oven for about 2 hours.

3. Before the two hours is up, melt the butter in another pan. Saute the pearl onions and mushrooms until they’re starting to brown.

4. After two hours, the meat should be cooked through and very tender. Place the dutch oven on the stove, cut the carrots more if desired, add in the pearl onions  and mushrooms and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the additional stock if necessary and serve with…

Polenta Croutons

Pre-cooked polenta
oil

1. Freeze the polenta for about 15 minutes to firm it up. Cut it into 1″ cubes. Toss in oil or spray with cooking spray, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 until the edges of the croutons start to turn brown, 20-30 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.

Ready to serve

*I’ll eat a cow’s face, but I draw the line at, you know… (whispers) brains. It’s not that I have anything against brains other than I’ve tried them and found them mushy and gross.

**First I thought of doing Jamaican style curried goat, as that’s really the only goat dish that comes to mind. However, if you have ever had curried goat, or seen any pictures of the dish, from a strictly aesthetic standpoint,  it legitimately looks like garbage.