Chef's Table: Get Your Goat
Hominy Grill’s Robert Stehling transforms the world’s most-consumed protein
In case you haven’t noticed, goat is trending, and it’s not just an ethnic restaurant thing any more. An easy-to-raise staple of many cuisines and the most widely consumed meat worldwide, goat is high in protein and low in fat, making it a meaty choice for health-conscious consumers. “Goat also takes far fewer resources to produce than beef or pork,” says Robert Stehling, chef/owner of Hominy Grill, who is doing his part to bring goat to Lowcountry tables.
“It’s leaner than pork—the other white meat—but goats are usually well fed and plenty fat, nothing like venison. Your first thought is that it will taste like lamb, but it’s much more mild and delicate—probably closer to beef.” Stehling shares his process for whole-animal use, the best way to purchase goat. “We start with the prime cuts—steaks and chops for the grill—then move to the rear quarter, where we can get cuts to grill or braise. We usually smoke the shoulder. The rest is cut and trimmed for stew or ground for sausage.” Don’t be intimidated, he advises. Goat “mostly cooks like beef: overcook it and it will be dry, undercook it and it will be chewy.”
Stehling’s curried goat is a good gateway dish for those whose only familiarity with the animal has been through cheese. Replete with spices and vegetables, it’s a “sweet curry stew made in a traditional Charleston style.” Similar to cooked lamb, his grilled leg of goat calls for lots of fresh herbs and garlic. “Smoke and char it,” he advises, “to really give it the meaty flavor.” His goat meatballs with lentils and coconut Hoppin’ John reflect a more ethnic rendition with “flavors from two of the world’s regions that consume the most goat—the desert and the tropics.”
Frequently serving the meat in the colder months, Stehling buys his goats “from different purveyors out of Atlanta or North Carolina, but mostly from Heritage Foods USA in New York,” whose No Goat Left Behind project is a serious effort to provide a sustainable end market for dairy animals. Locally, whole live goats are available from Burden Creek Farms, a goat cheese dairy on John’s Island. From there, Burbage’s Meats in Hollywood will slaughter and butcher the animal. To buy cuts, order from Ted’s Butcherblock a week in advance of your meal.
The Scoop: Dishing it up with Chef Robert Stehling
Restaurant: Hominy Grill
Accolades: James Beard Best Chef Southeast 2008
First F&B Gig: Dishwasher at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, which was given a 2011 American Classic award by the James Beard Foundation
Education: Bachelor of Arts at UNC Chapel Hill
Favorite Local Ingredient: Shrimp
Recipe He'll Take To The Grave: “Beet mustard —no one wants it!”
2½ Tbs. clarified unsalted butter, divided
1½ lbs. diced goat stew meat, divided
2 cups homemade goat stock or low-sodium chicken stock, divided
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1½ tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 cup peeled and diced eggplant
1¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. curry powder
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup peeled and diced plum tomatoes
Working in two batches and using a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, heat three-fourths tablespoons of the butter, add half of the meat, and brown. This should take about five minutes per batch. Add some of the stock to the pot between batches and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom. Reserve this stock.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same pot. Add the onions and sauté them for five to seven minutes, until they become a little more than golden brown. Stir in the bell pepper and garlic and continue sautéing until tender, about five more minutes. Add the diced eggplant, salt, curry powder, thyme, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes and continue to sauté until tender, three to four minutes.
Stir the tomatoes, reserved goat meat, and reserved stock into the pot. Add the rest of stock and bring all to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and slow-simmer the stew for about an hour. Check the meat. When it is done, it will be tender in your mouth but not falling apart yet. Cook it 15 to 30 minutes more if needed.
Serve it with what is known in India as raita —rice or grits and yogurt mixed with mint, grated cucumber, and lime juice.
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. kosher salt
3-lb. leg of goat, deboned and butterflied
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
Smash the garlic with the side of your knife, then mince it finely. Combine garlic with the thyme, rosemary, and salt. Rub mixture onto goat leg and sprinkle on black pepper at least two hours before grilling but no more than eight hours. Refrigerate the goat after rubbing on the seasonings. Take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling to bring it to room temperature.
Prepare a hot fire on your grill.
Rub the olive oil onto the goat right before putting it on the grill. Place it over hot coals, turning it so that you get a good char on the outside. Cover the grill and cook the goat for 12 to 15 minutes on one side. Flip it over and grill it for an additional 10 minutes on the other side for medium rare. Remove from the grill. Allow the goat to rest for five to seven minutes before slicing it. Cut thin slices starting at what would have been the top (thicker) end of the leg.
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground goat
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh mint
1½ Tbs. grated shallot
1½ garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. Moroccan spice mix (Willliams-Sonoma’s Mourad’s Moroccan Roasting & Grilling Rub recommended)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups peanut oil
For the lentils:
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced carrot
1½ tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. Moroccan spice mix (Willliams-Sonoma’s Mourad’s Moroccan Roasting & Grilling Rub recommended)
1 bay leaf
2¼ cups homemade goat stock or low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup brown lentils
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For the coconut Hoppin’ John:
1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
1/2 small shallot, minced
1/2 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 of a 14-oz. can coconut milk
1½ cups cooked black beans, drained
1 cup jasmine or Uncle Ben’s rice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, optional
Combine the goat meat, cilantro, mint, shallot, garlic, spice mix, salt, and egg thoroughly but do not over mix. Roll mixture into one-inch balls. Put enough of the oil in a deep skillet so that it would only barely cover the meatballs. Heat the oil until it is shimmering but not smoking.
Working in batches, place 10 to 12 meatballs into the oil at a time. Roll the meatballs around slightly to make sure they brown evenly and are not sticking. They should brown in about two minutes. Remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels. Repeat the process until all of the meatballs are browned.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Heat the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and ginger and sauté them until tender, six to eight minutes.
Add the tomatoes, thyme, spice mix, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook about five minutes. Add the stock, lentils, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and top with the meatballs. Cover tightly. Bake for one hour, or until the lentils are cooked.
Heat the butter over medium heat in a two-quart saucepan, preferably one with a tight fitting lid. Add the shallots and jalapeño and sauté approximately three to five minutes until tender. Add the stock, coconut milk, and black beans and bring to a boil. Stir in rice and bring back to a boil. Cover the saucepan tightly with lid or aluminum foil.
Reduce the heat to the burner’s lowest setting. Simmer the beans and rice for 17 minutes and turn off the heat. Wait 10 more minutes and uncover. Fluff with a fork and cover for five more minutes. Add the optional scallions.