It stands to reason that curry goat is best made with goat, but goat meat can prove difficult to find.
I scoured nearly every butcher I knew in the hope of finding it, from my normal, trusted shop right through to the tiny halal places in the back streets of Bradford.
Nobody had goat. Nobody could get goat. Nobody could help me.
I was about to give up and substitute lamb, which would have been OK, but nothing new, when I chanced across a Caribbean freezer shop in a market. I found out that, yes, they stocked goat, but they only get a delivery on a Monday, and that they were likely to have sold it all by Tuesday morning. If I wanted goat, I had to be there on Monday.
So I was.
This recipe is Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall’s, and he describes how curry goat recipes differ wildly. Curry goat, it seems, is one of those things that no two people cook the same.
The first thing to do is to pack the meat with some Caribbean flavours, and that means getting it into a spice mix and leaving it there for a long, long time.
Dry fry a tablespoon each of coriander seeds, black peppercorns and fenugreek seeds together with twelve cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick in a frying pan without any oil until the spices start to gently brown. Use a coffee grinder or blender to grind the roasted spices to a fine powder and mix in a tablespoon each of ground ginger and turmeric.
Put 2kg of goat meat, chopped into two or three centimetre chunks into a large bowl and add two generous tablespoons of the spice mix, three large, skinned and roughly chopped tomatoes, three cloves of chopped garlic, two finely chopped onions, the leaves from a small handful of thyme stalks and the chopped stems from a bunch of coriander.
Add two tablespoons of HP Sauce to the bowl. Hugh hedges his bets here and lists this as optional, but I think the spicy and peppery kick that the HP gives is absolutely vital, aside from being, apparently, quite traditional.
Now for the heat.
Curry goat needs heat. Lots of heat.
The heat comes from a rather magical little chilli called the Scotch Bonnet. This is not a chilli to take lightly. Use it and handle it with care. It’s a vicious little fellow.
One or maybe two Scotch Bonnets will be enough, seeded and finely chopped.
Wash your hands thoroughly after chopping the chilli up, and don’t touch your eyes. If you do, you’ll know about it.
When you’re ready to cook, heat some oil or clarified butter in a large frying pan and fry a few pieces of the meat at a time until they’re well browned. As you put the meat into the pan, scrape off as much of the marinade as possible.
When the meat is all browned and you’re removed it to a casserole dish, tip the marinade into the same frying pan and cook it until the onions start to soften. Deglaze the pan with a little water and add the marinade to the meat.
Add a teaspoon of salt and enough water to just cover the meat. Cover the casserole and put it into a low oven, 120c, for at least two hours, although don’t be surprised if it take three.
The curry is cooked when the meat is tender and on the point of falling apart.
Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves and plain white rice.
This recipe makes a huge pan full of curry goat. It gets better in the fridge overnight, and it freezes very well indeed.
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