Worldwide, goat meat carries a mixed reputation: Considered a delicacy in some cuisines, it’s often considered an exotic meat in American cooking. But with a long history of inclusion as a staple in South Asian and Mexican gastronomy, we’re of the opinion that goat meat deserves a prominent place in kitchens here in the United States, as well!
What’s more, goat meat could be an effective solution to the environmental dangers posed by widespread beef cultivation, since goats are much easier to raise than cattle and even provide a healthier form of red meat. If the average American citizen can get on board with the virtues of this under-rated meat, we would be well on our way to taking better care of the planet without giving up too many of our culinary luxuries.
To give better context to this wonderfully flavorful (and fascinating) meat, we’ve put together a guide to explain its use in various food cultures — including information on what to expect from your first taste of goat meat, two recipes that show off goat meat’s unique character, and our recommendations for where to buy goat meat both online and in person.
What Does Goat Meat Taste Like?
The flavor of goat meat is similar to that of beef but much leaner. This creates a more tender texture that many prefer over beef or pork. Goat meat also has a delicate flavor that can be enhanced by marinades or rubs and spices. It can be cooked in a variety of ways and tastes good on its own, making it a simple protein to use.
It’s interesting to note that goats were one of the first animals to be domesticated by humans, more than 10,000 years ago. Because our societies have grown in tandem with goat cultivation, they’re one of the easiest animals to raise — making it well worth the exploration into how to cook and eat goat meat.
Part of the reason for goat meat’s dubious standing in the United States is due to the conditions under which it used to be prepared. Often harvested from older goats that were no longer of use on American farms, goat meat quickly developed a reputation as being exceptionally tough and gamey; but the reality of commercial goat meat production couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now, most goat meat comes from animals under 1 year of age — making it much more tender, with a milder flavor. Similar to lamb meat or beef, young goat meat is a culinary delight that is also surprisingly healthy, making it a versatile protein worthy of inclusion in almost any diet.
Television personality and globe-trotting gastronome Andrew Zimmern has this to say about the flavor of goat meat:
Most people believe goat is a tough, barnyard meat that is somehow less desirable than pork, beef or lamb. I just don’t get it… I’ve had superb goat curries in the Caribbean, roast baby goats with chile vinegar and onions in Venezuela, spicy wok-tossed goat and lemongrass in Vietnam, elegant Michelin-starred plated goat rib and loin plates in Europe, goat head soup in Argentina, raw goat in Ethiopia, goat with lemons and chiles in Cyprus and goat cooked with yogurt and flatbread in the Levant…”
Which only goes to show that goat meat is highly regarded in the food traditions of many cultures for good reason: Properly prepared, it offers a near-perfect combination of hearty flavor and healthy nutritional content.
Types of Goat Breed for Meat
Goat meat is less flavorful that beef, pork, or chicken as it does not have as strong of a taste. However, the breed of goat can play a part in the flavor of the meat if they are pasture raised. The most common breeds are typically more tender than those raised in the wild. When cooking goat meat, you have a lot of options as it can be cooked in a variety of ways with various types of seasonings and flavor enhancers.
The meat of this goat is the most popular in the United States, which leads to high demand for this breed. They are large and can grow up to 300 pounds or more. While they originated in South Africa, they are also bred in America for their meat. They are typically used as both dairy and meat goats.
These are also known as Brush Goats. They have a gentle temperament, are very hardy, and grow to be around 150 pounds. They most often come in black with white markings, but can also be white with brown or black spots. Black Spanish goats make the best quality goat cheese due to their milk being high in fat content.
The Angora is a fiber goat, which means their long locks are actually the animal’s fur. They produce about one pound of mohair per year on average, making it one of the most valuable breeds. They are quite docile and will breed year-round if given the opportunity. Their coat is more open than other breeds, making it easier for them to stay cool in hot weather.
Nigerian Dwarf Goat
This breed is the smallest on the list, growing no larger than 40 pounds fully grown. They are most often white with a black face and hooves. Nigerian dwarfs have a high reproductive rate and can even birth up to three babies at a time.
Goat Meat Nutrition
There are many benefits to consuming goat meat and some of them include: it is low-fat, high in zinc and iron, and high in B vitamins. Let’s discuss each one of these aspects in greater detail.
Goat meat is lower in fat than other animal proteins such as beef, pork, and chicken. This can be very beneficial to people who like to maintain a leaner diet or may want the reduced-fat option when cooking with meats.
Zinc and iron are two essential minerals that many individuals do not get enough of in their diet. Goat meat is a great way to get these minerals while simultaneously taking in various other important vitamins and nutrients that keep the body running strong.
B vitamins are also key in maintaining a healthy diet and goat meat has a high concentration of these vitamins as well. This includes thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, and folic acid.
Risks and Considerations For Eating Goat Meat
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most parasites found in goat meat are also found in other types of meat. The CDC recommends cooking meat thoroughly to kill any parasites or bacteria.
Another consideration when eating goat meat is whether it has been stored properly. If stored properly, goat meat will last for three days without refrigeration. When stored improperly, there is a risk that it may spoil within two days.
Goat meat is naturally free of trans fats. However, it can contain high levels of cholesterol. A four ounce serving has 10 times the amount of cholesterol as a lean steak.
When shopping for goat meat, you should look for bright red flesh with an even consistency. The bones should be pink to grey-white with no black spots. The fat should be white.
Goat meat may contain higher levels of saturated fats than chicken or beef, but it has less than pork and offers more nutrients than other meats. It offers the benefits of red meat while being leaner than both lobster and shrimp.
How to Cook Goat Meat
Goat meat is a healthy alternative to other red meats for one simple reason: It is quite low in fat.
Because of this, dishes cooked with goat meat require a lighter hand while cooking so as not to dry out. By avoiding high heat and dry heat methods and employing frequent use of marinades, mallets, and wet preparations, you can retain both the flavor and health benefits of goat meat without making it tough and unpalatable.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at two recipes that make the best of goat’s unique flavor and texture: One from Mexico, and one from India.
Indian Goat Curry
Depending on which part of India a curry is from, you can find wildly different flavors and ingredients employed in its construction. This simplified Punjabi-style curry gives a rich and flavorful kick to goat meat without adding too much heat or spice.
- 2 pounds goat meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 6-oz can tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 inch piece ginger, minced
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/4 cup ghee or vegetable oil
- Salt, to taste
- Heat ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet.
- Add sliced onions, and sweat down for 8-10 minutes (until translucent).
- Remove onions from heat; set aside to cool briefly.
- In a food processor, grind the onions as well as ginger and garlic to a fine paste; return to pan set on medium heat.
- Add tomato paste and garam masala to ginger, garlic, and onion paste, and stir to combine. After 10 to 15 minutes on the stove, the oil will begin to separate out of this puree.
- Add the goat meat chunks, completely covering each piece with the curry paste made in the previous steps. Cook goat for 8-10 minutes, until tender.
- Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, and stir to evenly distribute the curry. Let simmer for 15 minutes, then serve with rice or flatbreads.
Easy Slow Cooker Mexican Goat Stew (Birria)
Birria is a traditional dish from the Mexican state of Jalisco, where it is often served on special occasions. While the original recipe is much more involved, this easy version can be made in your slow cooker with only a small investment of your time.
- 2 pounds goat meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups vegetable or beef broth
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin
- In a slow cooker, add vegetable oil, onion, and garlic over high heat; let cook for 1 hour, or until translucent.
- Add all other ingredients, and return to cook on high for 6 hours. Serve as a stew with bread, or on tacos garnished with queso fresco, cilantro, and lime.
Types of Meals to Make With Goat Meat
Goat meat is extremely versatile and can be used in many different recipes. Probably the most common way to cook goat meat is by roasting it but it can also be used in curries, casseroles, stews, sautes, and many other dishes. It can even be ground or minced to make it easy to use in sausage recipes!
The meat’s rich flavor and texture also makes it great for making tacos, fajitas, or even just adding to a salad. Goat meat can be used in any dish that calls for beef because of its similar taste and texture. Though this animal protein is common in many different cultures around the world, it has become more popular in the United States in recent years. Goat meat is not only delicious but it offers an exciting new taste to try!
Where to Buy Goat Meat
If you’re curious to taste goat meat for yourself, you’re in luck: Since it’s not classified as an exotic animal, there are many purveyors of fine goat meat both online and in person.
For the widest variety of cuts at completely reasonable prices, ElkUSA is an excellent resource. Their cleaned and trimmed stew meat packages are ideal for either of the recipes listed above.
It’s worth noting, however, that many Asian and Mexican markets in cities across the United States will carry goat meat. Inquire at the butcher counter of your nearest ethnic market, and you’ll be well on your way towards developing a relationship with your local butcher — an effort that will be worth its weight in gold the next time you’re looking for a specialty cut.
FAQs about Goat Meat
Here are some common questions about Goat Meat.
What do you call goat meat?
Goat meat is called goat meat. It does not have a unique culinary term like pork for pig or beef for cow. That has less to do with any culinary reason, and more to do with how the English language evolved and borrowed words from Latin languages during the time of the Norman Invasion.
What does goat meat look like?
It has a dark red color, with some marbling and more fat than beef or pork. Interestingly, it also has a less pronounced flavor than beef which makes some people say goat meat “tastes better,” while others find the taste of all three types to be comparable.
What is goat meat good for?
Goat meat is good for the diet as it is high in protein, less fat than beef or pork, and can help lower cholesterol. It’s also typically cheaper than beef – about half the price of other meats on sale at supermarkets. Although goat meat does not have a unique culinary term like pork for pig or beef for cow, it has been popular in many different cultures from around the world who have cooked with this type of animal protein for centuries! There are many ways to cook with goat meat as well as recipes that taste great because of its rich flavor and texture. The variety of meals one can make out of goat meat ranges from tacos to casseroles to stews. It can even be minced or ground to make it easy to use in sausage recipes! With so many benefits, goat meat should definitely be consumed by everyone and not just for special occasions like many people think.
How much does goat meat cost?
Goat meat can cost anywhere from $5.00 to $30.00 per pound depending on factors like the breed, the cut, and how fresh it is at purchase.
What does curry goat taste like?
Curry goat refers to the meat that is cooked in a spicy curry sauce, which can be prepared with masala, tomato paste, onions, garlic, ginger.
How long does it take to raise a meat goat?
In general, a goat can be raised and slaughtered within 12 to 16 months.
Where does most goat meat come from?
Goat meat can come from domesticated goats, as well as wild animal populations. In North America, most goat meat comes from small, local hobby farms.
Why is goat meat not sold in stores?
Most goat meat comes from small, local hobby farms. There are not many processing plants for meat to be sold in stores due to the limited number of animals processed. Goat is still primarily found in ethnic areas or at farmers’ markets; processing plants manufacture primarily beef, chicken, and pork products that are then delivered to grocery stores.
Why is goat meat so expensive?
It’s expensive to raise goat for slaughter, and it typically takes about two years before a goat can be sold. Direct marketing and limited production facilities result in higher costs.