Saturday, April 7, 2012

GOAT MEAT IN CANADA AND RECIPES

October 15, 2008

With Goat, a Rancher Breaks Away From the Herd

By KIM SEVERSON



BOLINAS, Calif.



BILL NIMAN is not the rancher he once was.



Last year Mr. Niman walked away from the meat company he started in the 1970s with not much more than a handful of cattle and a political philosophy built on self-sufficiency.



Niman Ranch, which takes in annual sales of $85 million, was founded on the notion that the better an animal is treated, the better the meat will be. His beef was so good that in the early 1980s Alice Waters made it the first proper-noun meat on the menu at her Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse. His pigs, raised humanely by 600 family farms in Iowa, provide pork for the Chipotle chain’s carnitas. Niman Ranch bacon, hot dogs and sausage fill grocery cases around the country.



But Mr. Niman is no longer a part of the company. Angry and discouraged after prolonged battles with a new management team over money and animal protocols, he left in August 2007 with a modest severance check and a small amount of stock.



He can’t use his surname to sell meat, and he had to surrender the small herd of breeding cattle that lived on his ranch here, about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. The cattle were direct descendants of the ones he tended back in the days of counterculture, not profit margin.



But Mr. Niman, 63, is done licking his wounds. With a herd of goats and a young vegetarian wife he nicknamed Porkchop by his side, he is jumping back into the meat game.



“I think I am returning to my original roots,” said Mr. Niman, who still lives in the little house he built on ranchland that kisses the Pacific Ocean.



Mr. Niman was raised in Minnesota, and moved to California to teach poor children. It was better than being drafted. In 1968, he headed north to Bolinas, a refuge for poets and intellectuals, to practice the counterculture movement’s back-to-the-land philosophy.



His initial herd came in a barter with a local ranching family: his first wife, who died in a horseback riding accident in the 1970s, had tutored one of the family's daughters; the Nimans were paid with six newborn calves.He has never left Bolinas, although now he watches over 1,000 acres instead of 11, and the land was turned over to the Point Reyes National Seashore.



He and Nicolette Hahn Niman, an environmental lawyer, were married five years ago, and now they are raising what they hope will be the best-tasting animals around. They have a handful of premier cattle that fatten only on pasture and a flock of traditional turkey breeds they personally chauffeured from Kansas to Bolinas last spring. Mr. Niman also has an organic pig project going in Iowa.



But he hopes goat will be the cornerstone of his comeback. That’s in part because he has more of them around, and because he sees a wide-open market for pristine, pasture-raised goat meat. The guy is, after all, a businessman.



“I don’t need to get 10 percent of the market anymore,” he said. “I just want to be the best.”



Chefs on both coasts are fast discovering his goat meat, although it is still available only in limited amounts, under the name BN Ranch.



In June, Mr. Niman stopped by Eccolo in Berkeley with a piece of shoulder, a loin, a leg and a rack of ribs. The chef and owner, Christopher Lee, now breaks down one or two of the 30-pound goat carcasses a week.



“It was succulent,” Mr. Lee said. “It was mild. It was just perfect.”



Like other chefs who have begun to cook with goat, Mr. Lee predicts a bright future for the meat.



“We’ve all cooked every part of the lamb a million times and we all know about grass-fed beef and aging beef,” he said. “The goat is the next thing.”



The meat Mr. Niman and a handful of other boutique farmers are producing is more delicate than the older, imported goat that is served at Pakistani curry houses, Jamaican jerk stands and taco trucks all over New York.



At a recent goat tasting in the Blue Hill at Stone Barns kitchen in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., Mr. Niman’s young goat was compared to pan-seared and roasted loin and shoulder cuts from both a small Vermont grower and what the chef Dan Barber called “commodity goat.”



The commodity goat was slightly musty and chewy. The Vermont goat was as tender and mild as lamb. The Niman goat was like lamb, too, but a lamb with a big personality. The meat was sweet and vegetal. The fat, what little of it there was, tasted rich but felt lighter than olive oil.



At Thyme for Goat, a recent collaboration between four goat farms within 25 miles of each other in Maine, goat is taking off, in a small way. People are attracted to the way it is raised and its healthful properties. Goat meat doesn’t have the tallow of lamb, and contains about half the fat of chicken, according to a Department of Agriculture analysis.



“A lot of folks said nobody in Maine is going to buy goat meat,” said Marge Kilkelly, who does marketing for the group. “We’ve found just the opposite.”



The breed of goat is important. Like the Maine collective, Mr. Niman raises some stout, muscular Boer goats. But he is particularly fond of meat from lighter framed Spanish goats, which sometimes mix with the Boer.



“What Bill is so good at is the genetics,” Mr. Barber said. “He’s the master.”



For about half the year, Mr. Niman lets the goats roam his California ranch. In the summer and fall, when the California grass is brown, they move to Oregon. He also works with ranchers raising two other herds to his specifications in California and Oregon.



Goats and cattle work particularly well together in a pasture. Goats don’t like clover or rye grass, which the cattle love, but they make fast work of scotch broom, poison oak and other plants that can take over good grassland.



“Nature is so perfect,” Mr. Niman said.



His longtime followers may be surprised that he is now raising his cattle entirely on pasture, without switching to a diet of grain a few months before slaughter.



He built Niman Ranch on the idea that raising a quality, year-round beef supply was like making dessert. You bake the cake with grass and frost it with grain. The method produces well-marbled meat with that traditional corn-fed flavor most Americans grew up eating. And it provides beef year-round. Animals that feed on pasture are fat enough to be slaughtered only at certain times of year.



But just as Niman Ranch was becoming a big, nationally recognized brand, Mr. Niman fell victim to a move toward meat purity that he and Orville Schell, his former partner, had started. Several chefs and food writers came to believe that a diet of corn was ruinous for cattle’s health and the environment.



Although Mr. Niman’s beef was quite different from conventional corn-fed beef, that he fed his animals with any grain at all was unacceptable to some chefs. Ms. Waters decided to drop it from the menu in 2002 and turn to more seasonal, all-grass options.



“It made me very sad but I just said we are at a moment in time and I just can’t do this anymore,” she said, adding that she “couldn’t be more delighted that he’s come back to his senses.”



Still, Mr. Niman continued to build the company. He took on a parade of investors. A new management team took over in 2006, led by Jeff Swain, who had been at the company that produces Coleman Natural Beef, Mr. Niman’s biggest competitor.



With the new team came changes, many of them made over Mr. Niman’s protests. The company sold its custom butchering plant in Oakland and prepared to sell its high-end feedlot in Idaho. Niman Ranch began to purchase cattle ready for slaughter from feedlots over which the company had little control, a practice that Mr. Niman said was “against my religion.”



Mr. Niman said feed standards dropped and animals were transported distances longer than 500 miles, which he said stresses them too much.



Mr. Swain said feed and care standards for the 400 head of cattle they process a week have not dropped. Contractors follow a list of protocols that are similar to those Mr. Niman developed.



And although some animals are being transported longer than 500 miles for slaughter, he said they are allowed to rest for 24 hours before they are dispatched.



The real issue, Mr. Swain said, is that Mr. Niman was a poor businessman. The cattle portion of the program was a money-loser, unlike the pork business, which processes about 3,200 animals a week. That remains unchanged, Mr. Swain said. “When we got involved, Niman would raise money and go through it and raise money and go through it,” he said. “Any change to Bill’s business model he didn’t like. We needed to make the company financially sustainable.”



The more Mr. Niman complained that the protocols he developed were being eased out, the more marginalized he became. Finally, Mr. Niman walked away, heading back to focus on the ranch where he has lived since the 1970s. Nicolette, 22 years his junior and a devout vegetarian, was there to comfort him. “It was such a dark time for Bill,” she said.



While Mr. Niman fought his battles, his wife learned how to work the ranch. She also finished her book, “Righteous Porkchop” (Collins Living, March). It is part memoir and part exposé, focusing on her work fighting industrial meat companies as a lawyer for the Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr.’s environmental organization.



So how does that vegetarian thing work out? She accepts the role animals play in the human food chain, and he never pressures her to eat meat. She doesn’t cook meat at home, but doesn’t forbid Mr. Niman from throwing some chorizo on a slice of homemade pizza. He tends to go out for steaks, especially when he travels.



The one place they compromised was over a couple of her favorite cattle. She became emotionally attached, so he promised the cow and steer will not die for meat.



“You’ve got the rancher who came back home and the lovely, smart animal welfare girl who is 20 years younger and has really gone to work on him,” said Betty Fussell, who writes about Mr. Niman in her new book, “Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef” (Harcourt, October). “It is the story of the cowboy and the lady, in a way.”



Other people at his stage of life might be planning how to ride off into the beautiful Pacific sunset, satisfied with having made a real change in how people eat. But not Mr. Niman, who acts as if he’s just getting started.



“It’s the first time I’ve had a true partner at my side,” he said of the last five years. “I feel like together, we are pioneering the October 15, 2008

With Goat, a Rancher Breaks Away From the Herd

By KIM SEVERSON



BOLINAS, Calif.



BILL NIMAN is not the rancher he once was.



Last year Mr. Niman walked away from the meat company he started in the 1970s with not much more than a handful of cattle and a political philosophy built on self-sufficiency.



Niman Ranch, which takes in annual sales of $85 million, was founded on the notion that the better an animal is treated, the better the meat will be. His beef was so good that in the early 1980s Alice Waters made it the first proper-noun meat on the menu at her Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse. His pigs, raised humanely by 600 family farms in Iowa, provide pork for the Chipotle chain’s carnitas. Niman Ranch bacon, hot dogs and sausage fill grocery cases around the country.



But Mr. Niman is no longer a part of the company. Angry and discouraged after prolonged battles with a new management team over money and animal protocols, he left in August 2007 with a modest severance check and a small amount of stock.



He can’t use his surname to sell meat, and he had to surrender the small herd of breeding cattle that lived on his ranch here, about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. The cattle were direct descendants of the ones he tended back in the days of counterculture, not profit margin.



But Mr. Niman, 63, is done licking his wounds. With a herd of goats and a young vegetarian wife he nicknamed Porkchop by his side, he is jumping back into the meat game.



“I think I am returning to my original roots,” said Mr. Niman, who still lives in the little house he built on ranchland that kisses the Pacific Ocean.



Mr. Niman was raised in Minnesota, and moved to California to teach poor children. It was better than being drafted. In 1968, he headed north to Bolinas, a refuge for poets and intellectuals, to practice the counterculture movement’s back-to-the-land philosophy.



His initial herd came in a barter with a local ranching family: his first wife, who died in a horseback riding accident in the 1970s, had tutored one of the family's daughters; the Nimans were paid with six newborn calves.He has never left Bolinas, although now he watches over 1,000 acres instead of 11, and the land was turned over to the Point Reyes National Seashore.



He and Nicolette Hahn Niman, an environmental lawyer, were married five years ago, and now they are raising what they hope will be the best-tasting animals around. They have a handful of premier cattle that fatten only on pasture and a flock of traditional turkey breeds they personally chauffeured from Kansas to Bolinas last spring. Mr. Niman also has an organic pig project going in Iowa.



But he hopes goat will be the cornerstone of his comeback. That’s in part because he has more of them around, and because he sees a wide-open market for pristine, pasture-raised goat meat. The guy is, after all, a businessman.



“I don’t need to get 10 percent of the market anymore,” he said. “I just want to be the best.”



Chefs on both coasts are fast discovering his goat meat, although it is still available only in limited amounts, under the name BN Ranch.



In June, Mr. Niman stopped by Eccolo in Berkeley with a piece of shoulder, a loin, a leg and a rack of ribs. The chef and owner, Christopher Lee, now breaks down one or two of the 30-pound goat carcasses a week.



“It was succulent,” Mr. Lee said. “It was mild. It was just perfect.”



Like other chefs who have begun to cook with goat, Mr. Lee predicts a bright future for the meat.



“We’ve all cooked every part of the lamb a million times and we all know about grass-fed beef and aging beef,” he said. “The goat is the next thing.”



The meat Mr. Niman and a handful of other boutique farmers are producing is more delicate than the older, imported goat that is served at Pakistani curry houses, Jamaican jerk stands and taco trucks all over New York.



At a recent goat tasting in the Blue Hill at Stone Barns kitchen in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., Mr. Niman’s young goat was compared to pan-seared and roasted loin and shoulder cuts from both a small Vermont grower and what the chef Dan Barber called “commodity goat.”



The commodity goat was slightly musty and chewy. The Vermont goat was as tender and mild as lamb. The Niman goat was like lamb, too, but a lamb with a big personality. The meat was sweet and vegetal. The fat, what little of it there was, tasted rich but felt lighter than olive oil.



At Thyme for Goat, a recent collaboration between four goat farms within 25 miles of each other in Maine, goat is taking off, in a small way. People are attracted to the way it is raised and its healthful properties. Goat meat doesn’t have the tallow of lamb, and contains about half the fat of chicken, according to a Department of Agriculture analysis.



“A lot of folks said nobody in Maine is going to buy goat meat,” said Marge Kilkelly, who does marketing for the group. “We’ve found just the opposite.”



The breed of goat is important. Like the Maine collective, Mr. Niman raises some stout, muscular Boer goats. But he is particularly fond of meat from lighter framed Spanish goats, which sometimes mix with the Boer.



“What Bill is so good at is the genetics,” Mr. Barber said. “He’s the master.”



For about half the year, Mr. Niman lets the goats roam his California ranch. In the summer and fall, when the California grass is brown, they move to Oregon. He also works with ranchers raising two other herds to his specifications in California and Oregon.



Goats and cattle work particularly well together in a pasture. Goats don’t like clover or rye grass, which the cattle love, but they make fast work of scotch broom, poison oak and other plants that can take over good grassland.



“Nature is so perfect,” Mr. Niman said.



His longtime followers may be surprised that he is now raising his cattle entirely on pasture, without switching to a diet of grain a few months before slaughter.



He built Niman Ranch on the idea that raising a quality, year-round beef supply was like making dessert. You bake the cake with grass and frost it with grain. The method produces well-marbled meat with that traditional corn-fed flavor most Americans grew up eating. And it provides beef year-round. Animals that feed on pasture are fat enough to be slaughtered only at certain times of year.



But just as Niman Ranch was becoming a big, nationally recognized brand, Mr. Niman fell victim to a move toward meat purity that he and Orville Schell, his former partner, had started. Several chefs and food writers came to believe that a diet of corn was ruinous for cattle’s health and the environment.



Although Mr. Niman’s beef was quite different from conventional corn-fed beef, that he fed his animals with any grain at all was unacceptable to some chefs. Ms. Waters decided to drop it from the menu in 2002 and turn to more seasonal, all-grass options.



“It made me very sad but I just said we are at a moment in time and I just can’t do this anymore,” she said, adding that she “couldn’t be more delighted that he’s come back to his senses.”



Still, Mr. Niman continued to build the company. He took on a parade of investors. A new management team took over in 2006, led by Jeff Swain, who had been at the company that produces Coleman Natural Beef, Mr. Niman’s biggest competitor.



With the new team came changes, many of them made over Mr. Niman’s protests. The company sold its custom butchering plant in Oakland and prepared to sell its high-end feedlot in Idaho. Niman Ranch began to purchase cattle ready for slaughter from feedlots over which the company had little control, a practice that Mr. Niman said was “against my religion.”



Mr. Niman said feed standards dropped and animals were transported distances longer than 500 miles, which he said stresses them too much.



Mr. Swain said feed and care standards for the 400 head of cattle they process a week have not dropped. Contractors follow a list of protocols that are similar to those Mr. Niman developed.



And although some animals are being transported longer than 500 miles for slaughter, he said they are allowed to rest for 24 hours before they are dispatched.



The real issue, Mr. Swain said, is that Mr. Niman was a poor businessman. The cattle portion of the program was a money-loser, unlike the pork business, which processes about 3,200 animals a week. That remains unchanged, Mr. Swain said. “When we got involved, Niman would raise money and go through it and raise money and go through it,” he said. “Any change to Bill’s business model he didn’t like. We needed to make the company financially sustainable.”



The more Mr. Niman complained that the protocols he developed were being eased out, the more marginalized he became. Finally, Mr. Niman walked away, heading back to focus on the ranch where he has lived since the 1970s. Nicolette, 22 years his junior and a devout vegetarian, was there to comfort him. “It was such a dark time for Bill,” she said.



While Mr. Niman fought his battles, his wife learned how to work the ranch. She also finished her book, “Righteous Porkchop” (Collins Living, March). It is part memoir and part exposé, focusing on her work fighting industrial meat companies as a lawyer for the Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr.’s environmental organization.



So how does that vegetarian thing work out? She accepts the role animals play in the human food chain, and he never pressures her to eat meat. She doesn’t cook meat at home, but doesn’t forbid Mr. Niman from throwing some chorizo on a slice of homemade pizza. He tends to go out for steaks, especially when he travels.



The one place they compromised was over a couple of her favorite cattle. She became emotionally attached, so he promised the cow and steer will not die for meat.



“You’ve got the rancher who came back home and the lovely, smart animal welfare girl who is 20 years younger and has really gone to work on him,” said Betty Fussell, who writes about Mr. Niman in her new book, “Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef” (Harcourt, October). “It is the story of the cowboy and the lady, in a way.”



Other people at his stage of life might be planning how to ride off into the beautiful Pacific sunset, satisfied with having made a real change in how people eat. But not Mr. Niman, who acts as if he’s just getting started.



“It’s the first time I’ve had a true partner at my side,” he said of the last five years. “I feel like together, we are pioneering the next generation of animal husbandry.”



The Shopping List



Sources of high-quality goat meat:



BY MAIL



Preferred Meats BN Ranch goat meat from Bill Niman; (800) 397-6328. www.preferredmeats.com.



COPELAND FAMILY FARMS From the California-Oregon border; (866) 969-4628, goatmeats.com.



THYME FOR GOAT From Maine; (207) 737-8737, thymeforgoat.com.



IN STORES



BIANCARDI MEATS 2350 Arthur Avenue (186th Street), the Bronx; (718) 733-4058.



BI-RITE MARKET Bill Niman’s goat marketed as “Bill’s Bolinas goat.” 3639 18th Street, San Francisco; (415) 241-9760, biritemarket.com.



LYNNHAVEN FARMS At Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan; (845) 744-6089, lynnhavennubians.com.

next generation of animal husbandry.”









Fresh goat meat finding favor on upscale menus



Janet Fletcher, Chronicle Staff Writer



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Goat Brochettes with Hummus & Grilled Zucchini. Chronicle...



Diners at Oakland's Oliveto restaurant earlier this month encountered some meat options rarely seen on upscale menus: sheep's milk ravioli with goat sugo, seared goat loin with purslane and lemon, goat sausages with mint and honey, and goat chops fried Milanese style.



For several evenings in a row, Oliveto chef Paul Canales ran two appetizers, one pasta dish and three entrees showcasing goat, alongside his more conventional Italian-inspired offerings.



"Every night, the goat items were the top sellers," reports Canales, a sign that this flavor-packed red meat, long a staple in Bay Area Latino and South Asian markets, may finally be broadening its reach.



Over the past few years, a handful of local ranchers have added goats to their livestock mix. And restaurants with Mediterranean leanings - including Kokkari in San Francisco, Evvia in Palo Alto and Berkeley's Cafe Rouge and Eccolo - have snapped them up.



Bill Niman, the Niman Ranch founder who is no longer affiliated with that company, has just begun selling the first goats from his Bolinas property, targeting the Bay Area's high-end restaurants. Nobody is predicting the demise of the porterhouse steak, but goat meat looks to be poised for takeoff.



"I had a hard time selling it for a long, long time," says Marsha McBride, chef-owner of Cafe Rouge, who buys goat from McCormack Ranch in Rio Vista. But dishes like grilled goat brochettes with zucchini and hummus now find plenty of takers in her dining room, and the chef says she has to fight the Cafe Rouge retail meat counter for her share of the carcass.



On one recent weekend, Eccolo's menu offered spit-roasted Niman goat with Spanish rice cooked in the fireplace. At Kokkari, chef Erik Cosselmon frequently spit-roasts whole goats with a basting of olive oil, lemon and oregano. Sometimes he braises the shoulder in a Greek-style stew with tomato, cinnamon, allspice and currants. He buys his goat from Marin Sun Farms or Don Watson's Napa Valley Lamb Co., both operations that have added goats to complement their main business.

Popular worldwide



Goat meat is popular in Mexican kitchens, where it is often rubbed with chiles and spices, then pit-roasted or steamed for birria. Indians and Pakistanis use it in curries, biryanis and yogurt-thickened kormas (braised) dishes. Niloufer Ichaporia King, the San Francisco author of "My Bombay Kitchen" (University of California Press, 2007), says that most Indian lamb recipes are more authentically made with goat. Greeks and Southern Italians celebrate Easter with roast baby goat, and curried goat is a Jamaican favorite.



But Americans who haven't grown up with goat on the table tend to dismiss it, convinced that it is strong-tasting and fatty.



"Everybody's expectation is a gamy, goaty taste," says Niman, who compares the flavor of his own goat to a cross between mild lamb and beef. Canales likens the Niman goat, which he used for his Oliveto dinners, to veal in its tenderness and delicacy. "It's just spectacular," echoes Eccolo chef Christopher Lee. "It's very mild in flavor."



Virtually all the fresh goat available at Bay Area markets - whether the premium Marin Sun Farms brand, the McCormack Ranch goat at Cafe Rouge or the much less expensive goat at markets like Indus Food Center in Berkeley that sell halal meat (slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law) - are less fatty than lamb and more subtle in taste.



Marin Sun Farms owner David Evans says that his 6- to 8-month-old goats, at 10 to 15 percent fat, have about half as much fat as the average lamb.



Marin Sun Farms grazes about 80 goats alongside its better-known cattle on a ranch in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The cattle end their days as grass-fed beef, sold at some farmers' markets and to several local restaurants. The goats serve as four-legged mowing machines, munching on a wide spectrum of shrubs and undesirable plants - like yellow star thistle, blackberries and poison oak - that cattle won't touch. Their appetite for weeds helps keep the pasture in better condition.



"If you really want to devastate a brushy area, goats will do it," says Watson, who pairs goats with sheep in his Wooly Weeders business, a mobile livestock mowing service. Watson's hungry helpers keep the landscape under control at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma and at parks throughout the North Bay.



"They're truly a by-product," says Watson of the goats he sells for meat. When they're no longer needed for mowing, their highest use, the goats are brought down from the steep terrain they prefer to flat grassland. There, deprived of their usual workout, they gradually become more tender.



Bob Blanchard of Old Creek Ranch, a cattle operation on the Central Coast, began raising goats about 15 years ago. He sells about 100 head a year at the Palo Alto and Aptos farmers' markets and a handful of other retail outlets.

Demand is up



"Goat demand is growing," confirms Blanchard. "And we have the most diverse customer base you can imagine."



Most local ranchers are using one of two superior breeds of meat goats (as opposed to dairy goats), or a cross between them. The so-called Spanish meat goat, the South African Boer goat and their crosses dominate local herds. Shahid Salimi of Indus Food Center, who sells 60 to 80 goats a week from California and Texas ranches, describes the Boer meat as redder, the Spanish goat meat as pinker.



Breed aside, the size and age of the carcass affect the meat's tenderness and flavor. Salimi advises shoppers to look at the color of the bone: younger animals have white bones; older animals' bones are more yellow. In general, younger and smaller animals yield more tender meat with milder taste, but they also have a lower ratio of meat to bone.



Despite the popularity of goat in the Mexican community, the Bay Area's Latino markets typically carry only frozen goat from Australia or New Zealand instead of the fresh local product. For special occasions, like a daughter's quinceañera (15th birthday), Mexicans will often buy a whole live goat from a nearby ranch and butcher it themselves, says Jeannie McCormack of McCormack Ranch in Rio Vista, who has sold many goats that way. But for everyday cooking, they settle for the lower-priced frozen meat, which tends to be a little tougher and stronger.



"It's really gamy and sticky," says Luis Contreras of the frozen imported goat. Contreras is co-executive chef at Mexico DF in San Francisco, a high-end restaurant with goat tacos on the menu. Contreras cures the meat overnight in a chile and Tequila rub, then steams it in plantain leaves before shredding it for tacos. "The (goats) from California are not sticky; they're light," says Contreras. "And I don't think they're fatty at all."



The growing availability of fresh goat opens up myriad possibilities for home cooks. Charlene Cannard, a private chef in Sonoma County who cooks goat often, says she treats it just like lamb, adjusting the cooking time according to the age of the animal.



The accompanying recipes provide two easy ways to get acquainted with this up-and-coming red meat.

Goat at a glance



With more California ranchers raising goat, the fresh meat is increasingly available to chefs and home cooks.



How to cook it: Goat can stand in for lamb in most recipes, and the commercial cuts are similar to lamb cuts (shoulder, leg, loin, etc.).



What to look for: Younger animals will have white bones and yield tender, milder-tasting meat. Older animals' bones will be yellow and have a higher ratio of meat to bone.



What it costs: Prices for the fresh meat range widely. Bone-in goat shoulder runs about $4.99 a pound at the halal markets in the Bay Area, $7.99 a pound from Marin Sun Farms stand at the Ferry Plaza and Marin Civic Center farmers' markets, and $11.99 a pound for the Niman goat at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco.



Where to try it: Restaurants including Oliveto (Oakland), Kokkari (San Francisco), Evvia (Palo Alto), Cafe Rouge and Eccolo (both in Berkeley) serve fresh goat dishes. Many Indian and Mexican restaurants also feature goat specialties.



- J.F.

Where to buy fresh goat meat



These shops sell fresh goat meat regularly, but call first to check availability.



Alhambra Halal Meat. 3111 24th St. (at Folsom), San Francisco; (415) 525-4499.



Besan's International Market. 480 San Mateo Ave. (near 12th Street), San Bruno; (650) 872-7741.



Bi-Rite Market. 3639 18th St. (near Guerrero), San Francisco; (415) 241-9760.



Cafe Rouge Meat Market. 1782 Fourth St. (near Hearst), Berkeley; (510) 525-2707.



Halal Food and Grocery Market. 1964 San Pablo Ave. (at University Avenue), Berkeley; (510) 845-2000.



Indus Food Center. 1920 San Pablo Ave. (near University Avenue), Berkeley; (510) 549-3663.



Old Creek Ranch at the California Avenue Farmers' Market. California Avenue at El Camino Real, Palo Alto. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays.



Salama Halal Meat. 604 Geary St. (at Jones), San Francisco; (415) 474-0359.



- J.F.

Greek Goat & Fennel Stew



Serves 4



Adapted from "The Glorious Foods of Greece," by Diane Kochilas (William Morrow, 2001). You can make this with boneless shoulder, but the bones add flavor and texture to the sauce.



* 2 pounds bone-in goat shoulder, sawed into 8 pieces by the butcher

* -- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

* 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

* 3 cloves garlic, minced

* 4 scallions, white and green parts, in 2-inch pieces

* 2 teaspoons tomato paste

* 1/2 cup minced fresh dill

* 1/2 cup minced fennel leaves

* 2 medium fennel bulbs, in 6 wedges each

* 3 tablespoons ouzo or Pernod, or to taste



Instructions: Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat and brown well all over, 10-12 minutes. Set the meat aside.



Let the skillet cool slightly, then add the garlic and return the skillet to medium-low heat. Saute until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the scallions, tomato paste, dill and fennel leaves. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute to dissolve any crusty bits of meat on the bottom of the skillet.



Return meat to the skillet. Add fennel wedges, tucking them between the chunks of meat. Add 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, cover and adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until goat is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Stir in the ouzo or Pernod.



If the juices in the skillet seem too thin, use tongs to transfer the goat meat and fennel wedges to a platter. Raise the heat to high and simmer until the juices are reduced and slightly thickened. Return the meat and fennel to the skillet and reheat gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly and serve.



Per serving: 345 calories, 39 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 103 mg cholesterol, 234 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.

Goat Brochettes with Hummus & Grilled Zucchini



Serves 4



Cafe Rouge in Berkeley occasionally serves marinated goat brochettes on a bed of hummus with grilled zucchini. The spice rub in this recipe was adapted from "Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean," by Ana Sortun (William Morrow, 2006). Sortun likes to powder her dried herbs by rubbing them through a fine sieve. You can also use a spice grinder. Aleppo pepper, a moderately hot dried red pepper, is available from Whole Spice Market in Napa (wholespice.com or 707-256-0700).



* The spice rub:

* 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed

* 1 1/2 teaspoons sieved dried oregano (see introduction)

* 1 1/2 teaspoons sieved dried mint (see introduction)

* 3/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (see introduction) or Spanish pimentón de la Vera (mild, bittersweet or hot)

* 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

* 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

* 1 3/4 to 2 pounds boneless goat leg

* 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

* The hummus:

* 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed well if canned)

* 1/4 cup tahini

* 1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice, or more if needed

* 1/4 to 1/3 cup water or chickpea cooking liquid, or more if needed

* 2 cloves garlic, minced to a paste with salt

* 1/2 teaspoon paprika

* -- Kosher salt

* The zucchini:

* 6 small zucchini (4 to 5 inches long and 1 inch in diameter), halved lengthwise

* 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil



For the spice rub: Toast the cumin seed in a small, dry skillet over moderate heat, shaking the skillet often until the cumin becomes fragrant and just begins to smoke. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pound or grind fine in a mortar or spice grinder.



In a small bowl, combine the ground cumin, oregano, mint, Aleppo and black pepper, and salt. Stir to blend.



Trim the meat of all visible fat and sinew. Slide a knife under the paper-thin external membrane on the outside of the leg and remove it. Cut the meat into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes. Toss it with the oil, then with the spice rub. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.



Thread the meat on four metal or bamboo skewers. (If using bamboo skewers, soak them in hot water first for 30 minutes so they don't burn on the grill.)



For the hummus: In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahini, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup water or chickpea cooking liquid, garlic and paprika. Puree until smooth, adding more lemon juice and either water or chickpea cooking liquid as needed to make a smooth and balanced puree. Season with salt.



Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Toss the zucchini with the olive oil and salt. Cook the zucchini directly over the coals or the gas until charred on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side, then transfer to the perimeter of the grill so they finish cooking over indirect heat. Cover the grill, leaving vents open, and cook until the zucchini are tender, about 5 minutes more. Set aside and keep warm.



Put the brochettes on the grill directly over the heat source. Cook to desired doneness, turning so the meat browns on all sides, 7-8 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the heat and let rest about 5 minutes.



Heat the hummus gently over moderate heat until it is warm but not hot, adding water if needed to thin. Divide among four dinner plates and use the back of a spoon to spread it into a thin bed. Remove the goat from the skewers and place on top of the hummus. Arrange the grilled zucchini around the meat and hummus. Serve immediately.



Per serving: 535 calories, 52 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 25 g fat (4 g saturated), 113 mg cholesterol, 789 mg sodium, 11 g fiber.



E-mail Janet Fletcher at jfletcher@sfchronicle.com.



http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/07/30/FDNP11R7VE.DTL



This article appeared on page F - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle



The Shopping List



Sources of high-quality goat meat:



BY MAIL



Preferred Meats BN Ranch goat meat from Bill Niman; (800) 397-6328. www.preferredmeats.com.



COPELAND FAMILY FARMS From the California-Oregon border; (866) 969-4628, goatmeats.com.



THYME FOR GOAT From Maine; (207) 737-8737, thymeforgoat.com.



IN STORES



BIANCARDI MEATS 2350 Arthur Avenue (186th Street), the Bronx; (718) 733-4058.



BI-RITE MARKET Bill Niman’s goat marketed as “Bill’s Bolinas goat.” 3639 18th Street, San Francisco; (415) 241-9760, biritemarket.com.



LYNNHAVEN FARMS At Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan; (845) 744-6089, lynnhavennubians.com.

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