Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dominican Stewed Goat











     Dominican Republic Style Stewed Goat         
     There are regions in the Dominican Republic and nearly every Caribbean country where goats are raised on farms that are located on rough terrain.  Rough terrain is fine for farming goats, because these animals prefer harsh living conditions that other animals avoid, solely as a defense mechanism.  Goats also eat plants that most other animals avoid.  
     Goats literally can survive just about anywhere and they will eat just about anything.  This is why goat is one of the most popular local cuisine meat choices worldwide.  
     In countries that have vast lush grazing land, there is no need to depend on raising goats for meat.  Goat is farmed for milk, like dairy farm cattle.  
     In this modern age, members of mainstream society sometimes seek alternative healthy meat options.  Pigs, chickens and cattle often depend on drugs, antibiotics and hormones for survival.  The thought of consuming traces of these chemical compounds terrifies many people and rightly so.  Often the consequences of consuming artificial compounds is evident many years after the fact. 
     What alternative meats do naturalists seek?  Meat from animals that are not farmed like they are run through a factory where the only thing that matters is bottom line profits.  Meat from animals that are disease resistant and free range animals that do not depend on artificially manipulated feed are the top choices.  
     Wild game or free range farmed wild game are the best alternative options for natural meat.  Second choice options are farmed animals that are self sustainable, like ostrich, kangaroo, rabbit and of course goat.  This is where classism enters the picture, because high society members would not be caught dead eating what the healthy poor folks and local natives eat!  In essence, the classism psyche works in favor of the working class, because if high society members all preferred goat meat, the price of goat meat would shoot through the roof!  Goat meat has a reputation for being a down home food staple that sells for a low price, so high society members leave it alone.  
     The low price is why goat meat is one of the best alternative meat choices.  There will be no snobbish connoisseur sitting at the table complaining about how the food was not cooked to perfection when a goat stew is served!  Connoisseurs are usually too high and mighty to eat goat!  Down home folks that have a big appetite from doing hard work all day actually relish the thought of a big bowl of hearty goat stew.  So be it!  It is all relative.     
        
     Hot chile peppers are a common ingredient in Dominican cuisine and there is something about chile peppers that increases strength and endurance.  Folks that eat hot chile peppers are usually strong willed people.  
     Honestly, chile pepper heat is relative to the beholder.  One who eats hot chile peppers on a regular basis will build up a tolerance to the chile pepper heat.  Chile pepper food that may seem mild tasting to an avid chile pepper eater, might cause an average person that eats no hot peppers at all, to describe the flavor as being way too spicy hot to eat.  This is the law of chile pepper jungle and this is why mercy must be applied, when tempting newcomers to try spicy chile pepper food.  
  
     Plenty of traditional Dominican food is prepared spicy hot, but the spicy flavor is within reason.  The traditional goal of spicy recipes in tropical climate regions is to cause a small amount of perspiration, in order to create a cool feeling that provides relief from the heat.  When just the right amount of chile peppers are in a recipe, the food is spicy, but it is not too spicy hot to easily enjoy.  Just the right level of spicy heat creates the desired cooling effect.  
     This is why Scotch Bonnet Peppers are part of so many recipes in the Caribbean region.  A little bit of Bonnie Pepper goes a long way and small amount provides relief from tropical heat!

     Ocho Rios Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce
     Ocho Rios Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce can be found in nearly every Caribbean food market.  Almost every Caribbean restaurant has bottles of Ocho Rios Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce in the kitchen and a bottle is placed on every dining room table.  Ocho Rios Scotch Pepper Sauce is prized in the entire Caribbean region and Florida.  This Scotch Bonnet Pepper sauce is one of the best!  
     The flavor of Ocho Rios Hot Sauce is easy to imagine.  It is pure slow cooked Scotch Bonnet Peppers with a hint of mustard.  This hot sauce goes well with seafood, chicken and basically just about any Caribbean food.  
     Since fresh Scotch Bonnet Peppers are not readily available in areas outside of the Caribbean region, there are two options.  Orange habanero peppers can be substituted, but the flavor profile is not really the same as a Scotch Bonnet Pepper, even though these chile pepper varietals are closely related.  Trinidad Scorpion Peppers have a Scotch Bonnet flavor, but Scorpion Pepper are at least ten times as spicy hot, so it is all to easy to add too much spicy heat to a traditional recipe.  
     The best option, if no fresh Scotch Bonnet Peppers are available, is to purchase a bottle of Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce.  Bottled Ocho Rios Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce is commonly used by Caribbean chefs and cooks as a cooking sauce, because the flavor is pure and unadulterated.  
     If there are no local Caribbean food markets in the area, this hot sauce can be purchased at internet stores, like Amazon.  Ocho Rios Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce is product that comes from the Caribbean island nation, Saint Lucia near Barbados.  This hot sauce is highly respected and the quality is superb.  Highly recommended!  

     Dominican Stewed Goat:
     This recipe yields 1 large hearty portion!
     Goat meat is available at most locally owned butcher shops.  Because of low demand, it is usually sold frozen.  I purchased 3 pounds of goat stew meat at John Mull's Meats in Las Vegas.  The famous Road Kill Grill is part of the John Mull's Butcher Shop operation, so grab a plate of great BBQ while there!  
     Goat stew meat is cut into large bite size pieces.  The bones are attached to the meat.  Trimming off the bones is optional.  Leaving the bones attached to the stew meat is traditional, because the bones increase flavor in a stew.
     The level of spicy heat in this recipe is medium hot.  The spicy heat can be adjusted to personal taste by reducing or increasing the amount of Scotch Bonnet Peppers, Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce or habanero peppers.  Keep this in mind!  One half or one quarter of a Scotch Bonnet Pepper per recipe will yield a medium spicy hot flavor.  One whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper will create a very spicy hot stew!
     • The mild chiles in this recipe add flavor, without increasing the spicy heat.  Caribbean spices give this stew a unique tasty flavor. 
     • Bottles of Bitter Orange Juice can be found in Latino Food Markets.  Bitter Orange is Seville Orange Juice.
     • Cooking aromatic vegetables in molten sugar is a common Caribbean cooking technique.  Molten sugar pulls flavor out of whatever it makes contact with.   
     Step 1:  Place 10 to 12 ounces of large bite size pieces of goat stew meat in a container.  (Leave the bones attached, but trim off any small broken bone pieces or bones that have sharp edges.) 
     Add 3/4 cup of Seville Orange juice (Bitter Orange).
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Marinate the goat meat in a refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours.
     Drain the liquid off of the goat meat and discard it.  (Bitter orange juice tames the strong flavor and it tenderizes the meat!)
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot or sauteuse pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil.
     Add the marinated goat meat.
     Sauté till the meat is thoroughly browned on all sides.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Remove the goat meat from the pot and set it aside on a dish.
     Drain off any excess grease from the pot, but leave about 1 tablespoon of grease in the pot.
     Step 4:  Add 2 tablespoons of Piloncillo (or light brown sugar) to the pot.
     Simmer till the sugar is molten.  
     Step 5:  Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Add 1/2 cup of small chopped bermuda onion.
     Cook the onions and garlic in the bubbling molten sugar, till they are tender.
     Step 6:  Add 1/3 cup of bitter orange juice.
     Return the seared goat meat to the pot.
     Add enough water to cover the goat meat with 1" of extra liquid.
     Step 7:  Add 3/4 cup of canned tomato puree.
     Add 1 chopped plum tomato.
     Add 1 small chopped seeded Cubanelle Pepper or Banana Pepper.
     Add 1 small chopped seeded jalapeño pepper.  
     Add 2 teaspoons of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1 small laurel leaf.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 8:  Add 1/2 of a chopped fresh Scotch Bonnet Pepper or 1 tablespoon of Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce.  (Adjust to personal taste, but this stew should be on the spicy hot side.)
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped red bell pepper or roasted red bell pepper.  
     Add 3 or 4 pickle green tabasco peppers.  (optional) 
     Step 9:  Bring the stew to a gentle boil over medium heat. 
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.  
     Gently simmer the stew, till the goat meat is tender.  (This takes a while!  Add water if necessary.)
     Step 10:  After the goat meat becomes tender, raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced cilantro.
     Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary. 
     Step 11:  Rapidly simmer and reduce the stewing sauce, till it becomes rich and there is slightly more meat than sauce.  (The sauce should be reduced to a medium thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.)
     Step 12:  Remove the laurel leaf.
     Keep the stew warm over very low heat.
  
     Presentation:
     Use a cup as a rice mold.  Place 1 portion of plain cooked white rice in a wide shallow stew bowl.
     Ladle the Dominican Stewed Goat around the rice in the bowl.
     Garnish the rice with a cilantro sprig or curly leaf parsley sprig.  
     Garnish the rice with a couple of pickled green tabasco peppers.  
     Serve with bread, lime wedges and a bottle of Scotch Bonnet Pepper sauce on the side!

     There are a few traditional Dominican names for this stew, but those names can easily be confused with a similar goat stew that is made in Central America.  I figured that writing the name of this traditional Dominican stew in plain English would avoid confusion.  
     Dominican Stewed Goat is awesome tasting and it is pleasantly spicy hot!  This stew has a unique flavor that is quite appealing. 

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