I have to admit that goat meat is not popular — or even well-known — in the Western World*. I am not sure what the cause might be, perhaps goat meat does not lend itself to the type of economy of scale that is possible with beef.
In the Caribbean, however, this is not the case: goat meat is a popular choice, a special treat even. In the Dominican Republic, the Northwestern region is well-known for its famous dish: Chivo Liniero Guisado Picante (Spicy Goat Meat Stew), a spicy stew of tender and flavorful goat meat.
The secret to this regional delicacy is fresh, wild oregano and flavorful and fierce Scotch bonnet peppers. Local lore tells us that the goats feed from the wild oregano, seasoning themselves while they still breathe and walk. How convenient.
I may be biased, but I have the nagging suspicion that the goat meat one finds outside this region is sub-par. At least in my experience. While my local supermarket is pretty good when it comes to their butcher section, in the end I vastly prefer it back in my hometown.
So, if you want to try the original, the best stewed goat in the world (I may be exaggerating, but only a bit), travel to Montecristi, home of the free-range, wild-grown ingredients that make this dish famous throughout our country.
And before I hear it from some of you, yes, goat is also a traditional dish in the south too. And to honor that other tradition, you can see it served (photo right above this) with the delicious Chenchén (Cracked Corn Pilaf) which originated in that region of the country.
- 2 limes or 1 bitter orange cut into halves
- 4 lb [1.8 kg] of goat meat cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoons of powdered oregano
- 1 red onion cut into quarters
- 2 teaspoons of mashed garlic
- 2 cubanela peppers
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 tablespoons of sugar
- 3 cups of water (may need more)
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 plum tomatoes cut into quarters
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup of rum (optional, see notes)
- 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (or 2 jalapeños) finely chopped
Squeeze the juice of the limes (or bitter oranges on the meat). Scrub the meat and rinse with running water.
Mix the meat, oregano, onion, garlic, cubanela peppers and a teaspoon of salt. Marinate covered in the fridge for an hour, overnight is better.
Heat the oil in a deep-bottomed pot. Add the sugar.
Separate the meat from the onions and peppers. Reserve the onions and peppers.
When the sugar turns brown add the meat. Stir (being careful with splatters) until all the meat has a light brown color.
Add 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer over medium heat. Add water in small quantity as it becomes necessary until the meat is very tender (about 35 mins), turning every few minutes to cook uniformly.
Once the meat is tender add the onions, cilantro, tomato, cubanela and Scotch bonnet peppers.
Cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Add tablespoons of water if it looks like it might burn. Add the tomato sauce and rum. Mix well. Add 2 cups of water and simmer until liquid is reduced to a thin sauce. Season with salt to taste.
With this dish you can go as spicy (or not) as you wish. Bear in mind that Scotch bonnets are insanely spicy. If you are not into spicy food I suggest that you start with a quarter of it (no seeds) and go from there.
Some people find goat meat a bit too "gamey" for their taste, especially if it came from an old animal. One common solution is to add dry red wine or rum to the sauce. Please keep in mind that if you add rum it is best not to serve it to children.