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Goat Cooking Tips

        Cabrito is  meat from very young, milk fed goats between 4 and 8 weeks of age. The meat is tender, juicy, and very lean and tasty at this age. All parts of a cabrito are utilized, including the innards or organ meats. Today's cabrito is prepared in many ways following diverse recipes with many different added ingredients.

        However, the authentic cooking practices are baked or barbecued (asado) or stewed (guisado) with traditional cumin (comino), garlic (ajo), and chile pepper spices.

        Traditional Mexican methods of cooking meat are often designed for a cut of meat from an animal that has matured or has done a bit of walking around. In many cases, market goats today are older and larger than true cabritos. Chevon may be a goat from 48 to 60 pounds and 6 to 9 months of age with almost the entire animal being expected to serve the table.

        Traditionally, on the day of the pachanga, several cabritos are slaughtered in the very early morning hours. All parts are saved and meat is cut up according to method of preparation - large pieces for asado, small bite-size pieces for guisado. Of course, there are many other dishes, and goat meat is prepared in many different ways with eaach family adding its own ingredients to a recipe. Women are often the cooks, but men also have their own style and prepare some delicious dishes.

        Goat meat is 50%-65% lower in fat than similarly prepared beef, but has a similar protein content. The US department of Agriculture also has reported that saturated fat in cooked goat meat is 40% less than that of chicken, even with the skin removed.


Palatability and Calories

       Panel taste tests rate cabrito and young chevon Spanish goats as being much more acceptable in overall satisfaction than slightly more mature prok, lamb and beef carcasses. "Satisfaction" is a combined impression of flavor, juiciness and tenderness. Older goats are generally tougher and less palatable.            Taste tests also indicate that goat meat is unique and in not interchangeable with meat from other species.

         A goat carcass contains bone, muscle and fat. Goat muscle meat is the equivalent in caloric value to chicken and has 94 fewer calories than beef per serving.  This is desirable for persons with a need to reduce their caloric intake. Overall, goat meat is similar in most nutrients to other species, but the cholesterol content of goat meat is slightly lower than beef or chicken.


Meat Care and Preparation

           A cabrito is usually selected, slaughtered and prepared the same day. Retail markets usually sell chevon (older goats). These are sold as entire carcasses, quarters or smaller cuts as customers specify. Since there is no standardized procedure for cutting a goat carcass, many butchers follow the traditional procedure for cutting up lamb carcasses.

            Fresh meat should be removed from the market wrapping paper and re-wrapped, unless the meat is to be used the  same day it is purchased. Fresh meat should be frozen if it is to be kept for three days or more. Wrap in freezer paper, freeze and store at 0 degrees or lower.

            Fresh goat meat should be placed in the coldest part of a refrigerator or in the meat compartment. the frozen food storage of ice cube section of most household refrigerators is not designed for rapid freezing and will not substitute for a home freezer when the meat is to be frozen and stored for longer than one week. Goat meat that has been properly wrapped and promptly frozen at  0 degrees or lower can be kept for 6 to 9 months. cooked goat meat should also be chilled rapidly, covered and stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator.


Goat Meat Cookery

            Cabrito will lose moisture and can toughen quickly due to low fat content if it is exposed to high, dry cooking temperatures. Therefore  two basic rules are:

  • cook it slowly (low temperature)

  • cook it with moisture

            Tenderness of a meat cut determines the method or methods of cooking. Tender cuts of meat are usually best when cooked by a dry heat method such as roasting, broiling or frying. Less tender cuts are tenderized by cooking with moist heat such as braising and stewing

            Tender cuts of goat meat are the legs, ribs, portions of the shoulder cut, the loin roast and the breast. Less tender cuts of goat are stew meat, riblets and shanks. In general, it is advisable to cook the meat slowly. Cooking any meat at low temperatures results in more tender and flavorful product with more juice.

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