Goat, Sheep, and Pig

A couple weeks ago, we purchased some goat meat at the Ballard Farmer’s Market and turned it into an improvised goat meat stew roughly adapting a lamb and lentil soup recipe.  According to Alice Waters quince also pairs nicely with lamb meat, so I threw it in.  The meat was good, a little tough and surprisingly mild – next time I will be sure to select a recipe which adds a richer flavor to the meat.  That may prove to be a while though!  I’ve recently placed an order for half a pig (coming in December) raised by Rolling Bay Farm (can’t get much more local than around the block).  Additionally a co-worker is having a lamb butchered and I will be lucky enough to get quarter!  (All this meat means I’ll finally try my hand at making sausages…)

Goat Stew

2 tbls. olive oil
1 lb goat
1 onion
4 carrots (in large pieces)
1 quince (quartered and cored, peel on)
4 cloves garlic, thick slices
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
mint (lots – to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups lentils
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup yogurt strained (5-8 hours in refrigerator through cheese cloth)

Start the carrots and quince in a small pan of water mixed with honey.  Simmer until needed.

Heat the oil over high in a deep pan and cook the goat until browned.  Remove the meat and set aside.  Add the garlic, onion, half the mint and the other seasonings to the pot.  Cook until onion softens and then add brandy.  Cook for a couple minutes then add lentils and stock.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the lentils are soft (about 20 minutes).  Partially blend the soup, return the meat and add the strained vegetables.  Heat for 5 minutes.  Serve with yogurt and remaining mint.

(Sadly the lentils were not local.)

Given how strong (and delicious) the odors were during cooking I expected a rich, deeply flavored dish.  However, the reality was a mild but addictive flavor which fell a little flat against the goat meat.  The quince was good, but I  overcooked it so it largely fell apart.  Individual hunks were reminiscent of pear, but more astringent.  The winner from this experiment was actually the strained yogurt!  I can’t wait to find other dishes to serve it with.

Here’s a view of the inside of the quince if anyone is curious (sorry for the quality of image).

Making Homemade Yogurt

When school is in session, I eat a lot of yogurt. It’s a quick and easy breakfast food and something I can throw in my bag in the morning when I haven’t thought ahead and packed a grand lunch. I made the plunge last year and began making my own. It’s very simple to do, but I have to admit that I miss the variety of packaged yogurts. Of course you can stir in delicious jams, honeys, and more, but it’s just not the same as a smooth, happy yogurt.

So, in trying to create this ultimate fast food, I’ve been doing a lot of research. Google searches seem to only lead to shady or impractical websites. ( “Of course, nothing equals a yogurt from Crete, made with goats’ milk…”) Library books have let me down. And no one on the baking circle even responded to my plea for help. So, I took to experimenting!

Here I find myself, a whole lot of jiggly yogurts later, in the position to give some advice. I’ll save you the experimentation.

How to enjoy homemade yogurt, a condensed version of my journey…

1. First, get yourself a yogurt maker. Yes, you could be tough and make it without a gadget, but really, make it easy on yourself. I like this type of maker, because it has individual glass jars which make packing lunch and making different flavors easier. I use this starter, which is stocked in the cold section of my grocery store. To save on buying starter, you can make a chain, reserving one jar of plain yogurt to be the starter for the next time. You can also freeze this, if you’re not going to do it right away. The more you extend a chain, however, the more tart it will get.

2. Decide if you like plain yogurt. If you do, you’re in luck. Here’s a great recipe:

Plain Yogurt
Follow the directions on your starter or-
Heat about 42oz of milk in a saucepan until it boils. Stir and watch. (If you burn it it on the bottom, the yogurt will taste BAD. Trust me.) Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Put a little of this milk in one of your jars, add starter (or 5 tbls. live active plain yogurt), shake all around, and then add back to the batch. Whisk in 1/3 cup of dry milk powder (optional, but makes for firmer yogurt). Pour into your jars and incubate for about 6 hours. Don’t be tempted to jiggle it while you wait. It should remain still or it may have trouble setting.

3. Try stirring in different combinations. I like:

  • jam
  • local honey
  • homemade fruit sauces (like blackberry or strawberry)
4. Make smooth, pre-flavored yogurts.
Vanilla yogurt
Follow the directions for plain yogurt. After you stir in the starter, add 1tbls. sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla.* (Be sure to use the milk powder option.)
Coffee yogurt
Follow directions for plain yogurt, adding 1 tsp. espresso powder and 1 tbls. sugar.*
Fruit ‘on the bottom’
Cook 1/2 c. chopped fresh fruit, 3 tbls. sugar, and enough water to cover the fruit, over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Cool. Mix in after starter.
*These are the measurements for a half batch. I usually pour one jar of plain, then make three jars of each flavor. To make an entire batch of one flavor, just double the measurements.
Do you have a tried and true recipe? Please share!