It is a well-documented fact that the Anderson family loves lamb. More often than not, when we have each other over for dinner and we’re trying to impress, we make lamb—slow-cooked in deep, rich sauces and falling off the bone, or rubbed, grilled and cooked until barely FDA appropriate, or spiced, seared and stuffed into warm pita. We serve it with big red wines, and sumptuous sides, and the whole affair is just downright indecent.
In our family, serving lamb is like putting Babe Ruth up to bat at a little league game. It’s going to be a home run—every time.
This weekend, when Maggy and Andy were visiting me in New Haven, we were at the farmers’ market trying to decide what to cook for dinner. We had the option to buy some wonderful-looking lamb, but there was this package of ground goat meat staring us in the face, saying: “I dare you to cook me!”
You could almost hear the Jeopardy theme taunting us in the background, as we vacillated between the sure thing and the not-so-sure one. We rose to the challenge, bought the goat, and left before we could change our minds. But what to do with goat?
We mused in the car. We’d had goat in spiced Indian dishes, but those used stew meat and we had ground. We could just treat it like ground beef and make fun burgers, but that seemed kind of a cop-out. It was actually Andy—who loves good food, but mostly leaves the (slightly embarrassing) daydreaming about dinner up to us—that piped up with “Oooooooh, what if we made pizza with goat meat and goat cheese!?!”
There was a collective holding of breath in the car as we all envisioned what that would taste like, and a general sigh of relief that (a.) we’d figured out what we were doing with our moderately weird and expensive meat and (b.) we already knew it was going to be sooooo good.
We picked up a goat cheese, and a few other ingredients, and went home to craft our meal. I made a batch of pizza dough, and we ate cheese (not from goats) and drank wine while it rose. We whipped up a quick tomato sauce, pitted and chopped some Kalamatas, picked some basil off the plant in our windowsill, and sautéed our ground goat meat. Our expectations grew higher as we all furtively (or so we thought) grabbed sizzling bits of meat out of the pan.
All assembled and baked on my new terracotta tiles (don’t get me started on the ones I tried on a baking sheet—I might have thrown a temper tantrum in the kitchen), the pizza was incredible. Perhaps better than we’d envisioned a few hours before. The flavor was more complex than beef, but less gamey than lamb, and it paired somewhat predictably well with cheese from the same animal. In short, if you see goat for sale anywhere, buy it—and let the goat turn you into a cooking hero.