Roast Goat Quarter
Easter dinner at Fourmilab is usually the traditional Swiss repast of roast leg of goat, served over rice with vegetables. This is an easy-to-prepare, can’t fail meal which is suitable for any occasion. Goat is considered a “red meat”, but I find it most comparable to turkey dark meat in flavour and texture. The taste is unique and not at all gamey. (Of course, this depends upon what the goat was fed. Swiss goats are usually fed on grass and forage; if your goat was fed on garbage and fish heads, all bets are off.)
Start with a leg of goat (it’s called «cabri quartier arrière» in the shops here—I don’t want to get into disputes between anatomists and butchers [is there a difference?]—I’m just reporting) between 600 and 1000 g including bones; this will serve two adults. The cut pictured above weighed 716 g, which is about average. Rub the meat with an ample amount of garlic purée (which I buy ready to use in a tube; if you can’t find this or insist on fresh, crush several cloves of garlic) and then sprinkle all over with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Place in a glass casserole dish large enough to hold the entire leg (you may have to use some force to bend the joint in order to fit; in case it won’t go in, dislocate the joint and cut into two pieces). Peel a medium-sized onion, cut in half, and place the two halves on the top of the meat. A sprig of rosemary (supplied with the goat meat here) placed between the onions will add flavour as you roast the meat. Cover the casserole and place in the refrigerator for several hours (overnight is fine) to allow the garlic, salt, and pepper to season the meat.
Half an hour before you’re ready to start cooking, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220° C in circulating air mode if available. When the oven is at temperature, place the covered casserole in the middle of the oven. Make sure the lid fits well—otherwise the roast will dry out. (This is about the only thing that can go wrong with the recipe.)
Leave in the oven for 75 minutes. As you approach the end of the cooking time, make white rice the Fourmilab can’t fail way: take the desired quantity of just about any kind of rice (but not “wild rice”, which is actually grass seed), around ⅓ to ½ cup per person (I use “cup” to mean 250 ml), and place in a saucepan. (I prefer sticky short-grained risotto rice like Arborio or Carnaroli, as it readily soaks up the flavour of the juice from cooking.) Add twice the volume of cold water as rice and, if you like, a little salt. Stir the rice and water to sink any “floaters” then turn on the highest heat setting and wait until the water is boiling vigorously. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting (“simmer”) and cover the pan. Then do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes, at the end of which all of the water will have been absorbed and the rice will be perfect.
When everything is done, remove the casserole from the oven, place servings of rice into bowls, top with slices of goat meat and season with the liquid you’ll find at the bottom of the casserole, which will be a blend of the juice from the roast and onions. (Use a baster to transfer it from the casserole to bowls.)
When it’s time to clean up the casserole dish, soak it in warm water and dish detergent for a while, then use a stainless steel scrubber to remove any baked-on cruft, after which the dish grinder will finish the job.
Save the bones and any leftovers, place in a small sauce pan, cover with water, add a squirt of garlic purée and a tablespoon of vinegar, bring to a boil, and then turn down and simmer for around an hour. Remove the bones, place the stock in a container and refrigerate. The next day you can reheat the stock and serve as soup, as pure broth or after cooking cut-up vegetables in the stock. I usually add some starch-based sauce thickener to give the soup a little more body.