The next time you peruse a restaurant menu, you might find a previously uncommon listing: goat. Even though it is the most widely eaten meat in the world, goat was not until very recently a popular dish in American restaurants. Increasingly, chefs who want to work with local producers are turning to goat as a flavorful alternative.
Texas raises 80 percent of the meat goats in the United States, but most are shipped out of the state or country for consumption. Cabrito pops up on menus in Mexican restaurants (a classic example being the ever-popular cabrito al horno at El Azteca) or in a curry at an Indian restaurant such Clay Pit, but until recently, it was rarely a mainstay at trendier places.
It wasn’t a fast sell, but Windy Hill Farm manager Ty Wolosin persistently sought out some of Austin’s top chefs to convince them that goat had a place on their tables.
In part that changed because of Windy Hill Farm. This goat farm in Comanche, Texas, was the first to provide a stable, sustainably raised, high-quality product to the restaurants. It wasn’t a fast sell, but manager Ty Wolosin persistently sought out some of Austin’s top chefs to convince them that goat had a place on their table.
“Initially, some chefs were very skeptical, but I got lucky that at the time I was reaching out there was this new group of chefs coming up who wanted to work with local ingredients,” says Wolosin. “Todd Duplechan of Lenoir is a great example. He’d worked with goat on the East Coast, but no one had ever approached him with it here.”
Slowly but surely, he built up a strong client base that ranges from Indian pub grub at the Whip In to fine dining at Congress Restaurant. Swift’s Attic has featured a goat dish on the menu in one form or another since opening. “We’ve featured several different dishes, but the braised goat shoulder with the ricotta gnocchi is a keeper,” says Executive Chef Mat Clouser. “We sell a ton of it, and if we tried to take it off the menu, people would revolt.”
Chef Andrew Wiseheart of Contigo likes to create goat dishes that will help people move past their preconceived notions about the meat. “One of my favorite things to do is to take something people think they don’t like to eat and make it tasty,” says Wiseheart. “I do my best to make dishes that are as approachable as possible, like we do with the beef tongue or the pig liver. We did a braised goat dish with tomato and cinnamon that was really great.”
For the home cook, Wolosin helps people make the leap by comparing it to something they already know and love. “I talk to people when I’m working the Hope Farmers Market and often suggest cooking techniques,” he says. “If they like lamb, then goat is the same thing, just leaner, and you can cook it the same way.”
Between Wolosin’s enthusiasm and a growing cadre of creative chefs, you can expect to find more flavorful goat dishes making their way to your table.
Restaurants regularly featuring goat on the menu:
East Side Showroom
Foreign & Domestic
Noble Sandwich Co.
TRACE at the W