Latin-Caribbean Rangeland Goat inspiration for Australia Day
Inspired by friends, music, fresh produce and a respect for slow cooking techniques, this is the Crackling Australia day dish for 2018. We live in a culturally diverse community where we are free to explore everything on offer so despite living in the most remote capital city on earth we can still feel like global citizens.
My good friend and consulting client Chris Higham was down in town from her sheep and goat station nine hours drive to the north. Summer weekends mean farmers markets in Perth and Chris is generously sharing her goat with the city slickers.
Chris sells Rangeland Goat under the Mundillya Meats brand and home made pies, sausages, patties and pates through her Homestead Hampers market stalls in Carnarvon and Perth.
Here is a picture of a dog to make sure you look at the Homestead Hampers logo (I know how social media really works)
The Stirling Farmers Market showcases plenty of fresh produce. Trays of ripe mangoes oozing perfume from the Top End sit next to imported American Blood oranges and multi coloured capsicums from the Gascoyne. I buy goat curry pies and goat shanks from Chris and head home before the sun hits the top of the sky and the temperature tops 37 degrees.
My shopping haul included blood oranges, a whole tray of Carnarvon Mangoes and Rangeland Goat. My in-car music always includes David Bowie and the summer sun suggests Station to Station and Young Americans – two records steered masterfully by NYC via Peurto Rico rhythm guitarist and musical director Carlos Alomar. Carlos is a professor of music and has worked with dozens of top-shelf artists since the late 60s. Up Town Funk, anyone?
Hey presto, a plastic soul, thin white version of Carne Guisada is on the cards.
The Australian Rangelands are the semi-arid and incredibly arid zones across the middle of the continent that have remained relatively untouched for millions of years. The natural environment is dominant and Rangeland goat is the ultimate free-range beast. The goats from Meedo Station in the Gascoyne region of central Western Australia probably haven’t even seen a human until they are mustered by Chris and Tim Higham.
Kept in their natural family groups so they don’t get spooked and tense up, the goats are fed and watered in the yards for a few days before …. you, know. The low stress handling and diet full of salt bush, waynu bean and ancient bush foods means the meat is tender, tasty and extremely good for you.
Rangeland Goat Guisada with Blood Orange and Mango
Guisada refers to braised meat marinated with a mixture of garlic, citrus, oregano and chilli – very broadly speaking. It is a popular way all across the Spanish speaking Caribbean and Central American Creole world to compliment the robust flavours and tenderise the robust textures of older beasts. Although the Rangeland goat is …. you know, before it hits 30 kgs in weight and therefore never gamey or tough, this method works well.
Begin with the marinade
Mix garlic, small hot chillies, salt and dried oregano in to the the juice of two blood or bitter oranges.
Cover the bone-in goat, I used shanks, and marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours. During that time I made mango chutney and added some fresh mango to the marinade just for fun.
As a cook who has studied food science I am a natural a devotee of the soffritto – the chopped, sauteed mixture of aromatics and vegetables that act as a flavour and vitamin precursors to stews and braises and sauces across Latin cooking.
It takes time to break down the cell walls of the vegetables and allow the chemicals and enzymes to react with the oil and form the magical, flavoursome, healthy basis of so many wonderful dishes. Short cut your soffritto and no Instagram filter can rescue your lack-lustre dish.
Peurto Rican soffritto should include capsicum, or bell pepper. I used green, orange and red varieties, celery, onion and garlic. Sauteed in lard and olive oil and seasoned with all spice, salt and ground coriander.
It took 25 minutes.
When you think it is done, give it another five minutes and then layer the bottom of a slow cooker on high setting with half the mix.
Caramelising the meat
Although searing meat does begin the Maillard reaction which contributes to browning and flavour, this dish calls for some actual burnt sugar to get the process underway. Melt a tablespoon in the pan, remove the meat from the marinade – save that – and without crowding the pan sear the meat. Place on the soffritto bed in the slow cooker and layer meat and soffritto till full. Put on the lid.
Add the marinade to the pan and turn up the heat. Stir vigorously and throw in a splash of dark rum to de-glaze the pan and scrape all the meat and fat from the searing process. Add some tomato paste and dark soy sauce and allow to bubble fiercely for a minute. Add half a cup of water and remove from the heat. Pour in to the slow cooker, put the lid on tightly and allow to cook – undisturbed for at least four hours.
Fifteen hours later
My Carne or (Chiva for goat) Guisada spent seven hours in the slow cooker a further 8 in a very low oven. The radiant heat of the oven really amplifies that rich, earthy patina. Which is why you want to reach in the screen and eat it right now. Vegans would not have read this far so I’m not expecting a backlash.
Of course, the bones just slide out of the shanks and it takes hardly anything to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. The omega 3 rich fat, what little there is, of the Rangeland goat makes the sauce gleam and the vegetables retain their colour and their shape. A mellow spice melody and a piquant citrus high-tone perfectly compliment the rich, subtly flavoured meat.
Rice and peas – brown rice and quinoa with pinto and cannelini beans.
Salsa of red onions, roma tomatoes and capsicum
Wedge of blood orange.
Yes, I made this three days before Australia Day, January 26, because it keeps so well in the fridge under a layer of unsaturated fat while the flavours deepen.
This Chiva Guisada is certainly not authentic, more a homage to the Peurto Rican cook’s ingenuity and alchemy inspired by Australian produce and slow cooking techniques.
Although I no longer cater for musicians back stage and in the studio, I do run a fantasy green room for my own amusement. This would certainly be on the rider for Carlos Alomar and his wife, the very wonderful vocal artiste Robin Clark. I’d put some aside for the rest of the DAM trio, George Murray and Dennis Davis – top tip ALWAYS take very special care of the rhythm section, they work so hard and keep the rest of the band together on tour. It would be a drop in the ocean to repay them for all the years of joy their music has brought me.
The wonderful Robin Clark
Blogger integrity disclaimer: I bought the goat for this recipe as an ordinary customer and wrote this piece as a friend, not a consultant.