Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Goat Mince Ragu

All through October chefs and restaurants all over the country were taking part in something called 'Goatober'. I've got to say, it's not the catchiest of titles, but you get the jist, goats and October being the important bits.

Goatober is the brainchild of Heritage Radio Network Executive Director, Erin Fairbanks, and renowned New York cheesemonger, Anne Saxelby. An annual campaign every year in October in the US. In 2010, Heritage Foods USA partnered with a dozen goat dairies around upstate New York and Vermont to purchase their unwanted males, who, as unable to produce milk for dairy products, are killed at birth. Over 50 New York City chefs agreed to feature goat on their menu for the full month of October including Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, Spotted Pig and Bar Boulud and the campaign’s success has continued to grow to year on year.

This year James Whetlor of Cabrito, a relatively new company bringing British goat into the mainstream food market, has been championing the event over here in the UK. I decided to get involved as I really do like goat and was keen to support James, and also my local goat suppliers The Goat Company based up in Morpeth.

This Goat Mince Ragu recipe has been on the menu at Cook House all month, I'm serving in on toast smothered in delicious Doddington cheese. It is also great served with pasta, in a lasagne or with some buttery polenta.

To start finely dice 1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 stick of celery, then add to a big pan with a pinch of salt, a bay leaf, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 15g butter and cook slowly until soft and turning golden, for about 15 minutes. 

While this is going on add 4 large tomatoes cut into quarters, or the equivalent amount of cherry tomatoes to a small baking tray with a couple of cloves of garlic, add a splash of olive oil, and a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar. Then roast at 200˚C for about 20 minutes, until soft and starting to brown. Then remove from the oven.

Grate into the onion mix, one clove of garlic and a few sprigs of finely chopped thyme and stir through. Add 1kg of goat mince, this will serve 4 generously. Gently stir the goat mince on the heat until it is browned and breaks up evenly. Then add 2 heaped desert spoons of plain flour and stir through, allow this to cook for 5 minutes. Then add 2 heaped desert spoons of tomato puree and stir through and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the roast tomatoes to a blender and blitz until totally smooth and then stir this into the goat mince, post flour and tomato puree. Add a big pinch of salt, lots of ground black pepper and a teaspoon of sugar and stir to combine. It will begin to smell and taste delicious at this stage. You're looking to layer as much flavour into the pan as possible, the golden veg at the beginning and then these delicious roast tomatoes all help that along.

Then add about 600ml of beef stock and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce; preferably homemade stock made with roast beef bones simmered for a few hours with stock veg, which will yield the most delicious results. Then let the mince simmer for an hour, covered, very gently, so it's just moving. If it seems too thick add a little more stock. After an hour remove the lid and if it seems like there is a bit too much liquid, take the lid of and turn the heat up and let it reduce for about 15 minutes, stirring now and again so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Turn it off when it is the desired consistency, check the seasoning and let it sit for 15 minutes, just to let let it settle and for all the flavour to come out. It is even better the next day, so if you can make it ahead that is ideal...

To serve, pop it on toast with lots of grated cheese, or stir through some pasta, again top with cheese, or layer it up into a homemade lasagne, making sure to top with cheese!