I am fully aware that I’m not going to hit it out of the park every single time I get in the kitchen. Ok, my ego says not really, but my reason tells me that for as much as I cook, and as many new things as I try this is going to happen. I have made things where I thought: “Don’t love it won’t make it again, but it’s ok.”
I’ve had the: “ This doesn’t work for my palate but I can see why someone else would love it.”
I’ve had the: “Why do I bother to try and bake?” a lot.
But I cannot remember the last time that I had to throw food away that I made. This week it happened not once but twice, and I’m getting a little nervous having this kind of disaster run so close to Thanksgiving. I’m nervous now to brine my turkey, worrying that I’m just going to create a salty mess, worrying that somehow the years of all of my skills have been erased from my memory.
Let’s start with the Aztec Chocolate Rice Pudding. I don’t know if I had a mini stroke when I was putting the cayenne into the chocolate rice pudding or if the cayenne fairy descended on my kitchen playing a mean practical joke but even though the rice pudding smelled delicious it was too spicy to eat and had to go in the trash. Bad fairy! I made it again the next day without cayenne and used 1/2 Ronnybrook eggnog and ½ milk and the rice pudding was delicious. Next time I will choose either chocolate or eggnog, I think that I was just desperate to create something rich and wonderful and at least out of the initial nose hair singeing misadventure something delicious eventually emerged from cayenne fairies visit.
The second misadventure was far worse and much more heart breaking. A few months ago I was at the Essex Street Market and I saw at one of the butchers there an entire leg of goat. I stood there chewing my lip and resisting the urge to impulse purchase a leg of an animal that I had never eaten, never cooked, or even read a recipe for. I talked myself out of buying it right there and then by promising myself that once the proper amount of reading was done I would indulge and buy, cook and eat the goat. As a lover of venison, duck, elk, lamb, buffalo and nearly everything else in between, not to mention my love of goat cheese and goat yogurt it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t like the taste of goat meat. Retrospectively, I should have gone to a restaurant and tried a goat dish before I embarked on this project, but self admittedly I can be unbelievably bull-headed stubborn.
Them Apples had a recipe for goat curry and not only was his picture beautiful, the recipe was accessible to me since I have been cooking a lot of curry recently. Reading the post and compiling the recipe from his narrative, other than the long marinating time and the long cooking time, the recipe was really quite simple. To begin my adventure I went off to my goat cheese vendor at the farmers market whom I noticed was also selling goat meat and I bought 2 pounds off of her. While the goat meat was thawing, I toasted the spices and ground them in my freshly cleaned grinder. I chopped up the onions, garlic, 3 large tomatoes that I had blanched to get the skins off, and the stems from a bunch of cilantro. I then minced my one scotch bonnet and added it to the whole shebang. The crisp clean cilantro smell wafted up from the bowl tinged with sharp twang of pepper and I thought; “This is going to be awesome!” Once the goat meat thawed I took 3-4 tablespoons of the spice mixture and coated the goat meat with it. I put the spiced goat meat and vegetables in a bag to marinate for 24 hours per instructions.
One day passes.
The next evening I open the bag and separate the meat from the marinade, heat safflower oil in a pan and brown the goat meat in batches. The smells coming up from the pan were delicious, what’s not to love about the smell of cooking meat? Once all the meat was browned I dumped the marinade into the pan and cooked it until the onions were soft. About 10 minutes. I deglazed the pan with a little water and poured all of that over the browned goat meat. I added one teaspoon salt and water just to cover the meat and put it into the oven at 120 C, which is 250 F for 3 hours. This is where things went badly. Three hours later the goat meat was fork shreddingly tender but the liquid in the casserole dish hasn’t cooked down at all. I decided to take the curry out of the oven and cook it down in a pan on the stovetop. This seemed to work. The liquid quickly cooked down and the color and smell seemed spot on. I poured a healthy serving over white rice, sprinkled the curry with micro cilantro and happily sat down to eat. I got about 4 bites in before I realized that this was one of the worst things that I had ever eaten and certainly the worst thing I had ever cooked. There was something both plastic and metallic tasting about the meat. The curry though smelling good had a heavy soap quality and was way to liquid. I tried to convince myself that this was something new, and I just wasn’t used to it, and I did finish a serving, but I couldn’t bear to eat it again. Even my boyfriend who has a ridiculous metabolism and will eat anything turned his nose up at the curry. I don’t know where it went wrong exactly, and I’ve been thinking about it for days. Maybe I didn’t put enough love into the dish, maybe I was getting a cold. Maybe the evil cayenne fairy has a sister who came into my kitchen and switched all my spices around.
I’d like to think that I’d try goat again, and I probably would if someone else cooked it. Or maybe I just have to admit to myself that I have finally found a food that I don’t like and would prefer never to have to eat again. For those readers who are goat lovers and know it, here is the recipe, as I understood it from Them Apples posting.
2 lbs cubed goat meat
2 onions finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, stems chopped and set aside
3 cloves of garlic minced
Leaves from a handful of thyme
1 scotch bonnet minced (be careful they are truly hot)
1 tablespoon of each: coriander seeds, black peppercorns, and fenugreek seeds
12 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons safflower oil
Preheat oven to 250 F. Dry toast the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick together. Once cooled, grind. Add to this mixture the ginger and the turmeric. Coat the goat meat with as much of the spice mixture as you need, I needed 4-5 tablespoons. Add to the spiced meat the onions, tomatoes, scotch bonnet, garlic and cilantro stems. Mix together well and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
Heat the oil in a pan. Scraping off as much as the marinade as possible brown the goat meat and put into a casserole dish. Add the marinade and cook it until the onions soften, about 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with water and pour this over the browned meat. Add one teaspoon salt and add just enough water to cover the meat. Cook for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Sever over white rice and with chopped cilantro leaves.