Friday, January 27, 2012

Midnight Goat

A mix of goat leg & shoulder braised in:
Guinness Draught
beef stock
brown sugar
Vietnamese cinnamon
star anise
Angostura bitters
homemade garam masala

I decided to split up the goat into two vessels for comparative braising.
One half in a traditional stovetop braise, no lid on lowest heat possible.
The other half in a Crock-Pot, with lid.
Yes, a Crock-Pot.
A friend of mine, Joanna, gave me one that she wasn't using recently and though they have always reminded me of the clich├ęd housewife with a deranged Stepford smile simmering beef and starches for her chauvinistic and complacent husband, I've realized that I too was fooled by an initial demographic.

In the end, a Crock-Pot is a stoneware pot in a controlled temperature environment. Not quite sous-vide, but if you apply similar practices why wouldn't the result be close? The key here is to not simply throw all your ingredients together and plug it in. There's some important prep work involved (browning of meat, caramelization of onions + sugar and deglazing). After these steps, you combine everything else. I started prepping around midnight, had everything simmering by 12:30am, leaving me to go to bed and wake up at 8am to some successful goat.

The stovetop braise ended up losing all of it's liquid and a drier result of meat, thought It had more intense flavor.
The Crock-Pot braise yielded a much more tender cut still swimming in delicious goat broth, though the flavor was not as pronounced as the stovetop braise.

What's more important? Texture or flavor? In this scenario I favor texture. Flavor can always be added and improved upon (i'll probably reduce remaining liquid and adjust seasonings from there), but once meat has dried out, it's a lot harder to come back from that.

Though there are many kitchen gadgets that are cringeworthy and seemingly useless, we should also be as open minded as possible to try everything and see if it can actually be useful for you, whether or not it was advertised or intended that way. Rice cookers, egg separators, microwaves; these all have their place in a home or a fine dining kitchen. Certain methods by hand and labor are linked to tradition and stubbornness, set your machismo aside and make it easy on yourself.

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