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Wild Goat and Mint Casserole

October 8, 2002

There was a time when downtown Wellington, my home city, was empty at the weekend. There was no weekend trading, little in the way of eating houses that were open during the day, apart from fish and chip shops, milk bars or coffee bars. On Friday night everyone headed home for the suburbs and stayed there. If you hadn't visited the bank by closing time of 3pm on a Friday, you ran a severe risk of being penniless for the weekend. No EFTPOS or money machines in those days.

Over the years, weekend shopping has been introduced. A change in licensing laws has seen a proliferation of wine bars, cafes and restaurants. Containerised shipping has seen many warehouses become redundant. The space has been used for offices and downtown apartments.

With an increasing number of people choosing to live close to their place of work, the demand has grown for mid-city supermarkets and markets.

There is one midtown market that I love to visit. It's an inspirational place from a cook's point of view. If you're open-minded and prepared to try anything once, there's usually something to catch the eye.

This week I found several items that fitted the bill. The meat cabinet contained a great choice of cuts not usually found in suburban supermarkets. Among the ostrich, venison and wild pork, I found some packets of diced wild goat.

This is supplied by Premium Game, a South Island business established in 1996 by a partnership of four hunters. It has found a niche as New Zealand's only supplier of processed wild game including venison, goat, pork, rabbit, hare and wallaby.

Game is processed at their factory under strict MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) control. Killed game is brought to the plant where it is chilled and hung till processed.

While we don't eat a lot of goat's meat in New Zealand, it's widely eaten in other countries - the Caribbean, Jamaica, Greece, the Philippines, the Middle East, for instance. Fortunately there was a recipe leaflet in the meat cabinet and so I followed Premium Game's suggestion and we had a wild goat and mint casserole.

This was a tasty dish with a Greek flavour. In fact I bought a pot of traditional strained Greek yoghurt to finish the recipe. This yoghurt is nice and thick and creamy and ideal for a dish such as this.

I changed the original recipe a little - after adding the water, I tipped the ingredients into a casserole and baked it in the oven until tender. I mixed the mint and yoghurt together and spooned it on the meat after serving, rather than incorporate it in the sauce.

Incidentally, in some places goat meat is called "mutton" - not to be confused with sheepmeat - while in others it's known as chevon.

Wild Goat and Mint Casserole

500g goat meat, cubed
oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large green pepper, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
water and stock
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
150g natural yoghurt
2 dessertspoons chopped fresh mint

Brown the meat in oil then add the onion and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the other vegetables, seasoning and water or stock to just cover (top picture). Simmer gently in a covered pan for about two hours until tender (lower picture).

Remove the meat, reduce the sauce if necessary and add the yoghurt and mint. Pour this over the meat and serve with tabbouli or vegetables. We had celeriac mash and some cavolo nero - more about them next week.

 

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