Have I mentioned I love my CSA’s! Community Supported Agriculture for those of you who may not have discovered them are not only important from an economic and sustainability standpoint, the food you get from these producers simply tastes better. I get most of my produce from Great River Organic and meat from a custom CSA from Bluescreek Farms. The celery I got in this weeks bag actually has flavor and the pork from Bluescreek is nothing like “the other white” meat sold in the big chain groceries. The other thing I love about them is that they challenge me as a cook. Each bag or bundle makes me feel a bit like I’m on Chopped. Ok, so, I don’t get challenged by having to combine sea urchin with grape jelly but I do have the opportunity to step a bit outside my comfort zone with things like the star of this weeks post, ground goat. Actually ground goat isn’t very scary at all, it’s just ground meat with a tad more flavor and less fat than ground beef. I could put it in tacos or chili but a quick search online gave me a recipe for Billy Goat Meatballs. The source is a NPR Kitchen Window Post by Bonny Wolf and her recipe was an adaptation of a recipe from The Meatball Shop Cookbook. I’ve had some pretty fine meatballs at The Meatball Shop in Brooklyn, so I decided to put my spin on these for tonight’s dinner. If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to ground goat, I’m thinking that some lean ground lamb or beef would be great as well.
The only special ingredients, meaning that I don’t always have them on hand are the ground goat and the goat cheese. Everything else I expect you may have in your pantry as well. Don’t skip the goat cheese, it gives a great layer of flavor and keeps the kabobs from being dry little pucks.
Start by finely dicing/mincing half of an onion and a clove of garlic and stripping the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme (if you only have dried thyme on hand go for it, just remember to reduce the quantity by approximately 1/3)
Start with the onion, salt,thyme leaves and some freshly ground black pepper in a small skillet with some olive oil.
Saute until the onion is very soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and the pepper flakes. I’m using Aleppo because I like it’s slight tartness and mild bite but you can substitute regular crushed red pepper flakes or simply omit them. In other words don’t run to the grocery or let this be a show stopper.
Almost as quickly as you can stir the garlic and pepper in, remove from heat and put in a small bowl in the refrigerator to cool.
After the onion mixture has cooled, combine it with all of the remaining ingredients-egg, paprikas (I like to use sweet Hungarian for color and Smoked for flavor-), breadcrumbs (I always have Panko on hand, so that’s what I’m using but any type of breadcrumb will be fine).
I didn’t show it here but, it’s a good idea to crumble the goat cheese a bit. It will help you mix it in evenly without overworking the meat mixture.
Divide the mixture into 8 equal size logs. If you’re counting you will see that I failed this bit. In my haste I only made 7! But I didn’t want to overwork my lovely little logs so I went with it.
Wrap the logs in plastic wrap ( plug here for our favorite brand from Costco-every time my husband uses it he raves about it’s superiority). Then chill for a while to firm them up. An hour will do the trick but they can easily chill out for several hours or overnight.
While the kabobs are chillin you have time to make some Tzatziki to go with the kabobs. My “secret” ingredient is a bit of mayonnaise, otherwise it’s a pretty standard Tzatziki. I think the mayo helps bring the flavors together, but if you’re a purist, leave it out and substitute with olive oil.
Many Tzatziki recipes specify grated cucumber, but I prefer a small dice to give a bit more texture to the sauce. Peel, seed and toss it with some salt to get rid of the excess water and season the cucumber. A 10 minute drain will do the job. If you’re using a thin regular yogurt, you may want to drain it for a bit as well. I suppose you could use low-fat yogurt, but the flavor will be a bit thin. I prefer to use full-fat and simply eat a bit less of it.
Mix the drained cucumber with the yogurt, some minced shallot/onion, dill, mint, a clove of garlic mashed to a paste or pressed in a garlic press, a squeeze of lemon juice, a grinding of black pepper and 1 or 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise or olive oil.
Top it with a bit of sweet or smoked paprika to make it pretty and put it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Back to the kabobs. When the logs are well chilled and firm, light the grill and thread them onto metal skewers. If you are an apartment dweller with no access to a grill you can pan fry or bake them at 450° F for 20 to 30 minutes.
In all cases the internal temperature should reach 165° F.
While the kabobs are grilling you have time to sauté a vegetable. I have a bumper crop of yellow crookneck squash and another variety that sprouted up from my compost bin. It’s the color of a patty pan but ball shaped and has lovely blossoms that I’m including in my sauté. I could have done these on the grill alongside my kabobs, but I like being able to keep them warm in the skillet while I get everything else on the table.
A bit of red romaine, a slice of heirloom tomato, a piece of naan bread , the squash from my garden and Goat Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce. I so love summer food!!!
Goat Meatball Kabobs
by: M.B. Einerson
Adapted from Bonny Wolf’s Billy Goat Meatballs who adapted hers from The Meatball Shop Cookbook
Servings: 4 to 6
- 1 to 2 Tbs. Olive oil, divided
- ½ medium Onion, finely diced
- 1 ½ tsp. Fresh Thyme leaves
- 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
- Several grinds of Black Pepper
- 1 clove Garlic, finely minced
- ½ tsp. Sweet Hungarian Paprika
- ½ tsp. Smoked Paprika
- ⅛ tsp. Aleppo or Crushed Red Pepper flakes
- ½ lb. ground goat or lamb
- ¼ cup (2 oz.) Goat Cheese
- ¼ cup Bread crumbs – I use Panko
- 1 large Egg
Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a small skillet. Add the diced onion, salt and thyme leaves and black pepper and sauté until the onions are very soft and lightly browned. Add the minced garlic, paprikas and pepper flakes and sauté for less than a minute. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until completely cool.
Combine the cooled onion mixture with the remaining ingredients. It’s best if you crumble the goat cheese to insure that it gets evenly distributed in the ground meat. Mix thoroughly by hand and then divide into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a kabob approximately 4 inches in length. Place on a plate and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. When the kabobs are well chilled, place onto wooden or metal skewers.
Heat grill to medium to high heat and place kabobs onto hot grates. Grill on all sides until well browned and the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Alternative is to pan fry or roast in a 450° oven to the same end temperature. If roasting, place in a baking dish that has been coated with 1 Tbs. of olive oil.
Tzatziki (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce)
by: M.B. Einerson
Adapted from a March 2014 recipe for Tzatziki in Saveur Magazine
Servings: approximately 1 cup
- ½ cup finely diced Cucumber, peeled and seeded
- ½ Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 cup plain Greek or Regular Yogurt (if the brand of regular yogurt is very thin you may want to strain it in a cheese cloth or coffee filter lined strainer for a hour or two)
- 1 Tbsp. minced fresh Dill or 1 tsp. Dried Dill Weed
- 1 Tbsp. minced fresh Mint
- 1 ½ tsp. fresh Lemon juice
- 1 clove Garlic, mashed to a paste or pushed through a garlic press
- ½ small shallot or onion, finely minced
- Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise or Olive Oil
- Smoked paprika for garnish
Toss the finely diced cucumber with 1 tsp. Kosher salt in a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl and let rest for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the drained cucumber to a small bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.