Baby goat with peas and eggs (and a cooking renaissance)

Since, by a cruel turn of circumstance, I came to be living alone, I’ve lost much of the pleasure I used to derive from cooking. Food had always meant more to me than just nourishment ever since I witnessed the sheer happiness that my father drew from cooking for me once he had retired. He’d bug me at work, asking what I fancied for dinner. Invariably I couldn’t decide so he’d sometimes make a few things. Yep, I was totally spoilt, but he loved doing it, and slowly it rubbed off on me.

The joy gained from feeding someone you love, and sharing a meal with them, can be truly infectious and lift the spirits. Conversely, cooking for one leaves me feeling thoroughly flat. I’ve also lost an enormous amount of confidence, such that following recipes and inevitably being constrained by the requisite precision that cooking a new dish or unfamiliar cuisine demands can seem too daunting at times. Cookery books languish on my shelves untouched, unloved, and pristine.

I’ve therefore wound up cooking a limited and repetitive, yet comfortingly familiar, diet of pasta and other simple meals. And indeed, whilst the possibilities for variety with pasta are endless, I invariably make the same two or three sauces that habit, and lack of forethought, dictates.

I originally started the blog with the intention of compelling myself to broaden my knowledge and repertoire of Italian food: in particular, that of Campania, and its principal city Naples, where my father was from. However, since my inaugural post about pizza, I’ve struggled to find the inspiration to continue. Nevertheless, following some rather delightful feedback via Twitter from a couple of well-regarded food folk concerning that post, I feel newly encouraged to put pen to paper.

It seems pertinent, then, given my current torpor, to also use the blog as a means to drag myself out of this food rut that I’ve sunk into, and try some new, Neapolitan dishes at home.

With an impending trip back to the Fatherland, it seemed fitting to test out a dish that I ate on my first ever visit there, aged seven: ‘Capretto con piselli e uova’. That’s kid goat* with peas and egg. Neapolitans typically eat this on Easter Sunday.  I hope you like it.

 Capretto con piselli e uova

Serves 2

250-300g diced kid goat, trimmed of fat  (I used leg although best end may be better for tenderness)
Olive oil
½ an onion – sliced in half-moon slices (my preference, you can chop if preferred)
A handful or two of frozen peas (in Naples they use jarred peas, however, I find these can look a bit sludgy)
1 egg
1 glass of white wine
A generous grating of pecorino or parmesan
A squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper

Liberally cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and gently fry the onion until soft, but not coloured. Next, add the goat to the pan, and cook over a medium heat until browned, turning frequently.

Image

Season with salt and pour in the wine. Lower the flame and let the meat cook gently, uncovered, until the wine has bubbled away and reduced to a lightly syrupy consistency. You may need to add a little water from time to time to ensure that there is always some liquid to the dish. This process should take around 30 minutes, but use your judgement.

Stir in the peas, still frozen, and cook for a further five to ten minutes, until they are cooked through but still bright green. Try not to crush them.

In the meantime, beat the egg and combine with the grated cheese. Once the goat and peas are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the eggy-cheese mixture. The eggs should cook into a creamy emulsion using the residual heat from the meat.

Season with a healthy squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper to taste, and if you like, a sprinkling of chopped parsley for added colour. I realise the photo below is rubbish, but I’ve got to start somewhere…

photo

This would also be wonderful with some beautiful baby artichokes or freshly podded broad beans; especially now that Spring will soon be here. And of course, you can substitute the kid goat for lamb should you wish.

*A footnote about kid goat

Kid goat is eaten widely in Italy, though not so much over here and it’s a great shame for both ethical and nutritional reasons. Baby goats tend to be raised as a by-product of the dairy industry, rather than being bred for meat (the female goats must give birth regularly in order to lactate). Inevitably, this means, as with male dairy calves, that baby billy goats are sent to slaughter since they can’t be used in the dairy industry.

Cabrito, founded by chef James Whetlor and farmer Jack Jennings, is hoping to change this by supplying quality goat meat to restaurants. They don’t breed goats for meat; rather they raise those born as a by-product of the dairy industry, and only take goats from farms with high welfare standards. Currently, Cabrito is supplying restaurants such as Quo Vadis, St John, 10 Greek Street and Bocca di Lupo. You can also purchase their meat from Flock & Herd ** butchers in Peckham, which is where I got mine.

In terms of nutrition (see below), goat is an excellent health choice, containing less fat than chicken, and more iron than beef. It’s also very high in potassium, which is good for balancing out the negative effects of salt in our diet.

Meat (100g cooked)

Fat (g)

Saturated fat (g)

Calories (kcal)

Iron (mg)

Potassium (mg)

Comments

Goat

3.0

0.9

143

3.7

405

Veal

7.6

3.0

172

1.0

337

Beef

10.5

4.1

219

2.0

355

Sirloin, trimmed

Chicken

6.6

1.8

167

1.2

229

Roasted, meat only

Source: USDA “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference” Release 25, September 2012

** I’m not sure Flock & Herd still stocks goat meat, but you can now buy the goat meat from The Ginger Pig and The Quality Chop House.

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