This month we’re all about our favorite Caprines, the goats! Following a sexy South Florida event with StarChefs, we caught up with Chef Kris Wessell from Wessel’s Tropical BBQ in Miami to get his thoughts on goat.Goat is not the most common protein on American menus; what’s the key to making it work?
I’ve always cooked goat in all my restaurants, from Redlight to Oolite to my new spot, Wessel’s Tropical BBQ (opening next month), as I tend to focus on Florida regional and Caribbean flavors. My guests are typically foodies, and are looking for those ethnic and cultural influences. I like to think I’ve earned their trust, so they’re very open to having goat, oxtail, alligator, and even python! Even in a posh restaurant setting like Oolite, those guests would take a chance on goat. People are finding the similarities to lamb, it’s just one more step out from there.What are the keys to cooking with goat?
It’s so lean, tenderizing is key. Whether I’m braising, smoking or searing, I always start with a rub, and go heavy because I know I’m going to lose some when I sear it. I like to use bone-in cuts, and braises work great. Cooking low and slow tenderizes but keeps the color nice and pink. At Oolite, we’d braise it, vacuum it in portions and keep it sous vide at temperature, then glaze it and hit it quickly on a grill or broiler for service. Your StarChefs dish used a fruit called Sapodilla (sap-oh-deeya); what is that?
Sapodilla is a small, pear-like fruit that grows down here in Florida and the islands. It tastes like brown sugar and pears. They used to use the extract to make chewing gum because of its natural elasticity. It’s super-sticky! What do you like about goat?
I love that strong, earthy, “wild” flavor. It’s not as intense as venison, but stronger than lamb. I’ve done goat sliders with fresh thyme; you actually have to add fat because it’s so lean. But it’s surprisingly versatile; a lot of chefs can be intimidated by the leanness and they’re missing out! What advice would you give a chef who wants to get into goat?
For beginners, I’d recommend taking a larger cut like a half-shank, sear and braise slowly and work from there. You can get a sense of the flavor and let your palate lead you to how you want to flavor it.
And from a flavor perspective, the sky’s the limit, from thyme and black pepper to exotic fruit. Try all kinds of spice, curries and Asian flavors like ginger, star anise. It can stand up to anything. I find it needs a little added fat for balance, so it works great with a bit of pork or beef fat.