. Yes, you read that correctly, goat! That's because Deborah of Old Shoes, New Trip likes to push us the the limits of our comfort zone and boy did she succeed with this one.
For me, it struck a cord on several levels - 1) Goat - need I say more? 2) Fennel - I'm not a big fennel eater 3) Preserved lemons - do I make, do I buy and if so, where??
Really, I think all along, I had no intention of making this recipe, or if I did make it, I always intended to substitute lamb shanks, which is really no substitute at all, since the original recipe upon which this one was based, actually called for lamb. No matter though, I didn't believe it was going to happen for me. Until...
I woke up on Saturday in a semi-adventurous mood. So that was me, calling all the halal butchers in the area to see if they had goat shanks. Well, it was hard enough for them to understand that I wanted goat - my accents and theirs got in the way, let alone the shanks. But I persevered and finally found a butcher in the next town over that at least had goats, if not the shank.
Next, was the preserved lemons. Yes, I was in an adventurous mood but no, I was not in the mood to do any extra work than necessary. Amy said a Lebanese market would/should have preserved lemons so I called our local market and they told me they did have them.
Got dressed and headed out the door.
First stop was the Phoenecian Bakery for preserved lemons. All I have to say is why don't I pop in there more often!! Seriously, the place smells fantastic. They have all sorts of great food items, preserved olives, fresh pita, Turkish coffee and both dried and preserved lemons (spicy and regular). We purchased some oil-cured olives and some lemons but passed on the baklava (this time).
Next stop, the supermarket where I couldn't find fennel (seriously) but did fine "anise" which I'm assuming is the same thing.
Last stop was Mawab Grill near five corners. This was an adventure unto itself. The store isn't crammed full with stuff (some curry mixes, a refrigerator section filled with sodas and milk, and a small hot "buffet" area that had some prepared dals, biyriani and a couple of other items). The butcher case was empty.
But there was one burka-clad woman behind the register, three gentlemen butchering and grinding meat behind the counter and two gentlemen up front. When I approached the elder and started to speak, he immediately knew who I was when I said I called. "Ah, yes the goat. Come with me."
He led me behind the counter and into walk-in refrigerator where four full goats hung from hooks. I showed him which part I thought would be the shank (upper arm/leg and shoulder) but he told me he couldn't cut that part from each of the goats, so instead they cut me an entire leg which one of the other men, who spoke no English, I used my fingers to indicate how big, cut into chunks for me to stew.
He wanted to know what I was doing with the goat and I explained the tagine to him and told him, if we liked it, we'd be back. And we will!
After leaving the store we headed home and I got to work.
Chopped Goat Leg
Since they did such a nice job of sawing the leg for me (bone and all), all I had to do was salt and pepper the meat and then brown it in my big Le Cruset. Then I removed the meat and added my sliced onion and fennel ... well heck I just followed the recipe below.
Goat Tagine Before it Went into the Oven
The house smelled incredible all afternoon and the meat was done in less than the three hours the recipe called for (probably because of my smaller chunks); it was tender after about two hours. I added the remaining ingredients and then let it cook for another 30 minutes. It was only 4:30 at this point, but that was the idea - we had a wine tasting to go to Saturday night and wouldn't be eating this until later. I removed as much of the bone and cartilage as I could and put the tagine into the refrigerator.
Later when we got home (about 9:30), we just steamed some broccoli, made an instant polenta, and reheated the tagine and within 15 minutes we had a great dinner!
Goat Tagine with Broccoli and Polenta
Oh, and you Weight Watcher people - don't knock it. Goat is very lean and tasty and low in points too. Figuring about 6 servings for this dish, each is only 5 points (not including polenta)!
Goat Shank Tagine (originally from Figments: From the Menu)
2.5 pound leg of goat (I used bone and all - cut into 2 inch cubes - have butcher do it)
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise
2 medium bulbs of fennel, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise
1 large pinch of saffron threads, lightly finger-crushed
6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground coriander seed
1 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground cumin
2 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground fennel seed
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup fresh tomato peeled and chopped, or good boxed/canned chopped tomatoes
4 cups, low sodium no fat chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro tied with butcher string, for easy removal later
1/2 cup oil-cured olives
1 large preserved lemon or 2 small/medium, rinsed and quartered
Preheat oven to 375. Salt and pepper the goat. Brown them over medium-high heat in a large, deep casserole that will fit all the meat and go in the oven. Remove shanks from the pan and add olive oil, onions and half the fennel and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the saffron, garlic, ginger and all spices and cook another 5 minutes. Add the honey and tomatoes and cook a few minutes. Add stock and tuck shanks back into pot along with the cinnamon stick and tied cilantro. Bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in the oven until tender, about 2 hours. Check every so often; add more liquid if necessary. Add olives, lemon and remaining fennel to the stew the last 15 minutes of cooking. It is finished when the fennel is tender and the meat is buttery and falling off the bone. Taste and season as necessary.