Monday, 30 January 2012

Slow Roasted Leg of Goat

Cooked in a Weber

What's going on here? One minute I'm stressing about having nothing to write about for my January blog, and the next minute I'm on to my second. They're sort of connected too. It was when we were staying with our friends in Herefordshire (see Ben's Curry Chicken Potjie), that I was taken to visit a fabulous local butcher, Legges of Bromyard. They had 2.5kg trays of mixed cuts of young goat for sale. How could I resist. Goat seems impossible to get hold of where I live yet here, 80 miles from home there it was, in abundance.

Our traditional Sunday family meal in the cooler months is a proper English roast dinner. We alternate between lamb, beef, pork and chicken with each family member having their particular favourite. Chicken with stuffing, beef with Yorkshire pud, pork with crackling, and lamb with mint sauce. So now it was to be goat. Our teenage daughter Kitty trembled at the thought (chicken is her favourite) and to be honest I was not looking forward to her asking what we would be having.

Weber chimney starter
My attraction to goat goes back to my time in Perth. I have two good friends there who occasionally satisfied my cravings for 'capretto' as a special treat. One had an outdoor wood fired oven and he would slow roast fist sized pieces in a large tray with garlic and herbs. I remember the smell wafting up the street as I arrived.

So here I was with a 1.2kg piece of goat leg and a bag of lumpwood charcoal. This was a big moment.

Goat is an incredibly lean and healthy meat. It benefits from slow roasting and some form of additional fat. I rubbed it with olive oil, and made a few slits between the muscles and inserted a couple of anchovy fillets and slivers of garlic. I laid it on a bed of rosemary sprigs in a pyrex roasting dish, tossed in a few trimmed heads of garlic and whacked it in the Weber.

I kept a bit of water in the bottom of the dish throughout the cooking time to provide a bit of steam and prevent the garlic and herbs from burning. It needed an extra splash from time to time. I also added a few knobs of butter on top of the meat about half way through.

It had a good hot start and was then left for about 2 1/2 hours with a gradually reducing temperature. Half an hour before the end I wrapped it in foil and removed the juices to add to the gravy which I was making on the hob. The gravy base was made simply with butter, flour and chicken stock.

The meat was tender and made a interesting change to our "English" Sunday roast. A jar of mint sauce on the table had a sufficiently Anglicising effect and really did go well with the meat. Well, Kitty did try it, smiled politely, and then left most of it neatly arranged around the edge of her plate so she could lap up the spuds and the gravy.

The other cuts from the 2 1/2 kg tray went into the freezer and will surface again soon in the form a proper 'curry goat', cooked over an open fire in my potjie, sorry, I don't have one so I'll give it a go in my Kotlich instead. Watch this space!

Ben's Chicken Curry Potjie

I have been so stressed about my January blog. We started the month in Australia, travelled back to the UK, and then reality set in. Work, work, work with so much to catch up on so Fire and Food was to be well and truly parked. Then I was saved. Saved by an invitation to visit to my foodie South African friend Ben in Herefordshire and the promise of a proper traditional potjie curry cooked over an open fire. So here I am, the second last day of January, relieved that I have a story to tell.

I just love all things South African, and a Cape Malay curry with great friends after a manic week of work was just too good to be true. We legged it from Oxfordshire as soon as school finished to miss the traffic and arrived in time to enjoy Bringsty Common at dusk. Bringsty Common itself is a delight. Over 200 acres of hills with just a few dozen rural homes scattered about. A perfect setting for a South African family in need of open space.

The moment we arrived I could smell the curry spices in the kitchen. The fire for the potjie had not yet been lit so there was plenty of time to enjoy the whole experience.

You might not associate South Africa with curry, but there is a huge Malay influence going back several centuries from when enslaved Javanese from modern day Indonesia were transported to the country by the Dutch East India Company. There remains a Cape Malay ethnic group and their food culture has become an integral part of South African cuisine.

A potjie (pronounced poit-kee) is a three legged cast iron pot for cooking over an open fire. Ben had his sitting on a purpose made ring in the base of his Weber.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

- 8-10 Chicken legs and thighs
- Two large onions, finely sliced
- Large piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 2-3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 1 handful of chopped potatoes
- 1 handful of chopped carrots
- 1 tbsp garam masala (for the dry rub)
- 1 tbsp medium curry powder (for the dry rub)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
- 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
- 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 star anise
- 1 piece of cinnamon bark
- 1 tbsp hot curry powder
- 1 extra tsp of garam masala


Coat the chicken pieces in the dry rub spices for at least a few hours before cooking. Get the pot nice and hot before browning the chicken pieces in the olive oil. Once browned remove the chicken pieces and cover them with foil. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and remaining spices to the pot and stir to mix in all the bits left in the pot from browning the chicken.

Once the onions are soft return the chicken pieces to the pot, add the tinned tomatoes and stir until it starts to simmer. Finally add the potatoes and carrots, put the lid on and let it be for an hour or so. The fire needs to be just hot enough to keep it at a gentle simmer.

By the time this baby came to the table it was sensational. Intensely aromatic and full of flavour. Ben served it up with rice, a refreshing cucumber salad, and rotis. A dish of traditional South African bobotie also graced the table. I've not had anything like it before, a rich meaty, fruity dish topped with a savoury custard and baked in the oven. We had some of it cold on toast the following morning. What a treat.

After the meal, the girls donned their pinnies and slashed 'a few' damsons in preparation for Tersia's mega batch of damson jam.

Thank you again Ben and Tersia, it was a meal to remember.

Sunrise at Bringsty Common

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