Goat Leg Osso Buco Sous Vide

posted in: Cooking, Savory | 37
photo credit: victor@alcantaraphoto.com

Americans are squeamish about their meats. When I lived in Italy it was no problem finding horse, rabbit and goat meat, in fact it was the norm. I will never understand how someone can eat a cow with no problem but a bunny is deemed “too cute.” The whole business of butchery is a necessary and often gruesome evil no matter which animal you’re killing, so it doesn’t occur to me to eat my meats based on the ascending scale of adorability.

photo credit: Jonna Bell www.Vasyfille.com

Some of it can be attributed to cultural familiarity. When I tried to get the turkey for American Thanksgiving in Italy every year, more than one butcher looked at me quizzically and inquired as to whether I was Russo aka Russian. According to the Italians, the Russians are the only ones hardcore enough to want an entire turkey, and I soon found out why. In the US, turkeys typically reach market between 14 and 20 weeks of age. They range in size on average from 15-30 pounds. In contrast, Italian turkeys are raised with the idea that the parts of the bird will be sold separately, more like a cow. Therefore they are older and much, much bigger.

photo credit: Jonna Bell

A week after I’d placed my order at the macelleria for the turkey, I went to pick it up. The macelliao told me this was on the small side, but it was so big I could hardly carry it and I was thankful I had brought a rolling handcart with which to wheel it down bustling Corso di Gasperi to my flat. Once home, my husband and I weighed Marinella the turkey. She came in at 18 kilos- that’s about 40 pounds.

photo credit: me with help from color effects and instagram

With this story I mean to illustrate the fact that cultural mores contribute to diet and no culture is “right” per se, but I’d love it if the US could learn a little from Europe and Asia in terms of variety meats, and perhaps Italy will clue in to the fact that younger turkeys are more tender and a helluva lot easier to wheel home from the market.

photo credit: Jonna Bell

But this is a story about goat meat. Goat evangelists like Mark Scarborough and Bruce Weinstein have been singing the praises of goat meat, milk and cheese, most notably in their new book, Goat: Meat, Milk and Cheese. Producers are starting to hear these incantations, slowly but surely.

photo credit: Jonna Bell

It used to be that you had to duck into a back alley butcher in the international district if you wanted to find goat, and even then the dubious origin of the meat was enough to give a conscious omnivore pause. But now goat is experiencing the beginnings of a renaissance- just last week I saw sustainably-raised goat in reputable shop Bill the Butcher as well as at a stall at the Columbia City Farmer’s Market called Tobotan Creek Farms. I picked up a whole leg and hatched a plan.

Recently, the very kind people at Polyscience donated this immersion circulator to my growing pile of contemporary kitchen paraphernalia. They felt it was high time I weaned myself off the Sous Vide Supreme and step into the kitchen with the “big boys” of sous vide cookery. I enthusiastically agreed. There are two main advantages of the Polyscience immersion circulator over the Sous Vide Supreme. One is more consistent regulation of temperature and the other is versatility in terms of portability.

photo credit: victor@alcantaraphoto.com

The Polyscience immersion circulator is essentially a wand that you can place in any vat of water to heat. This means if you are cooking something small like an egg you can use a stockpot or if you are doing something large like a goat leg you can use a giant plastic Cambro food storage box.  I would have been unable to cook the whole 22” goat leg inside the Sous Vide Supreme without hacking it up, and by contrast, when I cooked an egg the next morning it only took 10 minutes to get the water to temperature because the water volume in a little pot is so much smaller than the standard bath in the Sous Vide Supreme. Not everyone needs the capacity, regulation or versatility of the Polyscience immersion circulator, but hey, isn’t it nice to drive a Lamborghini even though a Volvo might do?

photo credit: Jonna Bell

After careful consideration, I decided to prepare the goat leg in the style of osso buco, but modified for sous vide. I cooked the cryovacked leg at 139°F for 48 hours. It turned out to be the perfect time and temperature- just high enough to encourage collagen breakdown but low enough that the leg was still medium rare. The true wonder of sous vide and meat is that you can cook a tough, sinewy cut of meat for long enough that it becomes fall-off-the-bone tender and yet the meat remains sub-medium.

photo credit: victor@alcantaraphoto.com

In honor of the goatcasion (that’s an occasion where goat is involved), Jonas and I assembled a group of 14 revelers for dinner, you know, because my goat leg brings all the boys to the yard. Of course most of those boys brought their husbands, and try as I might, I could not get Marc to deep throat the bone, so clearly I am not as well-versed at entertaining the boys in the yard as I might like.

photo credit: victor@alcantaraphoto.com

My two semi-professional photographer friends Jonna and Victor tag-teamed the photography featured in this post because I was a bit busy goat wrestling. I think they did a very nice job, don’t you? Jameson brought a magnum of pinot noir that he hand-carried all the way back from the Loire, and Jon brought fancy salmon and even fancier pie. Sarah made sure we all ate our vegetables and everyone at the table drooled over her Nudie Foodies photo. Patrick kept us in baguettes and rhubarb, and Justin, Michael and Leslie provided entertainment whilst also being ridiculously good-looking.

photo credit: victor@alcantaraphoto.com

It’s funny how at a party people will maintain an aura of politeness about something until they’ve knocked back a few glasses of wine. I had no idea there was so much goat trepidation in the world. I heard audible sighs of relief and pleasure all around me and suddenly all the loose-lipped partygoers began to tell horror stories of badly-prepared goat.

photo credit: Jonna Bell www.vasyfille.com

Apparently goat is prone to dryness, which is why sous vide cooking is a particularly effective method. Everyone at the table who had eaten goat previously said this osso buco version was the best goat they’d tried. Goat tastes to me like lamb mixed with a lingering hint of chevre. Some describe it as “gamey” but I’ve never been a fan of applying that word to meats, for lack of defining characteristics.

photo credit: Jonna Bell

I very much winged the recipe so I’m not going to write it here since it was more one of those “a little bit of this, a generous ladle of that” kind of dishes. There are a few defining steps along the way, however. 48 hours in the water bath at 139° F was perfect. I had made an osso buco sauce that simmered on the stove, and when I cut into the goat bag, I poured about a cup of the juices from the goat into the sauce to finish it. I then seared the goat quickly on very high heat to evoke the Maillard reaction. I served the osso buco with risotto Milanese and parsley gremolata. I highly recommend it.

photo credit: Jonna Bell

Get into the goat groove, baby. You won’t regret it.

photo credit: Jonna Bell
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37 Responses

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  5. Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!

  6. I loved the Chingale I ate in Italy. I even ate cat and enjoyed it. However, at the time I was told it was rabbit.

    I’m looking forward to my wife, Ginger, preparing a goat osso-buco tonight. I’m pretty sure it will be the correct meat because I went with her to the farm where the goat was raised.

  7. I love the goat, we tried it over the weeked, using my Polyscience Sous Vide Professional from http://www.sousvideaustralia.com. It worked out melting just like you said it would. I used baharat and thyme to give it a middle eastern feel.

    Linda Reply:

    @Dale, So happy to hear it worked out. I love my polyscience too.

  8. […] is my favorite recipe for goat so far. (I have yet to try out Salty Seattle’s sous vide method, so I’m leaving some wiggle room). No, it has nothing to do with being able to toss the word […]

  9. Sommer J

    I love love goat meat! Nervously tried some when I was 18 and fell in love. Was got curry mm Mmm Mmm, mon! For sure all kinds of meat is available here that a lot of US markets don’t carry. You hear about italy’s president getting in grouble for serving BEAR meat at his luncheon? Its a delicacy (and now illegal) in Italy, I’m kind of intrigued.

    The goat leg looks incredible! The closest i will probably find is mutton, in these parts though. Will have to go to a larger city for goat..

  10. Somehow, out of all the sous vide inspiration I’ve gotten from you this one in particular has me thinking I might just give it a try sooner rather than later :-) Maybe it’s the goat…which I completely obsessed with at the moment, thanks to Bill the Butcher as well. In any event, that looks beyond delicious!

  11. Beautiful goat leg! I love the way the meat just falls right off the bone, spooned into a yummy rice and lamb bite! The Arabs over here like to serve the head over rice on a silver platter, not quite as dinner party friendly :) Good job Linda!!!

  12. Gorgeous osso, baby! I love the instagram photo. I’m loving the trickery with color. I like knowing that an immersion circulator is something you can rig up at home with the help of that trusty gadget. Not sure I’ll be making one up to night..but then again, anything is a possibility! Great cooking, Brooke

  13. Hi Linda – so interesting, this preparation! And the party sounds like a hoot.
    Smart to have your friends take photos, they are terrific, yours too, I saw it on Tastespotting.

  14. Linda this is a wonderful post. I love the way you tackle the goat (so to speak) in the kitchen and in the way you write about it. If there’s any place I would like to try my first goat, it’s definitely chez toi! Looks absolutely incredible and, of course, it’s always fun to have more gadgets to play with !!!

  15. And you didn’t invite me? (It IS all about me, you know?) Seriously, this looks beyond fabulous. My mouth is watering! (Bruce, by the way, says goat tastes like a cross between pork and wild turkey.)

  16. Your blog is so beautiful, I absolutely love your photographs. I wish I had that talent!

  17. I completely agree with everyone having attitude about what type of meat they eat. I think it is what we are accustomed to that dictates our appetites. I am not really a meat eater myself because I just don’t care for it but I would not hesitate to fix it for my family or taste it. We should try everything, just be ethical about it. Loved this post.

  18. Really enjoyed this post and your recounting of life in Italy…and, of course, the goat osso buco. Def looks like a dinner party I would have enjoyed…had I been invited! :)

  19. john v phipps

    Congrats on the PolyScience Pro. You are going to love it. My PolyScience Pro is running almost all the time. Even took it with me to a friend’s house last weekend for a Pie Day celebration. Most of the pies were of the sweet persuasion, but I butter poached veggies for savory meat pies.

    I am still your idea to see if we can do a whole pig in a big cambro. We can use multiple circulators to heat masses of water. The trick will be finding a huge cryovac bag. Maybe one of those SpaceBags for sweaters and blankets that you hook up to the vacuum cleaner. :<)

    Linda Reply:

    @john v phipps, In Italy I used to see whole suckling pigs already cryovacked- that would be awesome!

  20. That’s gorgeous. I had some really amazing goat belly confit in Chicago. I’ve had goat tacos before that were good but not my favorite but the confit was just amazing.

    The best part of sous vide it doesn’t make your house a million degrees from having the oven on and a superior piece of meat is made. I have my machine upstairs its commercial grade but i think its not working just right maybe i can get it repaired.
    happy summer what a beautiful dinner party!

    Linda Reply:

    @Kimberly(unrivaledkitch), Goat belly confit? Sign me the eff up right now! Thanks for the new idea, girl.

  21. Hi Linda,

    Great post. Love the photos! Awesomeness. I was wondering, I heard that rabbit is pretty lean (i’ve never cooked it before). Any tips? Your photos are so delicious. I love how the sun just kisses the top of the dish. Congrats!!


    Linda Reply:

    @Christine @knapkins_com, Rabbit is tricky because you really have to treat the different parts differently. I like to confit the legs and treat the saddles like good steak- medium rare all the way. Here’s one idea: http://www.saltyseattle.com/2010/09/rabbit-roulade-confit-spinach-panna-cotta-peanut-coconut-espuma/

  22. Way to, uh, go for the goat! I bet sous vide was a really great way to cook goat meat – I’ve also heard the main issue with it is dryness/stringiness. Looks like an ab fab party (I love your dress) and a great step toward mainstreaming goat.

    Linda Reply:

    @Celia, After hearing tales of toughness, I’ll likely only go sous vide with goat from here on out. Maybe we should write a goat fight song?

  23. I love goat! Your turkey story in Italia was a good hoot. Are you a Russo? Hahahaha. Like you, I think that Americans needs to be exposed to a bigger variety of meats. The dinner party looks like you all had a very fun time!

    Linda Reply:

    @Hester aka The Chef Doc, I got that Russian thing all the time when I was there. Not a drop of ancestry to back it up, either.

  24. This is just goaterrific! Why do I live so far away? This is one goatcasion I would have liked to trip. Oh, and now I want a Lamborghini Polyscience immersion circulator. Punk.

    Linda Reply:

    @Fuji Mama, Well someday I have faith that you will come visit and we will goat sous vide it up all night long, baby.

  25. Well done! A table full of beautiful people and a sous vide goat leg. Jealous on both scores.

    Linda Reply:

    @Jacqueline, Aww, thanks, it was a great time.

  26. That you and I are on the same page at the same time is, is..well, something. Just saw my first goat at the market; now hosting a challenge hoping people will try it. I have no idea what I’m going to do but I’m excited to see what comes of the venture. My goat will more likely bring the girls to the yard…my children, who I hope will be open minded and join our Got Goat campaign!

    Thanks for including your post with our #Goaterie challenge; I’m excited to see what this month brings! Your pioneer spirit gives me great hope!

  27. Kathy Gori

    love love love this! It looks absolutely scrumptious and that is a five dollar word I don’t toss around lightly. I’ve cooked goat quite a bit and the stories of scarey dry goat from diners abound. I love changing their mind about it. WhT i’m really curious about is the cool little device that souvides without a machine. Could I use that in a clay pot???? It seems so much easier that those big sou vide boxes I see. I also envy how you actually look clean and stylish while cooking something i have yet to accomplish

  28. Quite an auspicious goatcasion. I’m incredibly impressed and hella jealous of your Polyscience immersion circulator. Want. Goat is all over the menus in Cayman but I haven’t found one that isn’t tough to chew yet…

    Linda Reply:

    @Parsley Sage, Interesting- sounds like you need to bring sous vide to the Caymans

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