I grew up raising market steers as 4H projects, which in a round-about way is what lead us to being goat-meat eaters.
That's not a steer, that's Nila, our oldest brood cow. Sadly, my dad decided she had outlived her useful life as a brood cow and sold her this spring. She was ten, which is old for a cow. One of the many lessons you learn on a farm - mama cows are nice to have around, nice to pet (this one was especially friendly), but at the end of the day a farm is a business and we cannot keep cows until they die. They start having breeding problems, calving problems, and general all around health problems. So once a cow gets to a ripe old age, off she goes. Nila was sold at a sale where she will go off to another farm and likely be bred for a few more years. Unfortunately, at the end of the useful life of most cows, they are sold at the "auction barn", and head for the meat packer. For those of you who buy meat at the store, wake up - old cows are alot of times what you are buying when you buy ground meat. Not all old cows and horses go to dog food. Hamburger that you buy at your local store almost always will contain some meat from old cows. That is why I always try to buy my meat locally.
Hence the reason I buy market animals at the fair! It works like this - Johnny 4H-er raises a market animal (sheep, goat, hog, or lamb) so that at the time of the county fair (ours is the end of July), the animal is ready to butcher. When I raised steers, we bought them as calves in July or August, and had them for almost a year. Hogs are obtained in April, lambs in May, and I'm not sure about goats. The kids then pay to feed them, train them to be shown, and take care of the animal. At the fair, the kids show the animals and the animals are judged according to how well the animals are conditioned (i.e. are they ready for market). At the end of the fair, the animals are auctioned and people can buy the animal. The animals are sent from the fair straight to the butcher and the purchaser picks up the finished product at the butcher. The butcher will cut and pack your animal to your liking (steaks, roasts, chops, brisket, sausage, hamburger, you name it, he can do it for you). More info here on the Marshall County Livestock Club (where I buy my animals).
Back when I first became employed, I wanted to give back to a program I had participated in for YEARS, and purchase an animal at the fair auction. Given that there are only two people in my household, even a whole hog seemed like more meat than we could handle. Enter the first goat purchase. I admit, I was somewhat skeptical at first. Even after sampling the goat roast samples that were handed out at the sale (which were delicious), I was still worried. However, after my first meal of goat meat, I was hooked. Goat meat has a wonderfully mild flavor, not at all like lamb. And forgive me for bashing lamb here, but I've never had GOOD lamb. To me, it all tastes like they smell.
Goat meat, on the other hand, tastes nothing like lamb. I call it almost a red-meat. Its not a light colored meat, like pork or chicken, but its not a dark red meat either. Its something like venison. If you've had good venison that doesnt have a "gamey" or "wild" flavor, so far as taste goes, that is what I would say goat is as close to in comparison. Goat has a little more fat than venison, but much less fat than beef. If you ever purchase a goat, the best way to make it go the farthest is to get much of the meat ground, with a few roasts. The chops are good, but I dont recommend them because they are very small!
No pictures...but I promise our goat meat dinner was colorful and it was GOOD.
1 bunch of kale tore into 1-2 inch pieces
1 lb of ground meat (I used ground goat sausage)
1 can beans (I used garbanzos, but I'm sure any kind would work well, just rinse and drain)
1 can diced tomatoes, slightly drained
1/2 large white onion, diced
salt, pepper, garlic to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
Heat 2 tbs oil in a deep pan, add the onion. Cook onion until softened, a couple of minutes or so. Add the ground meat and cook until browned. Add the kale and 1/4 cup water. Cover and let the kale steam. If the pan dries up before the kale is done, add more water. When the kale is almost done to your liking (it will take a little bit, kale is a pretty tough veggie), add the beans and tomatoes. Cook until almost all of the liquid is gone in the pan.
I served my man's serving over some chicken-flavored noodles (aka Lipton noodles or something similar), and just had mine in a huge pile in a bowl, no noodles.
And on a final note about the tomatoes. I never EVER buy tomatoes at the grocery this time of year. And hardly ever buy them at the grocery store during spring and summer months. This time of year, canned tomatoes are the way to go, as most canned tomatoes are canned during the peak of the harvest. The tomatoes you buy at the store this time of year ARE NOT RIPE! Tomatoes that must travel large distances are picked while they are still green because they are more durable during shipping. For those of you who have ever grown tomatoes, or even made fried green tomatoes, you know that green tomatoes are 100x harder than ripe, red, juicy tomatoes. Once the green tomatoes reach a destination that is close to the market, they are then stored in a huge silo. Ethylene gas is then pumped into the silo. The gas causes a reaction in the tomato that turns the skin red. However, the tomato does not develop the natural sugars that it otherwise would if it were ripened on the vine. Hence, you have a red-colored unripe tomato. If you dont believe me, this summer when you have an unripe-tomato, put it in a paper bag with an apple or a banana (these fruits give off alot of ethylene), and it will turn red. The sugars that give a tomato its flavor dont develop once the tomato is off the vine. So in the winter, stick to canned tomatoes, youll thank me!