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America's Reluctant Love Of Goats And Their Meat

Melodie Edwards

With goats flocking all around him for ear scratches, you could say Terry Hayes is a happy rancher. He’s the owner of the largest goat ranch in Wyoming, Open A Lazy S outside Riverton, and he says in the last few years his business has tripled. He says it’s because more people all the time are embracing the urban homesteader’s lifestyle. They’re raising backyard chickens, canning sauerkraut and knitting scarves. The number of backyard goats has also been on the uptick. Hayes says that’s because they take up so little space and have so many uses: milk, cheese, weed control, wool, and meat.

“It’s unbelievable to me how fast and how the market is changing,” he says. “We always primarily raised dairy goats. And then this last five years, we went into these boer goats and the boer goats have just superseded my dairy goats.”

By boer goats he means meat goats. He says he’s selling more to 4-H kids than ever before. And to hobby farmers.

“You know, everybody’s going back to the older times. Everybody’s starting to raise a garden again. Canning’s becoming popular again.”

One of those 4-Hers is 15-year-old Cannon Stuckert. She raises goats and chickens right in town in her Laramie backyard.

“I was the first one in my 4H club to start raising goats,” Stuckert says. “And then there’s like three more like in the past few years that have joined the goat raising. And in other clubs you just see at the fair, the barn is more full.”

You know, everybody's going back to the older times. Everybody's starting to raise a garden again. Canning's becoming popular again.

But rancher Hayes says when it comes to selling bulk goat meat on the market, there’s not many outlets in Wyoming. He mostly sells it in areas of the country where goat tacos are common on Tex Mex menus.

“Primarily, my large amount of goats go down to Colorado down through the butcher places down there,” Hayes says. “And then they ship them on the rail either down toward Texas and stuff. There’s just not as many people as cultured on eating up here.”

Not even in what many consider Wyoming’s most cultured corner: Jackson. Kevin Humphreys is the executive chef at Spur Restaurant and Bar at Teton Mountain Resort, which specializes in foods made from locally grown ingredients. His menu is full of quirky flavors, including goat cheese. But as for putting goat meat on his menu.

“You know, I’ve contemplated it,” he says, “but I just think it might be a hard sell.”

He says he thinks eventually, like bison, goat meat will be embraced by what he calls savvy eaters. It’s already making an appearance on many menus in Brooklyn and other large cities under its haute cuisine name, chevon. Personally, Humphrey’s is a fan.

“It’s actually a little bit sweeter than beef as well from a flavor profile of it.”

Credit Melodie Edwards
Artist Gail Shive making her curry.

Gail Shive is a home cook experimenting with a recipe inspired by a curried casserole called babotie that a friend from Zimbabwe made her.

She looks over her recipe as she cooks. “Parsley and chutney and raisins and coconut and rice are all fresh on the table. Peanut oil, lamb or goat, 2 cups of water, onions, apples, banana.”

Shive isn’t one to stick to recipes. She chops up crabapples from her tree and tosses them in the curry, too. But she is picky about how to sauté goat meat. She says you have to do it delicately, like you would chicken breast. That’s because it’s 98 percent lean.

“I wanted to get the goat meat seared before I put the spices in,” she says. “It locks the juices inside the meat to get it sealed on the outside and so it’ll maybe be a little tender.”

She’s experimenting with the recipe in hopes of serving it next to the turkey for Thanksgiving as another meat option. Normally, the recipe calls for lamb.  But for the last couple years, Shive has been substituting goat in all her recipes.

“When I noticed it, I thought, well, it’s cheaper than lamb, maybe I’ll try it.  And I didn’t think Peter would like it, necessarily—or like the idea of it, so I didn’t tell him right off. I just cooked it and he didn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell the difference myself.”

And neither could her husband Peter, who grew up loving lamb. There’s a bit of a marital dispute over when he officially found out he was eating goat.

“A month ago? Two months ago?” he says.

“What?” asks Gail.

“That I found out?”

“How would I know?”

“Because I probably said, Gail, what’s this goat stuff?”

“I don’t think you did,” Gail says.

Credit Melodie Edwards
Shive says it's best to add the bananas last.

We sprinkle coconut flakes, fresh parsley, and Gail’s orange marmalade sweet and sour sauce on the curry and sit down to eat. My first taste of goat meat? “It’s very tender!” I say. And the musky flavor goes great with the curry’s fruitiness.

I will say, I’ll definitely try the recipe at home. I just won’t tell the kids it’s goat.

Recipe: Gail's Goat Curry With Crabapple And Banana And Orange Marmalade Sweet And Sour Sauce

·        Brown onions in 1 tablespoon peanut oil

·        Sauté 2 packages of goat chops, chunked (or stew meat)

Add 2 cups liquid (water, chicken and veggie broth)

·        4 carrots, diced

·        2 potatoes, sliced

·        ½ cauliflower head, chopped

·        2 tart apples or 2 cups crabapples, chopped

·        1 banana, sliced (add last)

·        1 tablespoon tomato paste

·        1 dollop of red curry paste

·        Spices to taste: curry powder, allspice, cumin, bay leaf

Condiments for the table

·        Fresh parsley

·        Shredded coconut

·        Raisins

·        Chutney or…

Gail’s Orange Marmalade Sweet and Sour Sauce (See recipe below)

Bring to boil and simmer the following:

·        2/3 jar of good orange marmalade

·        1/3 jar mango lime chutney

·        2 tablespoons any wine or cooking wine

·        2/3 package of fresh rosemary, cut up with scissors (no stems)

·        1 tablespoon minced garlic

·        Splash of lemon juice

·        A good big swig of soy sauce

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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