Goat meat probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you imagine tender, juicy, fall off the bone roasted meat. Well, at least if you live in the US or most of the western world. In many places, goat meat is the first choice for protein, and it’s amazingly flavorful and tender if you know how to cook it. One of the most forgiving cuts goat leg, and a properly slow roasted goat leg will top a beef pot roast any day.
My parents visit from California every year, and they’re always befuddled by our lifestyle. It’s the little things, like when I pulled a whole roast goat leg out of the oven for dinner. They were skeptical, but by now they know they can trust what comes out of my kitchen, no matter how strange it seems at first.
One bite and dad was impressed. He said, “It tastes just like great grandma’s pot roast! I can’t believe it.”
Great grandma was a product of the depression, and it wouldn’t surprise me if her pot roast was made out of an old dairy goat more than once. The thing is, in their 30+ years together, mom hadn’t ever been able to come close to the flavor of great grandma’s pot roast. My dad was in heaven and went from goat meat skeptic to believer in just one bite.
Where to Buy Goat Meat
Goat meat is becoming much more popular in the US these days, as people return to more traditional ways of cooking. Just a decade ago goat meat could only be purchased at ethnic markets, or by buying a whole live goat. The rise in backyard dairy goats has also increased the availability of goat meat. Those cute little homestead dairy goats have to be bred every year of they’ll stop producing milk, and each year they give birth to up to 4 goat kids. Like it or not, some of those goats have to end up on the table, no animal can sustain that reproductive rate year after year.
Given the surplus of goat kids, we used to buy a pair of goat kids each year for about $20. These days I’m chasing toddler kids instead of human kids, and I was happy to be gifted a crate of goat meat from my friends at Green Mountain Girls Farm. They raise dual-purpose goats for a meat and dairy operation. They’re just one of at least a dozen small farms in Vermont that sell goat meat commercially.
If you don’t want to raise goats yourself, seek out a farmer selling chevon, which is the technical name for goat meat (like pork is for pig meat).
How to Cook a Goat Leg
Leg of goat is one of the most forgiving cuts of goat meat. The taste is mild, and slow roasted goat leg will quickly win over goat meat skeptics. A dry rub helps to flavor the meat and ensures that the meat doesn’t dry out during a long slow cook.
My favorite goat leg recipe uses a simple dry rub. For a 3-pound goat leg, I add 2 teaspoons of each salt, sugar, garlic powder and onion powder. Feel free to add spices based on your own tastes, but believe it or not goat meat doesn’t need intense spices to taste amazing. Salt and a tiny bit of sugar help to bring out its natural flavor, beyond that the seasoning is up to you.
After dry rubbing the goat leg, wrap it tightly in foil and allow it to rest 24 hours in the refrigerator. The salt and sugar are going to pull moisture out of the meat, and that cooking liquid will be trapped in the foil and will help to braise the goat meat.
If you’re not a fan of foil, place the meat in a roasting pan, that works too. Just make sure the drippings are captured after the dry rub marinade.
Pull the meat out of the refrigerator, and allow it to come to room temperature on the counter for an hour or two before cooking. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once the oven is hot, immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and put the goat leg into the oven.
The hot initial temperature will help to sear the exterior of the goat meat, and then the slow cook will ensure a tender roast. A three-pound goat leg takes 6 to 8 hours to cook, and once it’s done the meat will pull back from the bone and you’ll be able to see the that it’s visibly contracted.
At this point, test the goat leg with a fork. The meat should fall away from the bone. You should be able to pull off a forkful of goat meat with almost no effort. Give it a taste and feel the tender meat just melt in your mouth!
Slow Roasted Goat Leg
A dry rub marinade and a long slow cook help ensure a tender, flavorful leg of goat.
- 3 lb goat leg, whole
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
Combine the salt, sugar and seasonings in a small bowl.
Coat the outside of the goat leg completely and wrap the meat tightly in foil. Refrigerate the meat for at least 4 hours, but ideally 24 hours. Bring the meat out of the refrigerator and return to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once it's up to temperature, place the foil-wrapped meat on a baking sheet and put it into the hot oven.
Immediately turn the oven down to 300 degrees and slow roast the goat leg for 6 to 8 hours. It is done when the meat pulls back from the bone and comes away easily with a fork.
Serve this recipe for slow roasted goat leg as you would a pot roast, perhaps with a side of vegetables and mashed potatoes.
Goat Leg Recipes
If you’re looking for more ideas, try any of these slow roasted goat leg recipes. Just about all of them have a similar cooking process, but the seasonings vary considerably.
I’ve also seen quicker recipes for roast goat leg, that have a higher temperature and shorter cook time (2-3 hours). These recipes won’t be pot roast tender, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A whole roasted goat leg that you can slice with a knife might be the perfect centerpiece to any meal where you’d serve a leg of lamb.
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