Jamaican Goat Curry
Goat meat is the best! Please welcome Hank Shaw as he takes us through a wonderfully spicy way to prepare goat. ~Elise
“What are we going to do with this goat?” Elise asked. Her acupuncturist Steve had given her an entire front shoulder of a goat from a local farm.
Why not goat curry? It was one of my favorite Jamaican foods growing up in New Jersey, along with those awesome meat patties the street hawkers would sell on corners in New York City. Rich, filling and spicy, goat curry (often made with beef back then, when goat was a little harder to find in NYC) was just as good on a hot day as a cold one.
Turns out this is one of the great dishes of Jamaica, along with jerk chicken. No matter which meat you use, the long-simmered stew makes great use of tough cuts of meat, or those with bones in them. Definitely use goat if you can find it – look in ethnic markets, especially a halal market if your town has one – but the dish works fine with lamb, too. Substitute beef if you’d rather.
You need to know that Jamaican curry powder is different from Indian curries, although they tend to have most of the same ingredients: turmeric, coriander, cumin, mustard, cayenne and the like. Jamaican curry is heavier on the allspice, so if you cannot find the real stuff, mix in some allspice with regular curry powder.
Is this stew spicy? You bet, but it’s not so fiery as you might think. We used one habanero chile, and I could barely detect the heat – although Elise could taste it. If you are into hot food, you could use as many as 4-5 habaneros here.
Time is your friend with goat curry. While it’s good freshly made, the stew deepens over time and is actually better several days afterward. It will last for a week or so in the fridge, so make a batch big enough to feed the Jamaican bobsled team and eat it for your lunches during the week.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 6-8 Tbsp curry powder
- 1 Tbsp allspice (see step 1)
- 3 pounds goat (can use lamb or beef if you can't find goat)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1-2 habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and chopped
- A 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 15-ounce cans coconut milk
- 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 3-4 cups water
- 5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Make the curry powder. If you can find Jamaican curry powder, definitely use it. If not, use regular curry powder and add the allspice to it. You will need at least 6 tablespoons of spices for this stew, and you can kick it up to 8-9 depending on how spicy you like it.
2 Cut the meat into large chunks, maybe 2-3 inches across. If you have bones, you can use them, too. Salt everything well and set aside to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
3 Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and heat until fragrant.
4 Pat the meat dry and brown well in the curried oil. Do this in batches and don’t overcrowd the pot. It will take a while to do this, maybe 30 minutes or so. Set the browned meat aside in a bowl. (When all the meat is browned, if you have bones, add them and brown them, too.)
5 Add the onions and habanero to the pot and sauté, stirring from time to time, until the onions just start to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle some salt over them as they cook. Add the ginger and garlic, mix well and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
6 Put the meat (and bones, if using) back into the pot, along with any juices left in the bowl. Mix well. Pour in the coconut milk and tomatoes and 5 tablespoons of the curry powder. Stir to combine. If you are using 2 cans of coconut milk, add 3 cups of water. If you’re only using 1 can, add 4 cups of water. Add the thyme. Bring to a simmer and let it cook until the meat is falling-apart tender, which will take at least 2 hours. Longer if you have a mature goat.
7 Once the meat is close to being done – tender but not falling apart yet – Add the potatoes and mix in. The stew is done when the potatoes are. Taste for salt and add some if it needs it.
8 You might need to skim off the layer of fat at the top of the curry before serving. Do this with a large, shallow spoon, skimming into a bowl. Also, be sure to remove any bones before you serve the curry.
The stew is better the day after, or even several days after, the day you make it.
Serve with Jamaican rice and peas, a coconut rice with kidney beans.