Even during my vegetarian years, I salivated at the thought of ribs. I didn’t really think about the kind of animal when I thought about ribs, but there’s a good chance I was thinking about pork or beef ribs. There’s a fundamental difference between pigs, cows, and goats. The fat of the former two tastes great. Goat fat? Not so tasty. And the trick with ribs is that they’re loaded with fat. That abundance of not-so-scrumptious fat can be dealt with using an ideal method for goat-rib cooking. Unfortunately, this blog post will not reveal the details of that method.
Now, I have eaten really amazing goat ribs, prepared by someone else. The method reportedly involved a spice rub and a long, slow cook in a smoker. I’m guessing a lot of the fat had a chance to ooze out, leaving great-tasting goat meat behind. Maybe I should try that approach sometime. But that’s not what I did in this case.
After pulling the ribs out of the freezer, I let them thaw for a few days, then I did some trimming of readily removable fat. In addition, I did my best to remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs by running a long, flexible knife under the membrane along the bones and pulling off what I could. Removal of this membrane allows spices and flavors to better penetrate the meat. On the spice front, I started with some dried garlic, shown above right.
The garlic got powdered in a mortar and pestle along with some dried shiitakes and dried anchos, all in roughly equal proportions, for a total of a few tablespoons of powder. I also added about 2 teaspoons of salt.
I worked the spice mix into the meat, covered it, and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours. This time I used aluminum foil, but I really hate the wastefulness of foil; any expectation of cleaning goat grease off the foil for another reuse is mildly delusional. More recently, I’ve started covering baking pans with an upside down cookie sheet in place of disposable foil. That requires positioning the meat so it isn’t poking up above the sides of the pan, but with appropriate selection of a pan, it’s generally possible.
In any case, I popped it in the oven at about 250ºF and let it cook for nearly six hours.
Shortly before the ribs came out of the oven, I lost confidence that the spice rub was going to provide enough flavor. (Perhaps the aroma permeating the kitchen was to blame?) So I made a quick BBQ sauce by mixing and briefly simmering the following:
- 1/4 pint of homemade tomato paste
- ~4 garlic cloves (softneck)
- ~2 Tbl cider vinegar (next time use less)
- ~1 Tbl sorghum syrup
- ~1/2 Tbl home-fermented hot sauce
- ~1/4 cup water (as needed for thickness)
- a few chunks of home-canned tomato (fridge cleanup)
This is how the ribs looked when they came out of the oven. I slathered BBQ sauce on them and put them under the broiler for about 5 minutes.
We served them with a sorrel salad topped with redbud blossoms.
The verdict? Well, they were goat ribs. Eric noted that “The spice rub has a nice flavor.” My notes say they were “tender and falling apart in a desirable way” but “greasy in a goaty way.” We were very happy upon realizing that we still had some homemade ice cream in the freezer for dessert.
The real story in the preparation of these ribs is that I goofed before even pulling them out of the freezer. The reason has to do with fat. Meat pieces with a high fat content do not maintain high quality for as long as leaner cuts, even in a frozen state. Stored for too long, fat begins to go rancid. First, this is subtle, but eventually it becomes really nasty. The lesson is to eat the fatty parts of an animal early. These ribs ended up staying in the freezer for over a year. They were still fresh enough to eat, but noticeably past an ideal age for eating. [Anyone paying attention to this series, Cooking with Kid, may note that this post is dated over two years since the butchering date. When the busy growing season kicked in last year, I got behind on posts, and decided to wait to finish the series until the remaining posts became seasonal again.]
We love eating goat, but these ribs weren’t something we’d serve to anyone to convince them of the wonderful attributes of goat meat. On the other hand, if there are any vegetarians out there who wish to suppress cravings for ribs, we might have just the thing.