Oops, I just did. And it was super tender and super delicious.
I could make a thousand more horse related puns here but I will hold my tongue as eating horse is still a touchy subject in this country. I’ll stick to the facts and try not to offend anybody (for once in my life).
It is a little known fact that horse-meat has been exported to many European countries from Australia since the 70s. There are over 1.4 million horses in the country and some 30 – 40 thousand are sold every year overseas for either human or pet consumption.
So why don’t we eat horse?
It’s socially acceptable to eat baby lambs and baby pigs but not ok to eat a grown horse. We’re not talking foals here, I’m talking fully-grown beasts. I personally think there is really no good reason not to eat it as part of a balanced diet. The horse we ate was farmed, treated well and slaughtered humanely. Just like all the only millions of animals we eat each year. Horse-meat is a great source of protein, it’s lean and has a great flavour that sits somewhere between Venison and Veal.
Why is the only butcher licensed to sell horse-meat in Perth? Not fair! Anyway I was there recently and had to drop by and check out what was on offer. I had a chat with Vince the butcher and he kindly gave us 2kg of horse shoulder and 2kg of mince. I have eaten horse in France while on holiday but to be honest I’ve never tried cooking it myself so I set of into the sunset with my bag of horse meat into un-explored territory.
What ensued was a fantastic, delicious meal that I hope to repeat as soon as other butchers as courageous as Vince Gareeffa get their licences to sell horse-meat.
My recipe follows, beer braised shoulder of horse, served with a roasted cauliflower and Quinoa salad.
We cracked a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel for the occasion and what a match that was.
Beer braised shoulder of horse
2 brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
150 g flat pancetta, cut into batons
4 bay leaves
2 kg Horse shoulder, trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre Amber Ale
Pre-heat oven to 160˚C or if you are lucky enough crank up the wood fired oven.
In a large heavy based pot or casserole fry off the onions in olive oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes, add the carrot and garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the pancetta and bay and brown.
Add the horse shoulder and brown all over, season really well with sea salt and pepper. Pour in the beer and add enough water to cover and bring up to the boil.
Take a piece of baking paper about two inches larger than the size of the pot. Scrunch it up and then flatten it back out. Place this over the meat and seal with the lid of the pot.
Cook in the oven for 6 hours or until falling apart. It’s a good idea to check the progress every couple of hours. Top up with a little extra water or beer if required.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before serving.
We served the horse with a roasted cauliflower Quinoa salad. Horses like salad so it seemed like a good match.
I cooked the horse in Little Creatures Roger but I think a Pale Ale or a wheat beer would work equally well as the braising liquid.
On second thoughts, that title does sound a bit rude. But it’s not a goat threesome, it’s perfectly innocent. I’m talking about cooking a leg of goat in Mountain Goat beer and serving it with goats cheese. See? Goat in goat with goat!
Goat is one of those animals that is not widely consumed and really should be far more popular. Australia is a land of lamb-lovers (I mean for eating, not the New Zealand way), and that being the case, we really should love goat meat as well. It is incredibly tasty – just imagine the best lamb you’ve ever eaten and multiply it by two. It’s lean, which everyone seems to love these days, and fairly cheap. I can’t think of any negatives for it, except maybe that it could be difficult to get from your average suburban butcher. I’m lucky in that I can source it from the Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne any time in the mood for some goat, but your best bet is to try a suburb with a good cultural cross section. As I learnt from a certain little Greek chef I know, the Greeks love their goat.
Beer braising is a fantastic way to cook goat. As it’s so lean, it’s very easy to overcook goat when quick-cooking. A long, slow braise avoids this and the beer and herbs inject a great depth of flavour. I’ve chosen the Mountain Goat Hightail Ale for the job, not just because of the serendipitous name, but for it’s great grassy and floral tones and robust fruity flavour – a perfect match for goat I reckon. And as I’ve said ten million times, it’s really important to choose the right beer for the job.
This salad has a bit of a Middle Eastern flavour to it because of the addition of mint and pomegranate, and the punchy goats cheese adds an amazing zing to the final dish.
Goat in goat with goat (salad) Serves 4 to 8 depending on what you serve it with
1.5kg leg of goat (front leg is best)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves local garlic, roughly chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 x 330ml bottle of Mountain Goat Hightail Ale (or similar)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 pomegranate, seeds only
120 g Chevre goats cheese
Heat a little olive oil in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, season the goat liberally with sea salt and add to the saucepan and fry until well browned all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add a little more olive oil and fry the onions until they soften and get a little colour on them. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the goat back to the pan and pour over the beer. Add enough water to just cover the goat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 4 hours, or until goat is meltingly tender.
When done, remove the goat and keep in a warm place.
Strain the cooking liquid back into the saucepan; make sure you squeeze all the onion and garlic through the sieve. Over a medium high heat reduce the liquid until quite thick and unctuous.
Shred the warm goat with your hands. Add the mint, pomegranate seeds and a few tablespoons of the reduced cooking liquid. Season to taste.
Arrange on a plate and crumble over the Chevre. Serve while still warm.