Friday, August 27, 2010

The Goats of Rossotti Ranch

I really like goat, so a few weeks ago when I noted at the Sunday farmers market in San Rafael a new stand -- Rossotti Ranch -- featuring goat meat, I stopped by to say hello. Rossotti Ranch is just west of Petaluma and is owned and operated by Tony and Julie Rossotti who come from different two families which both have roots in agriculture and livestock raising in Marin - between them a total of nine generations.

I have had goat in a number of different forms over the years -- primarily in Mexican places (e.g. as birria or barbacoa), but also a memorable goat and lamb meatball dish (Polpettine di Capra e Agnello in Verde) we enjoyed at a dinner at La Ciccia featuring the cuisine of Abruzzo.

I had also begun to notice more articles in the food press about goat with some intriguing recipes, including:

~ NY Times: “How I Learned to Love Goat Meat
~ SF Chron: “Goat Breaks into Bay Area Menus

However, I had never tried to prepare goat myself, so I was interested to see what Rossotti Ranch had to offer.

Rossotti Ranch has a very good website with some tasty-looking recipes (in particular, their North African Barbecued Goat Shanks caught my eye). The site also includes some interesting information about the healthy qualities of goat compared to other meats:

One of the first things I learned while talking with Tony and Julie was that they would be participating in an upcoming cooking class sponsored by Marin Organic at Cavallo Point - an event featuring both goat from Rossotti Ranch, and vegetables from Dennis and Sandy Dierks’ Paradise Valley farm in Bolinas. Having had such good experiences on previous events at Cavallo Point, I went right home and signed up.

The class was last Tuesday night. Our good friends, Sandy and Connie Calhoun, who are good sports when it comes to exploring different cuisines, joined me.

Jayne Reichert, the Director of the Cooking School, opened the doors to the classroom for us at 6:00, and after a glass of prosecco and a chance to look over the ingredients and meet the Rossotti’s and the Dierks, we took our seats and the program got started.

The following was our menu for the evening:

~ Roasted Beet Salad with Creamy Garlic Chive Dressing
~ Goat Meatballs with Potato Gnocchi, Green Beans and Parsley Pesto
~ Goat Shoulder braised with Allspice and Oranges and served with Oven Roasted Kohlrabi, Sautéed Lacinato Kale and Over Roasted Tomatoes with Basil
~ Nectarine Tart with Cornmeal Crust

and here are a set of photos of the final dishes:

We prepared everything during the class, with the exception of the braised goat shoulder which Jayne had started earlier in the day given the time required to cook it.

Everything was great, although the dish that I thought was best and that I plan to try in the near future was the meatballs. Here is the recipe for that dish:

A similar recipe appeared in the New York Times article cited above.

Given that goat is so lean, both recipes recommend the addition of pork to provide a bit more fat content. The meatballs were formed using as delicate a touch as possible, then lightly browned in a skillet, and finally placed in a chicken stock in which a large Parmigiano-Reggiano rind had been simmering. The meatballs were then further simmered in the stock and served with it.

The meatballs were served with potato gnocchi (incidentally, for aspiring gnocchi makers, here is an excellent how-to video featuring Paola Bagnatori of the Museo ItaloAmericano) and green beans which was a very nice counterpoint. However, if I was to make the dish, I think I would substitute some Cannellini beans for the gnocchi (perhaps the excellent Tuscan White Beans with Sage and Garlic (Fagioli alla Salvia ed Aglio) dish we made at Cavallo Point with Judy Witts Francini) or just serve the meatballs with pasta - perhaps with a light tomato sauce or pesto Genovese.

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