Updated: Mar 5
Slow cooking is an art form, especially when it comes to whole animals or goat. This recipe highlights this art form in this delicious dish.
Cabrito translates to kid goat and can be found in one form or the other across South America and Spain. This dish is mostly prepared on festive occasions, weddings, births or religious ceremonies and is an event that brings together the family. This Mexican version is probably the most well-known and can be made using a number of techniques, spit-roasted, pit-roasted or slow-braised. I opted for the last as I cannot build an open flame for 6 hours in my living room!
The technique involves marinating the meat overnight, or even for 2, and then slowly braising the meat in the oven for 3-4 hours, mine took 3 hours, till the meat is butter soft and has completely fallen off the bone. The tender meat is loaded with flavours, the mild sweet anchos with gentle heat and spices. It was super amazing. I served it with green rice. Tomatillos are impossible to find in India, so I substituted a combination of acidic green (very green, tomatoes and lime juice). The deeply flavoured meat was balanced by the brightly flavoured rice, a combination that is perfect. I definitely ate too much for dinner!!
I have been fortunate enough to have had dinner at Chez Panisse when David Tanis headed the restaurant. This restaurant with David and a cadre of chefs defined California farm-to-table cuisine, as elegant, light and popping with flavours and fresh ingredients. I have his cookbooks, follow his blogs and Instapage, you should too. I love this cookbook, and definitely need to cook more from it!
For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.
For the cabrito:
2-3 ancho chilies
3 cups water
4-5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon pepper
1 lb goat leg, cut into 2-3 pieces
1 lb goat shoulder, cut into 2-3 pieces
1 small bay leaf
1/2-inch cinnamon stick
A pinch of ground cloves
1 tablespoon oregano, Mexican preferred
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 onions, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Chicken stock or water
For the green rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cups long-grain rice, like basmati
1 bunch of cilantro leaves and tender stems
3 garlic cloves
10 tomatillos or 3 very green tomatoes, diced
2 green chillies, diced
Salt, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
2 cups water or chicken or vegetable broth
Scallions, to garnish
Cilantro, minced to garnish
Scallions, finely sliced
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Grated cheese, queso blanco or cheddar
To make the cabrito:
Heat the ancho chillies on a pan over medium heat till warm, fragrant and slightly puffed up. Add to hot water and soak for 30 minutes till soft. Remove from the water and remove stems and seeds.
Add the anchos, strained soaking liquid, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper to a small blender and purée to a smooth paste.
Score the meat with a sharp knife. rub the marinade into the meat and marinate overnight, you can marinate at room temperature for 3 hours but the overnight marination helps flavor and tenderize the meat.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In an oven-safe dish mix the marinated meat, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, oregano, cumin, onions, and salt. Add just enough stock/water to cover the meat. Bake for 2 1/2-3 hours turning the meat every 45 minutes or so. If the liquids are drying out, add a touch of stock/water. When finished the meat should be extremely soft and falling off the bone. Cool.
Remove the meat from the bones and shred well. Remove the whole spices and add the remaining sauce to the meat and mix in well. You are looking for sloppy wet meat, if it is too wet, heat for a little while in a pan till you have the consistency you want.
To make the green rice:
Add the cilantro, garlic, tomatillos or tomatoes, chillies, and salt to a small blender with a few tablespoons broth or water. Purée to a smooth paste. Set aside.
In a large pot, sauté the onions on medium heat with the oil till lightly golden. Add the rice and continue to sauté till the rice looks white and is no longer raw. Add the green purée and cook till the liquids are mostly evaporated.
Add the stock, 2 cups, and cook either on the stove or in a rice cooker. When cooked fluff the rice and add the lime juice to suit your palate. Set aside.
To serve, heat the meat and serve with the green rice scattered with the scallions and cilantro, and accompaniments, scallions, lime wedges, pickled jalapeños, iceberg lettuce, tacos, tortillas and cheese.