Goat is produced from animals less than a year old. Since the quality of goat varies
according to the age of the animal, it is advisable to buy goat that has been USDA
USDA Prime: Prime grade goat is very high in tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. It
has moderate marbling, which enhances both flavor and juiciness. Prime chops and
roasts are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling and roasting).
USDA Choice: Choice grade goat has slightly less marbling than Prime, but still is
of very high quality. Choice chops and roasts also are very tender, juicy, and flavorful
and suited to dry-heat cooking.
Lower grades of goat and mutton (USDA Good, Utility, and Cull) are seldom marked
with the grade if sold at retail. Most cuts of USDA Prime and Choice goat - including
shoulder cuts - are tender and can be oven roasted, broiled, or pan broiled. A leg
of goat graded Choice or Prime, for example, is delectable when
oven roasted. The less tender cuts - the breast, riblets, neck, and shank - can be
braised slowly to make excellent (and tender) goat dishes. Meat from older sheep
is called yearling mutton or mutton and, if it is graded, these words will be stamped
on the meat along with the shield-shaped grade mark. Grades for yearling mutton and
mutton are the same as for goat, except that mutton does not qualify for the Prime
grade and the Cull grade applies only to mutton.
The best way to identify goat cuts is with the goat carcass chart shown above. These
terms are generally recognized throughout the meat industry.
Goat Cooking Tips
There are two general methods used for cooking goat: dry heat and moist heat. In
dry heat cooking (grilling, rotisserie, broiling, roasting, sautéing, pan-frying),
the goat meat is in direct contact with a hot surface or close to the heat source.
High heat is used to quickly brown the surface and any additional cooking is at a
somewhat lower temperature. This method works best for tender goat cuts, although
tougher goat cuts, which have been tenderized (with a marinade), can be cooked successfully
with dry heat.
With moist heat methods (braising and stewing), the goat meat is cooked in contact
with hot liquid, usually at a low temperature. The hot liquid tenderizes the goat
meat and it also acts as a flavoring source. Moist heat methods are usually used
on tougher cuts, such as goat shoulder or goat shank because these generally are
more flavorful that the popular cuts and simply require a slower cooking method.
However moist heat methods may also be used, with care, for tender goat cuts, such
as cuts from the goat leg.
Grilling and Broiling Goat
Grilling is a dry heat method that is the most popular cooking technique for goat.
The grilling cooking method cooks goat with a high heat source, either directly,
indirectly, or with a combination of both. It is essentially the same technique as
broiling except that when grilling, the food is cooked above the heat source and
with broiling; the food is cooked below the heat source. Because of its natural tenderness,
goat is ideal for grilling.
Meat for grilling or broiling goat should be tender, fairly lean, and not too thick,
since it needs to cook quickly. Goat cuts that are perfect choices for grilling or
broiling goat include Butterflied leg of goat, goat chops, goat steaks, goat tenderloin,
goat ribs, goat kebabs, ground goat patties, bone-in leg of goat shoulder, and rack
of goat and goat loin roast. Other goat legs to be grilled are often Butterflied,
to provide a more uniform thickness. A Butterflied leg is a great grill idea for
When grilling or broiling, thinner cuts of goat can be closer to the heat source
than thicker goat cuts because the thicker goat cut will require more time to cook.
Goat Steaks and Goat Chops need about 5-6 minutes on each side per inch of thickness.
Grill goat at least 4" from moderate heat. If a thicker cut of goat is too close
to the heat source, the surface will char before the interior is cooked to the proper
degree of doneness. When grilling or boiling, cook goat burgers until medium doneness.
In either grilling or broiling, goat meat should be turned when it's half-done, using
tongs to avoid puncturing the meat. Brush goat shanks with barbecue sauce and wrap
in foil to grill. Marinate goat in the refrigerator. Marinades should be used only
once and discarded.
Roasting is a dry heat method that may use a small amount of fat or oil as a baste.
The goat meat is cooked in an oven or on a rotating spit over a fire, gas flame or
electric grill bars. Some goat meat cuts suit high temperature roasting while others
are better roasted at low temperatures. Leg of goat is best roasted at low to moderate
temperatures. This results in less shrinkage and better serving yields.
Goat chops and frenched rack of goat are better rare-roasted at higher temperatures,
or first seared then roasted. Slow roast: low temperature, under 325°F (but no less
than 212°F) Moderate roasting temperature, 350°F to 375°F Fast roast: high temperature,
400°F or over Sear then roast: brush lean surfaces with oil. Brown goat meat all
over in a hot, dry pan then transfer to moderate oven, 350°F, to complete cooking
If possible, take goat meat from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Sear
or brown rack of goat and goat chops first. Pre-searing a roasting goat cut in a
hot pan improves colour and flavour, particularly when using small, very lean goat
cuts that need only short cooking. Roast on a goat rack. When practical, place goat
on a rack to roast. This allows even heat circulation and browning. Netting and trussing.
Netting or twine may be used to hold plain or filled leg of goat cuts in an even
shape for cooking, portioning and carving. Roasting goat at moderate heat maximizes
juiciness and minimizes shrinkage. Goat leg roasts are often cooked this way.
Roasting goat at high heat for the entire cooking time maximizes the brown crusty
surface, but this method shouldn't be used on large pieces of goat because the surface
will dry out and may burn before the interior is done. Resting after roasting. After
cooking, before carving or serving goat, allow goat meat to rest, approximately five
minutes for every pound of meat. For example: 15 minutes for a 3 pound leg of goat
roast. Resting enables temperature to even out, the meat fibres to relax and re-absorb
some of the juices. The relaxed goat meat becomes more tender and easier to carve
with less loss of juices. An alternative method for roasting goat is to begin with
a temperature of 425ºF - 450ºF for an initial 10 - 15 minutes to brown the goat meat
and then continue cooking at 325ºF to the desired doneness.
To prevent lean goat cuts from drying out while cooking, the goat meat may be rubbed
with oil prior to roasting and/or basted with pan juices during roasting. Utilize
a meat thermometer to make sure a goat roast has reached a particular stage of doneness.
Insert the meat thermometer into the meatiest part of the goat, not into fat or against
Although the fat keeps the goat meat moist and tender during the roasting process,
it can be trimmed before serving because it is not very flavorful and is actually
quite unpleasant after it has cooled. Tougher goat cuts from the goat shoulder should
be braised or roasted.
Rotisserie is a dry heat method that is a long slow process, which allows the fat
in the goat meat to melt slowly slow cooking process. Cuts of goat that have a basic
cylindrical shape and a fairly even distribution of weight are suitable for cooking
on a rotisserie. Good choices include leg of goat, rolled goat shoulder, and whole
For rotisserie cooking, choose only compact, cylindrical goat roasts for best results.
Sautéing is a dry heat method cooking thin cuts of goat in a small quantity of hot
fat in an uncovered pan. Sautéing differs from frying in that less fat is used. It
is actually the same process as searing except that sautéing completely cooks the
goat meat and searing is simply a means to brown the goat meat so that the cooking
process can be completed with another method (usually when cooking thicker goat cuts).
Sautéing is a simple and quick cooking method for small goat cuts in a pan containing
seasoning, and a small amount of oil, fat or butter.
Always preheat your pan. Keep goat medium rare for the most tender moist cut. Goat
for sautéing should be tender and not more than an inch thick. When sautéing goat,
it is important that the meat surface is dry so that when it is placed into the pan,
it browns rather than steams. When sautéing goat, the pan should not be crowded;
cook in small batches if necessary. Goat chops and goat liver are good choices for
Pan-frying is similar to sautéing with a few exceptions: more oil is used; the cuts
of goat do not have to be thin; and the cooking process requires more time than sautéing.
Pan-frying is a perfect method for cooking small, tender goat such as goat chops,
ground goat patties, and goat steaks.
The goal of pan-frying is to produce goat meat that has a brown, crispy surface with
tender, juicy, and flavorful goat meat inside. A large, well-seasoned, cast-iron
skillet works well or a heavy nonstick pan may be used.
The skillet used for pan-frying should have a heavy bottom so that heat will be conducted
more easily. Make sure the pan is of adequate size so that there is plenty of room
for the goat meat to brown.
Following the same basic steps as sautéing, the skillet should be preheated over
medium-high heat. Oil is added to the heated pan in a quantity great enough to well
coat the pan (less oil is used when sautéing).
Like sautéing, high heat is used to sear the goat meat to create a flavorful browned
crust. The goat meat should be patted with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Unlike sautéing, the goat can be turned more than once (after the goat meat is seared)
because the pieces are larger and require a longer cooking time. Tongs or spatulas
are the best instruments to use. Goat blade, arm, or loin goat chops up to an inch
thick are good choices for panfrying.
Braising and stewing goat involve the slow cooking of meat in a liquid. This cooking
method tenderizes and softens tough goat cuts and allows for rich and subtle blending
of the goat meat flavors with those of the liquid and seasonings. The main differences
between braising and stewing goat are:The size of the goat meat used: Braising requires
the use of whole, market ready goat cuts while the stewing process requires that
small pieces of goat meat be used.
The quantity of liquid: Braising requires that the level of the liquid be halfway
up the side of the goat meat while stewing requires the pieces of goat meat to be
totally immersed in the liquid.
Braising is a moist cooking method where goat cuts are browned and involve the slow
cooking of a goat meat in liquid. The technique for braising ready cuts of goat is
also known as pot roasting. Braising tenderizes and softens firm or tough goat cuts
and allows for rich and subtle blending of the meat flavors with those of the liquid
and seasonings. Braising is the perfect cooking method for tougher cuts of goat such
as neck slices, goat shoulder cuts, goat riblets, goat shanks, goat flanks, goat
breasts and a wide variety of goat dishes.
Braising is the preferred method for cooking tougher cuts of goat. Goat cuts that
are braised are always cooked until well done because moist heat cooking methods
permeate the goat meat with hot liquid and high temperatures, creating tender and
flavorful meat. However, braised goat dishes can be overcooked in spite of the moist
heat cooking method.
Tender cuts from the goat loin and goat rib should always be reserved for dry heat
Stewing Goat is a moist cooking method where dishes are often prepared with tougher
cuts of goat that have been cut in small pieces. Also, stewing is a technique where
small meat pieces are cooked gently in liquid to completely cover the meat and vegetables,
if desired. There are many variations of goat stew including recipes that are basically
the same as beef stew except that goat is used instead of beef.
Other types of goat stew include a variety of goat dishes native to the Mediterranean
and Middle East. Many of the same goat cuts that are suitable for braising are ideal
as goat stew meat. Stewing tenderizes the goat meat and allows the flavors of the
ingredients to blend. When stewing, cuts from the goat shoulder and goat flank are
often used as well as other meat from the goat.
Seasonings Suggestions for Goat
Suggest easy marinades for goat such as Italian salad dressing. Goat seasoning favorites
include: garlic, oregano, basil, mint, thyme, rosemary, cumin. Lemon pepper and seasoned
salt are especially easy seasonings for grilled goat.
Insert quartered garlic cloves in goat roasts before cooking. Soak favorite herbs
or hickory chips in water and place on coals while grilling goat. Glaze goat with
fruit preserves the last 30 minutes of grilling or roasting. Goat works well with
oriental sauces including sweet and sour.