The goat head cheese was just a first course at the annual JP Super Bowl party. The decision to make it, plus an overflowing freezer of random meats, led to our 2012 Super Bowl food theme: No Animal Left Behind. Every couple/team of attendees was responsible for a different animal, and we had goat, pork, venison, chicken, and lamb covered (with a nod to cow in the form of baked brie). And THAT theme was apparently the equivalent of putting out a “not welcome” mat for our vegetarian friends (sorry Taylor).
After missing too much of a few Super Bowls in a row due to cooking, my goal for this one was to cook and serve my dishes before the game. The head cheese was ready to serve out of the fridge, but my other planned item required a little bit more prep: cabrito sliders. For those who don’t spend their evenings groaning about how good the food looks on a few consecutive hours of food shows, cabrito is young goat meat.
There’s not a ton to do with ground goat, I’ve been trying to figure out a use for almost a year, but I’d heard that they make burgers with it in Texas, so that’s what I went with. Due to the similarity to the flavor of lamb, I wanted to add some flavors that would cut the richness.
First thought was to pickle some onions, something I’d wanted to learn how to do for a while. I got started a few hours before people arrived by throwing two sliced red onions into boiling water.
I blanched the onion for a minute, strained it, then put the slices back in the pot. A cup of apple cider vinegar, a spoonful of sugar, and just enough water to cover went back onto high heat.
Once it started boiling, I timed off a minute and poured the whole pot into a large mason jar.
Lid went on the jar and it headed into the fridge where I was instructed that the onions would crisp and brighten as they cooled. Big surprise, a recipe was correct and not subject to the same wild variances as my guesswork.
As game time approached and I was within 20 minutes of cooking my sliders, I pulled and rinsed a couple handfuls of cilantro leaves and a handful of mint leaves. Once finely chopped, they headed into a bowl with the ground goat meat, 8 cloves of roasted garlic, salt, pepper, and a little olive oil.
After a trademark Pete Ryan hands-on ground meat blending, including the requisite disgusted looks from party guests when they see me up to my wrists in their food, the slider meat was ready.
After tasting a quick test batch and getting a sense for the size that would be perfect for two bites, I had an idea of the sauce that would match. I wanted something with a Greek or Morrocan-type flavor that also replaced the need for cheese on a slider.
With that in mind I went with a non-fat Greek yogurt (since I am so health conscious) blended with paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a little lemon juice.
With my sauce and toppings made, it was time to throw a full round of sliders onto the griddle. Since I was making them thin and small, the griddle was over high heat with the plan to only cook for a couple minutes on each side.
The other secret weapon I had in my kitchen waiting for these were the old standbys, Martin’s Potato (Dinner) Rolls. They really never fail; everything you put in them looks and tastes twice as good. Plus, they fit Pete’s two-bite doctrine.
After about five minutes, the sliders were ready for construction.
Each slider got a small dollop of the yogurt sauce and a couple slices of the crunchy pickled red onions.
Close ’em up and serve.
The burgers were pretty dece in my opinion. The meat was a good mix of crisp and tender with the roasted garlic and herbs adding a lot of flavor. The sweet acidic crunch of the onion was exactly what I wanted; the flavor of dill pickles and raw onions in one flavorful compact package. I over-spiced the yogurt sauce and although it gave the cheese-like flavor I wanted, it made the slider “have a lot going on” as Trisha said. That Trisha shout-out is intended as a mea culpa for not telling her she was eating goat brains and eyes in the head cheese.
Now for the rest of the Iron Chef entries.
Not pictured: Chet’s venison sausage from his family’s game ranch outside of Austin, TX. I am positive I took a picture of these but I think I.A.P.n.S. has now added randomly deleting photos from the memory card to it’s repetoire. Delicious and spicy, I was psyched that there were leftovers that I could use in a pasta dish later in the week.
Not pictured: Julie’s vegetarian chocolate chip oatmeal cookies which gave anyone experiencing the meat sweats a break in cookie form.
Gonna give the 1st place ribbon to Chrissy for the creativity with everyone else tied for second since everyone was a winner in this competition. Overall, a solid theme for a party, would love to give it a shot again with a larger group and more animals. Always could handle a few more animals, we didn’t even cover beef, rabbit, turkey/duck/other fowl, or any fish or shellfish.
A few options for next week. We’re down in Naples right now where we discovered a solid butcher shop with lot’s of interesting cuts. Nothing beats surf and turf where the “turf” is lamb kidneys and alligator.