Island Time and Goat Curry

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When you’re on island time, all of your worries become clouds blowing away on a distant horizon over brilliant blue seas. So it is on the island paradise of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Happiness flows in on a cool ocean breeze, and each day brings pleasure to the senses.

St. John is a feast for the eyes, but also one for the mouth and nose with its plentiful array of island foods. One of my favorites is Miss Lucy’s on the remote side of the island past Coral Bay. Miss Lucy’s serves up some great island fare with a lot of local ingredients and style. Diners are treated to live music and spectacular views to go with the tasty food. You may also be visited by the local chickens and goats as you feast on the breezy patio.

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Around the island, traffic is frequently slowed by local livestock: cows, goats, and chickens. It’s ok, there’s no rush. When you see goat on the menu, that is always a good choice. Goat is one of my favorite meats, and I’ve read that it is the most widely consumed red meat on the planet.

Goat meat is becoming more commonplace in our local markets. I was fortunate to meet a farmer who raises his own meat goats on a mountaintop pasture. Knowing the source of my meats and supporting local farmers are always good goals.

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Goat meat has a clean, grassy, lean flavor, so it goes well in many dishes. A favorite is this Caribbean style goat curry that will momentarily carry you away to the islands!

The spices of this dish may remind one of Indian cuisine, but there is a difference. As with many great cuisines, Indian cuisine has traveled the globe and evolved into an array of local specialties. Caribbean curry originated from the British settlers who brought their version of Indian curry to the islands. The local flavor comes from a variety of fresh, local ingredients. This makes for a very satisfying dish.

West Indies Goat Curry

4 lbs. goat meat bone-in (shoulder roast or hind leg roast), seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup ghee or clarified butter
2T coriander seed
1T black or brown mustard seed
2t turmeric
2t cumin
8 cloves garlic minced
2T ginger, finely minced
2 Scotch bonnet chilies, minced (optional)
3 carrots, diced
3 large onions, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 quart canned tomatoes with juice
1 can garbanzo beans
2/3 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup golden raisins

Heat the ghee in a large Dutch oven over medium flame and sear the seasoned goat meat to golden brown. Add the coriander, mustard, turmeric, and cumin. Stir to let the spices toast a bit, then add the garlic, ginger, chilies (if desired), carrot, onion, and celery. Cook and stir every now and then until the vegetables are soft and somewhat browned on the edges.

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Add the tomatoes and reduce heat to a simmer. The liquid should cover or come close to covering the meat. If not, add water or stock to cover the meat. Cover the pot and simmer for 1-2 hours until the meat comes away from the bones.

Add the beans, cashews, and raisins. Cover and simmer until the raisins plump, about 20 minutes.

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Remove the meat from the pot to a large bowl and allow it to cool enough to handle. Leave the lid off the pot and allow the liquid to reduce a little (shouldn’t take much).

When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, cut in bite sized pieces, and return to the pot. Simmer and serve over steamed rice. (I really like good quality brown rice.)

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Now sit back with a cool, fruity rum drink and soak in the sunset. May all the storms stay on the horizon!

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