Saturday, January 2, 2010
Women Who Stare At (and cook) Goats! Pt 1
T.S.Eliot said "April is the cruellest month". Around our house it's December. But I'd have to change cruellest to partyingest. Is that even a word?? My husbands' birthday is on the 29th of December, our anniversary is on the 9th, of course there is also Christmas Eve, Christmas, Chanukkah, and New Years Eve. All in the same month. Which is why I enter January totally on overload.
This year I decided to combine New Years Eve and Alans' birthday with a feast of goat.
The goal here was to kill two birds with one stone. That is, have one celebration for two events. Every other year we do it this way. Last year we went out with friends to the late seating at a very good restaurant here in Sonoma. It was a great meal but when we looked around and saw we were the last ones at table and our server brought us our coffee with her coat on at 11:30, we took the hint and everyone went back to our house to ring in the New Year. They don't call this town Slowcoma for nothing. This year we decided to stay in and cook.
The meal was built around my jonesing to get my mitts on the goat in my freezer and cook it in an Egyptian clay bram that I'd been given by Alan as a birthday gift.
Paula Wolfert author of Mediterranean Claypot Cooking really got me interested in doing my Indian food in clay, and this year I've accumulated quite a collection of pots, some I bought, some I had but had never really used, some were given me by Paula.
Coincidentally, this year saw the opening of Bram Cookware here in Sonoma that I've got a link to here my blog. They have a great website and anything can be ordered online. Alan gave me a large traditional Egyptian Bram so that I could do a Biryani in it.
I built my dinner around that dish.
Normally when I've cooked a Biryani, that's a feast in itself. Very few extras are needed. I usually just offer a chutney, a vegetable dish (cauliflower with ginger and cilantro) and chapattis. But this was going to be special so I was going to do more dishes, and since there were people who weren't used to Indian food and some who had just returned from India and like things hot, I felt I should offer a range of dishes from north to south. Which is what I did. I started cooking a couple of days before the event.
I pan roasted and hand ground my spices then added them to the other ingredients for marinating in my food processor.
Onions were thinly sliced in half rings and fried up with smokey black cardamom and bay leaves.
One third of the onions were set aside for a later topping. The onion oil and the black cardamom and bay leaves were set aside for later.
Meanwhile the Wolf was on the look out for any stray bits that might fall her way. She was out of luck.
The remaining fried onions were then blended with the spiced yogurt mixture.
And I then submerged my goat into the spicy goodness to get a much deserved rest.
Nighty night Goatie pie!
Once this part is done, ones time is ones own. The goat will not need you for quite a while as it is unlaxing in an aromatic blend of herbs and spices. Just leave it alone.
I had other dishes to prepare, but since this is a goat-centric post I'll stick with that.
Once the goat had thoroughly marinated, it was gently simmered in the marinade. When it was cooked through, I set it aside then cooked down the remaining marinade to a thick paste. All of that marinade managed to cook down to about 10 Tbs of paste.
Meanwhile I took 13 cups of water and 3 tsp of salt and when it came to a rolling boil I added in 2 cups of basmati rice. Once the water came to a boil again, I let the rice cook for 5 MINUTES ONLY then immediately drained it in a strainer. The reason for that is the rice is going to cook slowly in the clay pot on top of the goat mixture.
When the rice was drained, I poured it on top of the goat and marinade paste mixture in my clay pot.
I had pan roasted 2 tsp of saffron, crumbled it, then soaked it in 2 Tbs of warm milk. I drizzled this mixture on top of the rice, then placed my 4 black cardamom pods and 2 bay leaves on top of the rice and sealed the clay pot tightly with foil and then a heavy lid on top of that to make sure it was sealed thoroughly.
Traditionally the clay pots were sealed with a lid and a rim of dough around the edge making it air tight. This is Dum style cooking. I was advised that I might have trouble breaking the dough without damaging the clay, so I opted for the foil alternative.
I popped my clay bram into a pre-heated 300 degree oven to cook for an hour. Meanwhile, other dishes were finished and prepared.
While the Bram was cooking in the oven, I took the onion/cardamom oil I'd saved and fried 2 Tbs of sultana raisins and 2 Tbs of slivered blanched almonds.
Finally it was time for the goat to emerge from the clay pot!! I unsealed the bram
and unmolded the whole thing onto a platter.
I scattered the remaining fried onions, raisins and almonds across the top
and set it on the table.
Whew! Just writing that I feel as though I'd done it all over again. I'll be getting back to the rest of the feast but thought I should start with the piece de resistance. Oh, than there was cake too!