The authentic Caribbean curry goat is, of course, made with goat meat. You can get goat in the UK but it's hard to track down. Mutton or at least older autumn lamb, makes a very acceptable alternative. Use cheaper stewing cuts. I like a mixture of shoulder meat, scrag end and neck chops, and I leave the chops and scrag end on the bone. Every Caribbean cook has their own version of this dish and the spice combinations vary wildly. You can buy Jamaican-blend curry powder or, more satisfyingly, you can make up a batch of your own, as described below.
1. To prepare the curry blend, dry-roast the first 5 spices by tossing them for a couple of minutes in a hot, dry frying pan, then pound in a pestle and mortar or grind in a coffee or spice grinder. Mix with the ginger and turmeric.
2. Cut the mutton into good-sized chunks (I prefer 2-3cm thick chunky slices to even cubes; think in terms of 3-4 pieces per person), trimming off only the really excessive fat.
3. In a large bowl (big enough to take the meat), combine 2 level tbsp of the freshly ground spice mix with the tomatoes, garlic, onions and chillies. Strip the thyme leaves off their stalks, bruise with a knife blade and add to the bowl. Finely chop the roots and stalks of the coriander (set aside the leaves for adding to the curry at the end) and add them, too. Add the HP sauce if you like.
4. Add the meat to the marinade, rubbing the marinade in well with your fingers. You should spend a bit of time over this, working the spices into the meat and enjoying the smell that rises from the bowl. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
5. Remove the meat from the seasoning, knocking off any loose bits of onion or tomato (these will be fried separately later). In a large pan, fry the meat in the butter until it is nicely browned. You'll need to do this in at least 2 batches.
6. Transfer to a large casserole (in the Caribbean they'd use a cast iron Dutch pot). Then fry the seasoning that you've just taken the meat out of - everything that's left in the bowl - until the onions are softened. Add to the meat in the pot.
7. Deglaze the pan with a little water and add these juices, along with enough extra water just to cover the meat. Add a scant teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil, then turn it down to the gentlest possible simmer. Transfer to a very low oven (about 120°c/Gas Mark ½), if you like, or cook on the hob, until the meat is very tender.
8. It will need at least 2, more like 3, hours. Serve sprinkled with the chopped coriander leaves, accompanied by plain boiled rice and fried plantains, plus mango chutney or other Jamaican pickles.
© River Cottage
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