For those who frequent the farmers’ market in Michigan, one becomes aware of the seasonality of produce: rhubarb, morels, and asparagus in Spring; cherries, squash, and tomatoes in Summer; apples, pumpkins, and parsnips in Autumn. What we may not realize is that there’s also a seasonality to meat. This is the first in a series of posts which will focus on the meat seasons. There’s a reason why the turkey is associated with Thanksgiving and the goose with Christmas. This week’s focus is goat, best harvested in the first part of Autumn.
Goat is at one and the same time the world’s most popular meat and arguably the most under-consumed meat in the United States (okay, maybe the most under-consumed meat is kangaroo which I’ve heard is very good from a friend of a friend who lived among the Aussies). Goat meat, bearing a close resemblance in flavor to that of lamb, has a highly desirable taste. And the reason why it begs to be eaten in the Fall has everything to do with the animal’s natural breeding cycle and milk production. Goats mate in the Fall, give birth in the Spring, and by the next Fall the male goats—which will not be used in milk production—are ripe for the harvest. Otherwise their flesh gets too tough and (some consider) too “gamey” as they age.
If you enjoy the taste of lamb and are looking to expand your horizons, I’d encourage you to just “Goat for It!”. One place to start is by contacting Hickory Knoll Farms out in Onondaga, MI. They have a presence at Grand Rapids’ Fulton Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings where they sell goat cheese. From time to time they’re able to provide call-ahead customers with goat meat. And while at the market picking up goat meat, don’t forget your parsnips and pumpkins.