“I could talk goats all day long,” laughs young entrepreneur Tiffany Drong.
The enthusiastic advocate, farmer, educator and all round chevon (goat meat) connoisseur is the owner of “Goats in Motion” an agricultural enterprise located in Troy, about half an hour west of Hamilton. (http://www.goatsinmotion.ca/ )
Drong is an accomplished country girl. She grew up on her uncle’s dairy farm, helping out with the chores and learning the mysteries, the joys and hardships and economics of the farming life. She also educated herself in business at Conestoga College where research for marketing courses convinced her of a growing market for goat meat. She now breeds, raises and rears 150 goats just for meat, and sells the product through an onsite farm store, as well as at local markets. (She learned butchery last spring and does all of her own cutting, wrapping and labeling.)
I discovered Tiffany and her business through one of our Go Cooking chefs, Ken LeFebour of the Dundas catering company Nellie James Gourmet to Go (http://nelliejames.com/ ). LeFebour who has a penchant for the unusual and is always attuned to new and interesting local products, noticed the “Goats in Motion” sign when driving through the countryside to another local meat vendor. Intrigued by the hormone free product, he stopped and bought half a goat just to see if his customers might want to try it.
“I’ve sold a few portions now, ” he says, noting that the meat is much like lamb. “I’ve braised the stewing meat in aromatic stock and roasted a leg. It’s beautiful meat, really. If anyone wants to try it out or have a party that includes goat meat, they should give me a call beforehand.”
Drong concurs that the meat is a red meat that is most like lamb, but the flavour is milder. It is also not as fatty as lamb, it is lower in cholesterol and higher in iron. It may surprise people to know that goat meat is the most widely consumed red meat in the world. Drong says that we don’t meet either our provincial or national demand right now either for lamb or goat meat which are almost all imported despite the fact that we have the resources to make our own.
“I supply specialty butcher shops in Dundas, ” Drong says, “and I can’t keep up with the demand. Caribbean restaurants want more than I can produce.”
I must admit that I have tried goat meat but it was many, many years ago and on a small and obscure Caribbean island. The meat was in a stew and, as I told Drong, it tasted fine, but there were a lot of little bones in it. She says that some recipes call for a lot of bones because the marrow makes the dish tasty. She sells boneless stew meat and also larger cuts.
I’m not sure why we don’t eat more goat meat in Canada. Somehow there’s a silly old myth that clings to the beast claiming that it eats tin cans. Or maybe it’s just the facial expression? Goats always have a sort of sly grin that make them appear as if they know a very dirty little secret.
It is odd that we happily consume so much goat cheese (chèvre), but don’t see a lot of goat meat locally on restaurant menus. Drong does not make cheese, but partners with a company near Peterborough called Crosswinds Farms that milks about 200 goats for cheese. Together they sell the cheese and the meat to farmers’ markets.
In any event, the meat is becoming more and more mainstream in America — both Michael Pollan and New York Times writer Mark Bittman have lauded the qualities of the meat and other writers have noted that raising the goats is relatively easy on the land, the animal eats what we don’t (hay, not tin!) and the meat is healthy and good for us. Besides, almost all of the meat on the animal is edible and — most importantly — it’s tasty. New York Magazine proclaimed eating goat as a “trendlet” last year.
Drong is determined to revamp the perspective of Canadians, although she admits that there are lots of challenges involved in being a youthful entrepreneur. The first problem is simply one of cost. She explains that a hundred acre farm would sell for over a million dollars, which is why she is renting pasture land now from her uncle. Moreover, it is very difficult to find good help — she would like to be able to sell at many more local markets but she can’t be in more than one place at one time. But the biggest hurdle is one that only time, talent and hard work will overcome:
“I’m young (24 years old) and female and I am not the usual face of farming. For instance, I got out-bidded on land, because the feeling was that I would not be able to compete. People just laughed and said, ‘Oh, Tiffany and her goats’.”
But she has lots of determination and optimism. She tells me that she has just returned from the Royal Winter Fair where she spent all day talking to breeders and bought a few “Boers” which are very prime South African goats. Her goal: to one day own 6000 goats.
I’m betting on Tiffany.
And, if you would like to try to cook some goat meat yourself, here is a recipe from her website. (Otherwise, I’d give Chef Ken at Nellie James Gourmet to Go a call.)
Canadian Meat Goat Association
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp curry paste (hot medium or mild)
1 tsp cinnamon (ground)
1 tsp cumin
3 cups water
1 lb chevon, cubed, fat trimmed
1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup light coconut milk
2 cups chopped tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups baby spinach
4 1/2 cut lychee nuts (Asian food section)
2 hot peppers (optional)
1) Marinate chevon overnight in the curry powder, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp of garlic and 2 tbsp vegetable oil.
2) Heat the next 2 tbsp oil in a large wok or skillet. Sauté the onion slowly until softened, add ginger and garlic, sauté for another 5 minutes.
3) Stir in curry paste, cinnamon and cumin. Cook until fragrant – approximately 1 minute.
4) Add chevon and marinade and 3 cups of water. Simmer until tender and the water is evaporated. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, hot pepper, if using, and bring to boil.
5) Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, spinach and lychee nuts.
6) Serve with pappadums, chutney, plain yogurt and pickle. Garnish with fresh mint and additional lemon if desired.
Only thing to notice is the marinating time — you must start this early! Otherwise a very tasty curry that serves four hungry people.