On the Menu: Cabrito
For more than twenty years, the central Texas town of Brady has staged the World Championship Barbeque Goat Cook-off on Labor Day weekend. Cabrito is a delicacy that has its ardent admirers—and many detractors. To those who have failed to see the merit in a crunchy yet tender piece of goat meat, the blame must be placed squarely on the way it’s been cooked and on the fact that the goat you got probably wasn’t a ten-to-eighteen-pound, suckling kid slaughtered at thirty to forty days of age. Older goat is often passed off as cabrito, but once they start browsing on grass, goats develop an unmistakable mutton flavor. They are also tough. The best time to get real cabrito is May through October. After October, you should be skeptical.
Cooking your own cabrito can be real simple—if you want to dig a hole in your backyard, as purists insist. All you need is a three-foot-deep pit with a mesquite or oak fire raging in it. Wrap a skinned cabrito in a gunnysack bound with wire and set the meat in the pit. Cover it with dirt to seal in the heat and let it cook all day. The cabrito will be smoke-seasoned and tender by nightfall. Apartment-dwellers might want to opt for the kitchen method of cooking cabrito: place half a cabrito in a roasting pan with salt, pepper, and two or three onions and baste with hot lard or shortening. Cook for an hour and 45 minutes in a 375-degree oven, turning every twenty minutes or so. Sure beats having to dig up the back yard.
Teresa L. Keese, executive vice-president of the Brady/McCulloch County Chamber of Commerce sent us this recipe after the most recent goat cook-off in Brady. “The winners from the 1996 contest were not willing to divulge their recipe secrets to us,” she writes, “but we were able to go back and get this previous winner’s recipe.” We are honored to have Barney McBee’s recipe for goat sauce, and hope that you enjoy it too.
Heat oil over medium-low in a large saucepan. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender but not brown. Whisk together ketchup and mustard in a large bowl and add to ingredients in saucepan. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Refrigerate unused sauce up to several weeks.
While this sauce is meant for goat, it has an earthy flavor (probably from the coffee) that goes nicely with beef or mutton.
In the big city, you can find cabrito at a few restaurants:
Austin, El Azteca, 2600 E. Seventh, 512-477-4701.
Dallas, El Ranchito Cafe and Club, 610 W. Jefferson, 214-946-4238.
Fort Worth, Loredo’s, 601 W. Northside Dr., 817-624-3916.
San Antonio, Johnny’s Mexican Restaurant, 1808 N. New Braunfels, 210-225-9015.
The story on goat is a little different in Houston, where curried goat is a standby in Jamaican and Caribbean eateries. Try Caribbean Cuisine, 7433 Bissonet, 713-774-7428 or Tropicana Grill, 6521 Bissonet, 713-771-3399.
Of course, the heart of goat country is Brady, and if you’re in the area you should stop in at the businesses listed below and pick up some goat meat to cook in your own kitchen:
Brady Cooperative Locker, 113 S. Elm, 915-597-2440.
Steve’s Meat Market, 1510 S. Bridge, 915-597-4971 (specializes in goat sausage and meat).
Mac’s Barbecue, 1903 S. Bridge, 915-597-2164 (specializes in barbecued cabrito).