Kid goat meat is a special treat – and not just at Easter.
It was always a Swiss tradition to celebrate Easter with an Easter kid goat. These days, this custom is no longer that well known, although it has become increasingly popular again in recent years. Tender, aromatic kid goat meat is a real delicacy – and not just at Easter. Many recipes are also suitable for other occasions such as BBQs or a cosy Sunday brunch.
Easter kid goat is a traditional Swiss dish. There are many reasons why the Swiss choose to eat kid goat at Easter. The main reason is the Christian festival of Easter, however aside from this, regional factors are key to why kid goat is served and not roast lamb like in many other countries.
Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent. After giving up certain foods and fasting from animal products for 40 days, practising Christians celebrate Easter with a sumptuous feast. Originally, a lamb was sacrificed as a symbol of Christ’s death and eaten on Easter Sunday – it is considered clean and is associated biblically with faith in God and purity.
The further the Christian faith spread, the more often other animals were also chosen as a sacrifice. As one of the oldest types of livestock, goats were among them. Young animals are preferred as they represent purity and innocence.
Goat grazing and farming has always played a major role in Switzerland and the natural mating and gestation period of goats ensures that there are always lots of kid goats at Easter. Furthermore, goats were and are kept primarily for producing milk and cheese products, so Easter was an opportune time of year for many of the poorer farmers to reduce their kid goat herd while the does continued to produce milk.
The Christian meaning of the Easter meal has since faded into the background for many families, however the preference for Easter kid goat still remains. Fresh kid goat meat is not just of symbolic value, it also makes for an incredibly tender roast.
When it comes to labelling goat meat, the determining factor is the age at which the animal is slaughtered. For greater clarity, they are divided into three different categories.
Kid goat: max. 4-month-old kid
Goatling: young goat aged between 4 months and 1 year
Goat: livestock older than 1 year
Fresh goat meat for a delicious roast or steak usually comes from a kid goat or goatling. The meat is tender and mild to aromatic in flavour, while being low in fat and high in protein. The meat of older goats has a stronger flavour and is more sinewy. It is mostly used in the production of speciality sausages and dried meat. The fresh meat is suitable for soups and braised dishes.
If you want to buy kid goat meat, you can choose from various cuts. Kid goat can be prepared in many different ways – from a spicy roast to a tender steak or ragout. First consider what you want to cook and then select the cut of meat that is best suited to that particular cooking method.
The saddle can be used for a rolled roast or steak, however it can also be cut up small and used in braised dishes. The meat at the front of the saddle produces succulent cutlets, while the meat at the back is perfect for tender fillets.
The hind legs are the most popular for festive dishes. The lean meat doesn’t contain much bone and can be roasted in the oven, used as steak or cooked on the BBQ.
The shoulder meat of kid goat is succulent and streaked with fat and connective tissue. It is high in gelatine and therefore makes tasty sauces. Kid goat shoulder can be used whole as a joint, diced for ragout and stews, or chopped up small for terrines and fillings.
Breast meat is high in fat and connective tissue and is therefore highly aromatic. It is suitable for cutlets or for goulash and ragout, and also tastes wonderful grilled.
Neck cuts are highly aromatic owing to their fat content and produce tasty cutlets, ragout and fillings.
The most important thing to note when storing fresh meat is that the cold chain must not be interrupted. Provided you ensure this is the case and don’t exceed the use-by date, you can keep fresh kid goat meat in the fridge for several days. Always place it in the coldest part of the fridge, directly above the vegetable drawer where the temperature should be around 2°C. Even better is the zero-degree section in modern fridges.
Note that the smaller the meat is cut up, the quicker it will spoil as there is significantly more surface area for bacteria to colonize. For this reason, meat cut up for ragout or goulash should be cooked no later than the second day. A whole saddle, on the other hand, can be kept for up to four days.
If you wish to keep your kid goat meat for longer, we recommend buying it vacuum-packed and storing it in the freezer. Fresh meat can be kept for up to one year in the freezer.
The delicious aroma of kid goat meat can be further enhanced with the right spices. Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, thyme or sage work well – ideally fresh from your own herb garden. A festive braised joint is particularly tasty and succulent stuffed with herbs, white bread and bacon. A light white wine sauce is the perfect accompaniment to a lean leg of kid goat.
There is also a wide selection of accompaniments. Kid goat is usually served with polenta, tagliatelle or a delicious risotto. However, small waxy potatoes also complement the tender kid goat meat beautifully. Depending on the season, you can also use fresh asparagus or tasty celeriac or fennel.
Prime season for kid goat is always Easter. In the weeks running up to this period, the meat is in high demand and accounts for almost half of all annual sales. As soon as Easter is over, demand falls again. This uneven distribution is a problem for goat farmers. To meet the high demand, kid goat meat even has to be imported, while the Swiss businesses have problems selling kid goat after Easter.
For this reason, Swiss goat meat producers have been trying for a few years now to make kid goat more popular after Easter, too. After all, it tastes just as good then, if not better! “Autumn kid goats” are young goats that have been put out to pasture over the summer months and are therefore also known as “mountain kid goats” or “Alpine kid goats”. They enjoy access to pasture and a varied diet for an entire summer. As a result, their meat is darker and more aromatic, while still tasting just as delicious as Easter kid goat.
Autumn kid goat is therefore a great choice from an ethical and sustainability perspective. These animals are kept humanely and are able to evolve outdoors and fulfil their role in the ecosystem of the mountain regions. Foodies may also be interested to know that the meat from these young goats is considered to be the best type of goat meat. So there’s nothing to stop you preparing a traditional Easter kid goat recipe for other special occasions throughout the year.
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