Cabrito Al Pastor, a Tasty Mexican Treat
Ever had cabrito al pastor, a.k.a. barbecued goat? Most people haven't, but it's well worth trying
Monday, March 10, 2014
Unless you're of Hispanic descent or have ever visited Brady, Texas (the home of the World Championship Barbeque Goat Cook-Off) you may not have even heard of cabrito al pastor, much less tasted it. And if you haven't tasted it, then you're really missing out!
Admittedly, goat's an unconventional grilling meat, so why go to the trouble? Well, besides being savory, when you really get down to it, it's part of our grilling heritage... even if we seem to have lost track of it.
Lest we forget, the Mexican/Spanish barbecuing tradition represents a parent tradition to the American style of grilling, so viva la cabrito!
While goats remain an important part of American animal husbandry, most ranchers raise them for their hair rather than their meat. There are several reasons for this, boiling down to the facts that a) we've gotten out of the mutton habit here in the States, and b) adult goat tends to have a strong flavor.
But there's no reason you can't add goat to the Grilling Trinity of barbecued pork, pig, and chicken. Either you can marinate adult meat to modify the flavor and tenderize it, or you can avoid the flavor issue altogether by grilling a young goat, uno cabrito.
You should be able to get one of the above at a Mexican meat market or goat farm. This will be easiest if you live in the Southwest.
Grilled Goat the Old-Fashioned Way
Traditionally, you should cook a cabrito in a hole in the ground, over mesquite wood coals (those, at least, should be pretty easy to find). Here are the basic ingredients:
One cabrito, about 12 pounds dressed
A wet burlap sack
Your favorite barbecue rub
Your favorite barbecue sauce
Chipotle sauce (optional)
Corn and flour tortillas
After seasoning the goat thoroughly, wrap it in the sack and bind it with wire. Place it carefully on top of the coals, fill the hole loosely with dirt, and let it cook all day. When it's ready, slice your cabrito thinly, top the meat with BBQ sauce, and eat with the salsa, tortillas, guac, or whatever your heart desires.
Alternate Cooking Methods
If you prefer not to dig a hole in the backyard, you can cook your goat on a spit one foot over mesquite coals in a BBQ pit, turning it every 15 minutes until it reaches 170º F throughout. Or, you can smoke it for about an hour per pound over pecan, oak, or fruit wood until the internal temperature is 180º F.
But beware... even though it's delightfully tasty no matter how you cook it, it's not genuine cabrito al pastor if you don't cook it in the ground.