Jamaican Bobsled Curry
As all eyes turn to the Sochi Winter Games in a few weeks, we will be rooting for the Jamaican bobsledders in their triumphant return to the world stage. These ultimate underdogs from the island nation known to produce the world’s finest sprinters – and a damn fine goat curry – started without a training budget or a sled in 1988 and inspired “Cool Runnings”, Hollywood’s fictionalized feel-good movie a few years later. They exemplify the best of all sporting traditions, competing with heart and passion against long odds of gaining the medal stand. After crashing in their debut at Calgary and walking across the finish line, they finished 14th in 1994 – at least they were ahead of the US of A.
We too are facing a steep hill as we attempt to build a niche and increase market demand for “chevon” – grass-fed goat – among local retail buyers. The most consumed red meat in the world, popular in Caribbean and Mediterranean cultures, is healthy, tasty and part of a sustainable food future. Yet for some reason it struggles for acceptance here. Our goats are neutered year-old males or retired milking does. The flavor is like lamb but better – not gamy at all. This is no stinky old Billy Goat.
We will be making a Jamaican “mutton” curry in the style of our brothers to the south every week for our Farmers Market tasting as a gesture of solidarity with team captain Winston Watts and his countrymen. At 46, the skipper is eight years older than anyone who has ever qualified for Olympic bobsled and still holds the world record for the fastest two-man start ever. He has come out of a 12-year retirement to lead “The Hottest Thing on Ice”. Our first batch of Jamaican curry was extremely popular yesterday and several people asked for the recipe. It is based on bone-in chunks of New England Grass Fed chevon (goat) shoulder (stew chunk) and a curry powder that features allspice, seared in a light vegetable oil then braised with onion, garlic, habenero peppers, ginger, coconut milk, thyme, lime (my addition), scallions, salt and pepper.
The how-to: Get a tin of good Jamaican curry powder. Spice Gypsy makes up batches special for us (contains coriander, allspice, cumin, mustard, anise, fenugreek, turmeric). Let chevon chunks come to room temperature salted in a bowl and tossed with 2 T of the curry powder. Heat 1/4 C vegetable oil in a thick-bottomed cast iron pot with 2 more T curry powder until fragrant and rippling. Brown the meat thoroughly on all sides in batches if necessary being careful not to crowd the pot (so steam can escape and give you a good sear). Set meat aside and sweat 2 chopped onions and 2 chopped habanero peppers (with seeds removed – careful when handling – keep warm soapy water handy). I used dried peppers and rehydrated them simmering for half an hour before chopping. Sprinkle with salt and cook for 5 minutes until onions look clear and take on color. Add 1 head of garlic (smashed, peeled and chopped) and a 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced. Saute 1-2 minutes. Return meat to the pot with all juices, a can of coconut milk, 4 cans of water, 2 T curry powder & 2 T dried thyme. The recipe called for a 15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (I forgot to add it). I also added a whole lime juiced that this recipe did not call for (but others did). Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 3-4 hours (adding water if you need to keep meat covered) till falling apart tender. Remove meat from pot to cool. Pick clean, chop /shred and return to pot without bones. Recipe calls for potatoes at this point, I omitted. Taste for salt. I made 3 cups Basmati rice and mixed in for Farmers Market tasting. Traditional serving would be curry ladled over rice and small red beans.
We hope you enjoy it as much as my friend Greg (shown) who spent many years doing construction work all through the islands and gave us the nod of approval, saying it was “so legit”……