Recipe: Pan Simmered Capretto (Baby Goat) with Tomatoes, Onion, Parsley, and Herbs


I get the same reaction when I wax philosophically about the virtues of Capretto or baby goat; namely, that's gross!  I often explain how, as far as I can remember, eating baby goat was a staple of our Italian American Easter and Christmas dinners.  Nonna Rosa's Capretto recipe included simply roasting a whole baby goat (which was butchered at home or by the local Italian butcher) with canned tomato pieces, coarsely chopped onion, a bit of homemade red wine, garlic, dried oregano, pepper and kosher salt.  My mother's recipe included the same ingredients but differed in two ways:  1. the dish was pan simmered on the stove top and 2. the Capretto parts were quickly seared to develop a deep flavor and crust. Both recipes, however, had a secret ingredient which included marinating the Capretto pieces for several hours prior to cooking (marinating the goat in simple red wine yielded a tastier end product).

When it came to selecting the appropriate Capretto for a holiday meal or Sunday lunch, both ladies would often prosecute the local butcher as to the source and freshness of the Capretto.  Moreover, they would have the butcher swear on their dead relatives that the Capretto was, in fact, baby goat and not adult goat which is tougher and gamier in flavor (you see once goats begin grazing on grass, they develop a mutton-like flavor which, unless you're accustomed to such flavor, can be a little odd).  The idea of prosecuting the local butcher stemmed from the fact that both ladies were used to baby goat that were raised on their respective farms, fighting with the butcher in the US somehow dulled the pain of having to buy ingredients (including meat) from someone else (an unheard of concept in rural Calabria).   

On the nutritional side, goat is very low in fat and cholesterol (in fact, goat is 40-60 percent lower in saturated far than chicken and beef, respectively).   Capretto flavor components are rich and complex (sort of like, beef, short rib) and I encourage folks to experiment and try preparing a dish of roasted or pan simmered Capretto!

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