Here’s my in-between season/end of Winter dish for this year: a goat shoulder rubbed with wild herbs, braised until tender, then served with it’s broth and a few different winter vegetables, finished with the first nettle tips of the year. I discussed the reason I like to make things like this at the end of Winter here in a previous post, take a look if you for a quick discussion of the theme and idea.
The idea here, is that the recipe is an expression of the end of Winter and Beginning of Spring in the Midwest, a time when there aren’t really any fresh green vegetables, except the first few young shoots of growth. Nettles are the first thing I usually notice, so they’re what I used, along with a blend of dried and storage vegetables: carrots, tiny shallots, burdock root, dried wild beans. Lastly, there’s the classic partner with lamb or goat: turnips, which inevitably take over the flavor of the broth, no matter what else is in it.
The key in something like this using a variety of vegetables with different cooking times is knowing when to add them to the pot so they all are done around the same time.
Hard root vegetables like rutabaga and burdock root take a lot longer to cook that roots like turnips, carrots, parsnips and baby onions tend to fall somewhere in the middle, while young greens like the nettle tops here need to be put in at the very last minute.
Stewed Goat Shoulder with Winter Vegetables and Stinging Nettle Tops
- 1 gallon capacity sautoir or braising pan
- 1 goat or lamb shoulder about 2.5-3 lbs, bone-in
- 1 medium sized carrot ~3 ounces peeled and cut into 1 inch oblique
- 2 burdock roots ~4-6 ounces peeled and cut into 1/2 inch coins
- 2 small golden turnips ~ 4 ounces, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup dried white beans soaked overnight in the refrigerator
- Young nettle tops or tender leaves a few good handfuls ~ 2 ounces, washed and dried
- About 20 small shallots or onions ~ 6 ounces trimmed and peeled
- 8-10 cups of meat stock vegetable broth, or water, just enough to cover the shoulder in it's pot
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt to taste
- Marinade/Broth Seasonings use your imagination here
- 2 tablespoons crushed dried ramp leaves
- 2 tablespoons crushed dried bergamot leaves
- 2 teaspoons toasted black peppercorns lighlty crushed
- 2 tablespoons dried wild peppermint
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic lightly crushed
- The night beforehand, Soak the beans in water to cover by 3 times their volume and refrigerate.
- Season the shoulder with salt and all of the marinade seasonings and refrigerate, turning it over ever few hours in it's liquid.
- The next day, remove the shoulder from the fridge and put in and the marinade snugly into a braising pot, then add stock or water just until it barely covers the shoulder, bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, turn down the heat to low, skim any scum occasionally that rises, and cook until tender, but not falling apart, about 2..5 hours.
- Remove the shoulder to cool, covered.
- Add the vegetables to the pot in the order of how long they'll take to cook: in my case I added the burdock first, then the carrots, then the onions and turnips. It's important that the vegetables don't become mushy. At the last moment before serving, I stir in the nettle tops to wilt so they stay green and keep their texture.
- Meanwhile, remove the meat from the cooled shoulder and cut into entree sized pieces, about 3-4 ounces each.
- Double check the seasoning of the broth, adjust with salt as needed, then when all the vegetables are done, put the pieces of shoulder meat back into the pot to warm up, add the nettles, stir every thing to make sure it's heated through, double check the seasoning for salt one last time, then serve immediately, removing some of the vegetables to each of 4 pre-heated entree bowls, then topping each serving with a nice hunk of meat or two and drizzled with some of the hickory nut oil, or other oil, if using. Horseradish would also be great on top in some form.