Za’atar Goat Chops. Goat is one of the world’s most widely consumed meats, but around these parts it’s a little hard to find, and I never see people actually buying it. Goat can be a little bit tough, but lends itself well to curries, stews and other braises. In chop form, it can be cooked quickly and has a nice depth of flavor beyond what you can get from beef – and stands up well to bold spices. Ground, it’s delicious as burgers or meatballs provided that you add some fat back into the mix – I love it with onion, parsley, and Turkish spices, and call them goat köfte. A few local restaurants have goat featured on their menu – Highland Kitchen has a spicy coconut curried goat stew, and I hear that Darbar has some legendary Pakistani goat dishes, but I don’t eat it nearly as often as I’d like.
This week there were two goat chops in my meat share, one for each of us. With frightening stories in the news from abroad, I’ve been thinking a lot about my family in Istanbul lately. It’s not that I’m particularly worried about their safety – Istanbul is quite a cosmopolitan city, and largely progressive compared to its neighbors – but just knowing that they are close to regions of instability makes me anxious. Za’atar isn’t particularly Turkish, but it’s a lovely Middle Eastern herbaceous spice mix that reminds me of family. There are many Za’atar recipes out there, some with thyme, oregano, or marjoram, but the version I’ve been using lately is a mix from Sofra, with two ingredients: Jordanian summer savory, and sesame seeds. To cook chops, I heat up my cast iron to medium-high with a little bit of oil, season the chops with salt, pepper, and a heavy pinch of za’atar, and put them in the pan to cook for six minutes on one side, without touching them. I then flip them over, cook them for six more minutes, and put them on a plate to rest before serving – long enough to prep a salad of dry farmed tomatoes, and feta. This is my usual method for chops of any kind if they are about an inch or so thick. If you can’t find goat chops, you could certainly prepare lamb chops this way, but go for the goat!