Well, the baby lamb and stuffed tripe of a few weeks back were a trial run for last night’s dinner which I cooked for four chefs, an eminent food writer and a restaurant owner. Except that this time, the beautiful baby was a goat, all tender and pink like a baby should be with the sweetest and teeniest testicles I have ever seen.
It also had the pluck still inside which was incredibly fresh with the most beautiful colours and after I cut it out, I asked my lovely Nuria to hold it so that I could take a picture. I nearly gave it to Lee, the chef at St John’s, this morning but he forgot to pick it up and I had to throw it away sadly. Such a waste given how fresh it was. And it is not every day that you can get goat pluck in London.
Never mind. The baby was big, nearly 8 kilograms and initially I worried about not being able to fit it into the large shallow baking dish that I had bought for it at Dentons, my old local when I lived in Clapham, but with a little bending it worked. I prepared the same marinade as for the lamb but decided to also use a tamarind basting sauce with rose water, saffron and Emirati spices. The baby took two and a half hours to cook in a 200º C oven.
I started the dinner with sautéed lamb brains served with a salad d’haricots verts and sautéed testicles with a parsley, onion and sumac salad. Talking about testicles, I have now become quite adept at peeling them and it is amazing how many blood veins there are in the skin. As you pull the skin off, some of the thin veins pull out from inside the testicles.
In between the brains, testicles and baby goat, I served lovely little parcels of stuffed tripe with the broth that I had spiked with garlic and lemon juice to freshen up the taste of the tripe. That was the only problem of the dinner. Last time I prepared tripe, it took me forever to clean it. This time, Andy had brought me clean tripe which was great until I realised that it had been treated in such a way as to be almost pre-cooked which is not a good thing if you want to stuff it — it tore easily. Still, I managed and the good thing is that two stomachs came with the honeycomb part.
I served the goat with biryani rice and I nearly had a disaster. Either I or Nuria must have inadvertently touched the knob for the induction burner turning it up to medium from very low which burned the bottom of the rice slightly. Lucky I smelled the burning otherwise it would not have been a good moment. As they were eating the goat, one of them asked why they were not eating the head saying that the best part was the brains inside which is true except that Andy had not cracked it open. Then one chef had a lot of fun trying to crack it open with a small cleaver while I worried about bits of head and brains flying all over my kitchen. I stopped him before the counter became too splattered with brains, bits of bones and cheeks and I scooped the brain from the cavity he’d created to give them all a taste. I also tried to give one of them an eye but I had no takers. Chefs, squeamish? Allons donc!
To round the dinner off, I had made rose water and mastic ice cream, one plain and the other churned with slivered pistachios. They were all happy and they went home leaving behind a rather depleted baby. I am now plotting to roast another baby goat. Perhaps for Christmas!