Bill Niman — yes that Niman, formerly of Niman Ranch — is hoping that America will develop a taste for goat. And not just any goat; he’s raising goats according to his exacting standards that made Niman Ranch renowned for its humane treatment of animals and the quality of meat. He’s left Niman Ranch after some disagreements with the current management, but he’s started raising animals — cattle, turkeys and pigs in addition to the goats — on his own all over again.
But he hopes goat will be the cornerstone of his comeback. That’s in part because he has more of them around, and because he sees a wide-open marketfor pristine, pasture-raised goat meat. The guy is, after all, a businessman.
“I don’t need to get 10 percent of the market anymore,” he said. “I just want to be the best.”
Chefs on both coasts are fast discovering his goat meat, although it is still available only in limited amounts, under the name BN Ranch.
In June, Mr. Niman stopped by Eccolo in Berkeley with a piece of shoulder, a loin, a leg and a rack of ribs. The chef and owner, Christopher Lee, now breaks down one or two of the 30-pound goat carcasses a week.
“It was succulent,” Mr. Lee said. “It was mild. It was just perfect.”
Like other chefs who have begun to cook with goat, Mr. Lee predicts a bright future for the meat.
“We’ve all cooked every part of the lamb a million times and we all know about grass-fed beef and aging beef,” he said. “The goat is the next thing.”
The article also mentions one fact that might get this diet-crazy nation on board with goat meat: it has half the fat of chicken.
So far, it seems only Bay Area chefs are really experimenting with the local naturally raised goat, which is often cooked just like lamb. Mexico DF in San Francisco makes some fancy cabrito tacos with grass-fed goat, and it’s not on the menu at Kokkari Estiatorio, but if you’re lucky you’ll show up on a day when the chef is spit-roasting an entire goat.