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February 2015 sees the advent of the Chinese New Year, and on the 19th of this month we’ll be ringing in the Year of the Goat – an animal that, according to the Chinese Zodiac, symbolises creativity, dependability, calmness, and a fondness for being part of a group but not dominating the pack.

These characteristics apply to the goat in the culinary world too, as the goat’s most favoured produce, cheese, is much like the animal itself: mellow, adaptable and reliable, and it works well as part of a dish without overpowering the flavours.

Types and characteristics of goat’s cheese

Goat’s cheese, or chèvre, is actually a broad term used to refer to a wide range of cheeses made from goat’s milk. From Bûcheron and Bleu de Chèvre to Valençay and Chabichou du Poitou, there are so many more varieties of goat’s cheese than we’re all used to seeing in our local supermarkets, but they all share similar characteristics – a creamy texture; a slightly salty, mildly tangy and earthy flavour; and a distinctive aroma that becomes stronger as the cheese ages and ripens.

The fat content of goat’s cheese is slightly different in each variety, but generally it has only about 5g of fat per 1oz serving, plus it’s very rich in calcium. This has made goat’s cheese a favourite with the diet and health food world, so add some chèvre to your menu, and you’ll please cheese lovers and calorie counters alike.

Inspiring ways to use goat’s cheese

The fresh, light and tart flavours of goat’s cheese make it a favourite addition to summer salads, particularly when paired with strong tastes like beetroot and red onion. Firm varieties of goat’s cheese can also be grilled, or breaded and baked with aubergine and courgettes for a warm salad that can become a menu mainstay all year-round.

Another delicious goat’s cheese appetiser is to bake chèvre over sliced tomatoes and onions, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Present the dish to your guests in a dish straight from the oven to really boost the ‘wow’ factor – take a look at our Oven Dishes Buyer’s Guide to find the perfect kitchenware.

For main course, there are yet more possibilities for incorporating goat’s cheese recipes into your menu: caramelised onion and goat’s cheese makes a delectable topping for beef and vegetarian burgers alike; it’s a delicious addition to pies, savoury tarts and quiches; it balances out the acidic tang of tomatoes in a pasta dish; it transforms a trusty macaroni and cheese into luxurious cuisine; and when melted into a herby sauce, it’s irresistible drizzled over a juicy steak. Do we have your attention yet?

And of course, like all cheeses ever created, goat’s cheese is just as enjoyable as a topping for a good chunk of bread. Add a couple of goat’s cheese varieties to your cheeseboard selection, and offer citrusy wine pairings such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis and Pinot Grigio to enhance your guest’s experience.

Beyond goat’s cheese: milk and meat

Of course, to make goat’s cheese, you must obtain goat’s milk – which in itself has grown tremendously in popularity as an alternative to cow’s milk. For years people with lactose intolerance have chosen goat’s milk as it doesn’t give them the same digestive issues, but since more has become known about the other health benefits of goat’s milk, including how it’s easier to digest since the fat molecules are smaller than in cow’s milk, yet more people have been making the switch.

If you serve a lot of coffee or tea in your restaurant or café, it may be worth considering offering goat’s milk as an optional upgrade. However goat’s milk also lends itself to dairy-laden desserts such as ice cream and rice pudding, thanks to its light and sweet flavour.

Last but not least, we can’t forget about the third goat product – meat. Goat meat sometimes appears on restaurant menus as ‘chevon’ or ‘cabrito’, but while it’s been enjoyed across the world for centuries, diners in the UK haven’t entirely warmed to goat meat just yet. Adding goat meat to your menu would certainly get your diners talking, but you may wish to play it relatively safe with a goat meat burger, curry or tagine. Just be careful not to cook goat meat on too high a temperature without moisture, as it’s prone to drying out and becoming tough very quickly.


Comments

Lockhart Catering on 9 February 2015 10:30 AM

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