The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival (PBFWF) held a special meat-lovers event Monday with its first Southern Hospitality: Pig & The Goat feast. As the title suggests, it was an afternoon filled with pig, lamb -- and, yes, even goat.
The midday feast was held at Pistache French Bistro in downtown West Palm Beach where the restaurant's executive chef Julien Gremaud cooked alongside Bravo Top Chef Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard and 2011 James Beard "Best Chef: South" award recipient Stephen Stryjewski.
On the multi-course tasting menu: each chef's self-proclaimed specialty of pig, goat and lamb. Southern Hospitality kicked off with a vegetarian dish to prep the palate, Gremaud's Napoleon of baby heirloom tomatoes and zucchini, lgoat cheese mousse, pine nuts and eggplant gremolata (a chopped herb condiment typically made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley).
For meat, Gremaud chose lamb shank prepared with oven-dried tomatoes, garlic confit, sunchoke puree and a fig gastrique.
The goat and pig were left to Izard and Stryjewski, who are best known for preparing the respective meats at their critically acclaimed restaurants.
Keep reading for a few pointers on how to make goat belly, and the best hybrid breed of pig.
Stryjewski -- owner and executive chef of Cochon, French for "pig" -- is known for offering up stuffed pig feet and glazed pork cheek at his New Orleans restaurant, but chose to prepare a dish of seared pork shoulder simply braised and served with shaved onions, micro greens and field peas.
His favorite cut of the moment, pork shoulder is one of many cuts you'll find at Stryjewski's retail Louisiana restaurant, Cochon Butcher, where patrons can eat or buy only the best specialty pork from locally-raised pigs.
"Most of my pigs come from [the same farmer] I've been working with for a long time," Stryjewski told Clean Plate Charlie. "Right now, we're working on developing the perfect pig, a hybrid of several species, what I call a Berkshire Blue Butt."
What makes the Berkshire pigs so special? Their flavor, said Styjewski, which comes from a specific ratio of fat, muscle and protein strands to deliver superior taste and unparalleled texture. Pasture-raised, these pigs also live longer -- and grow larger -- than conventionally-raised pigs, and are fed an all-natural diet that gives them a "perfect intra-muscular fat distribution."
Visiting chef Izard, owner of Chicago's Girl & The Goat, chose to present her restaurant's specialty dish, goat belly served topped with a bourbon butter poached crab and served alongside fennel. A tougher, less fatty meat than pork, beef or duck, the goat presents a special challenge to cook "just right," she said, but offers a unique flavor when done well.
The dish is one of nearly a dozen to feature goat out of a seasonally rotating menu of up to 30 offerings Izard serves at her Chicago restaurant. The establishment -- named for her surname, Izard, a breed of French mountain goat -- receives as many as eight to 10 locally-raised goats each week.
But goat wasn't always on the menu. "When I named the restaurant, I said 'We should probably learn how to cook goat,'" Izard told Clean Plate Charlie. "Now, we just want to get it out there and help people to love it as much as we do."
Izard began by mastering the basics making goat sausage in-house, and braising goat shoulder. Today, the Girl & The Goat serves seared goat loin, goat carpaccio, goat shanks and legs -- and, of course -- goat belly.
The goat belly isn't an easy dish to make, however. "To make the confit, we have to save up the fat [from the meat], because it isn't as fatty as say, duck or pig," said Izard. "It's not something you can do the first time around."
The next time you're in Chicago, be sure to check out her latest venture, Little Goat, set to open this month. A combination of diner, deli, patisserie coffee shop, it was originally supposed to be a smaller version of Girl & The Goat, which is known for its fresh-baked breads. The new 7,500-square-foot space will now employ 200 people, and will be open 20 hours a day where you can order from a traditional diner menu offering over 70 dishes.
Last, Gremaud plated a braised lamb shank finished with oven-dried tomatoes, garlic confit, sunchoke (aka Jerusalem artichoke) puree and fig gastrique (a French-style sweet and sour sauce).
Our final question: will we be seeing these dishes on the special menu anytime soon? Yes. Goat belly was available to regular customers at Pistache after the event -- so keep an eye out for specialty dishes (and meats).
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