Saturday, August 5, 2017

Chèvre and Chevreau or Cabri – Goat’s Cheese and a Young Goat, a Kid, on Your French Menu.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
White goats.
While the word chèvre does mean an adult goat, on French mainland menus, it will be indicating a goat’s milk cheese. Chevreau or Cabri will be on menu listings for a dish prepared with the meat of a kid, a young goat. (Cabri is the word for goat in Occitan and it will be on menus in the South of France).

The young goats, the kids.

France’s important and very large goat’s cheese industry provides the young males for restaurant menus as they will not grow up to provide milk.  As soon as the young males are weaned, they will be allowed to graze freely until they go to market. Young goats, the kids, from 2 to 6 months old taste much like lamb and will often be prepared with recipes for lamb. In the south of France Easter celebrations often include roast kid.
A nanny goat, a chèvre, with two kids, chevreaux.
Chevreaux is the plural of chevreau.

France has many different goat breeds.  These breeds are known to the cognoscenti not only for the cheeses they produce but also for the quality of their meat.  Many menu listings will clearly give the origin of the goat on the menu and for those who know their goat breeds that may well be the reason they choose a particular dish.

Goats grazing on the leaves in Argan trees in Morroco,
The nuts from these rare trees are the source of Argan oil.
Chevreau and Cabri on French menus:

Gigot de Chevreau Rôti Accompagné d'un Fricassé de Légumes Printanier Roast leg of kid accompanied by stewed spring vegetables.
Les Fins Ris de Chevreau Poêlés Minute aux Champignons Forestiers - Sauce Crémée Aux Morilles – The delicate sweetbreads of a kid very lightly fried and served with wild mushrooms and a creamy wild morel mushroom sauce.
This breed of goats are called Chevre des Fossés
They will be seen along France's Channel coast.
Chevreau Fermier de l'Aveyron, Aligot ou Légumes – A farm raised kid from the department of Aveyron in the old region of the Midi-Pyrénées now part of the super region of Occitanie. Here it is served with a very tasty, traditional, mashed potato and cheese dish called Aligot accompanied by vegetables.

Colombo de Cabri -  A goat's meat stew made with a blend of spices associated with Tamil Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. This is a dish seen in France’s Caribbean departments and then a mature goat, slowly cooked, may be in the pot. The Colombo spice group includes coriander, turmeric, cumin, mustard, cloves, fenugreek, and pepper. The word cabri, meaning goat,  comes from Occitan, the language of d’Oc.   D’Oc or Occitan is the language that lost out in the search for a single language to unite France. Despite losing to out to modern French there are, still today, millions of French citizens who speak Occitan or understand one of its dialects, which includes Provencal, alongside modern French. Occitan was brought to the islands by settlers, probably from Provence. Apart from bringing their language the settlers would have also brought goats as Provence is famous for its many excellent goats’ cheeses and recipes

Three different cuts.

Fricassée De Chevreau Sauce Mijotée Serpolet Et Garniture De Légumes – A stew of kid served with a simmering sauce of wild thyme and garnished with vegetables. The original fricassées were only made with chicken; however, that was originally; today fricassées are often made with veal, other poultry, shellfish, vegetables and occasionally lamb, kid or rabbit.  As a fricassée was traditionally made with white meats, the same dish may also be called a ragoût blanc, a white stew. 
Chevreau Rôti Au Miel D'acacia et au Romarin A kid roasted with honey and rosemary.
Ragoût De Cabri Au Vin – A traditional French stew from Provence here made with a kid and added wine; it will be a dry white wine.  A ragoût holds a prominent place in French cuisine and will be on many menus. Ragoûts may be made with beef, game, lamb, kid, fish, poultry or vegetables.  The recipes call for relatively uniform pieces and require slow cooking in stock, with or without wine.   A ragoût blanc, a white ragout, will be veal, kid, lamb, rabbit, poultry, fish, shellfish or pork.  A ragoût blanc will include cream or crème fraîche as well as white wine and a light stock in the recipe. A fricassee and a blanquette are other names for a ragoût blanc.

The meat of adult male and female goats.   

Many will have heard that adult goat meat is associated with a strong gamey taste along with a stringy texture. When that is the case it is due to the age of the goat followed by the method of cooking.  In mainland France, mature goat meat will be in tasty salami type sausages and slowly cooked dishes such as daubes and other stews where the meat is well marinated before it is cooked. The correct French name for a mature female goat, a she goat, is a chèvre; a mature male goat, a he goat, is a bouc.

France has three closely related wild goat families; the two best-known groups live high in the Alps and the Pyrenees.  The family members in the Alps are called the chamois and those in the Pyrenees are called the izard or isard; none of these goats have ever been farmed. Fully grown the Alpine Chamois reaches 80cms high and have 20 cm horns; they are all legally hunted in a short season. These wild goats do occasionally make the menus of restaurants that specialize in wild game, gibier in French.

The Chamois
The French overseas departments.
France’s overseas departments include the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Antillaise, the French Caribbean, the department of Guyane (just above Brazil in South America) and the Indian Ocean Islands of Mayotte and Réunion. These departments are as much part of France as Paris, but the centerpiece of their cuisine is French Creole with many differences between the French Antillaise cuisine from the Caribbean and that of the Indian Ocean islands. Other, different, French Creole cuisines come from independent countries such as Haiti that were once ruled by France.

Goat meat is low fat.
For those concerned with the amount of fat in their diet goat meat is the leanest red meat available and has fewer calories and cholesterol than chicken or turkey. 

France is famous for its magnificent goat’s milk cheeses.

There are over one hundred registered French goat's milk cheeses, and close to 20 have an AOP for their consistent quality, taste, and method of production. Among the very best of France’s goat’s cheeses are Banon AOP, Charolaise AOP,  Pelardon des Cévennes AOP,  Rocamadour AOP,  Sainte-Maure de Touraine AOP,  and Valençay AOP. They are all very different, and goat’s milk also has less lactose than cow’s milk. For more about buying cheese in France and taking French cheese home click here.

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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.

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