Curried Goat Burgers with Apples, Cucumber-Mint Yogurt and Nigella Seeds

Photo by Michael Piazza / Styled by Catrine Kelty

I tried ground goat at the urging of my CSA farmer, Kim Denney, of Hardwick’s Chestnut Farms. What a revelation! Goat is one of the world’s most widely consumed meats, and yet it’s relatively ignored here in the United States. It’s lower in saturated fat and calories than chicken and beef and higher in iron and protein. The flavor is somewhere between lamb and beef, but since it’s so low in fat, it’s a little tricky to cook in burger form. I added the apples and onions to keep the meat moist, and egg and breadcrumbs to hold it together, but the patties are still a challenge on the grill: Be sure to chill them as long as possible before cooking and be careful when flipping (if you’re worried, try using a grilling basket which should make flipping easier). The results are incredible: like a curry on a bun, but with the smokiness of the grill and the satisfaction of a sandwich. Do try to seek out the Sofra pita buns at the bakery or the Siena Farms stand at the Copley Market; they have the right structure to stand up to this messy burger. Otherwise, small store-bought naan bread will work in their place.

Makes 6 burgers

For the burgers:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 apple, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 pound ground goat meat
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon grated ginger
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons prepared chutney (Major Grey’s works well, but any chutney will do)
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup fine dry breadcrumbs
½ cup minced cilantro
pinch dried red chili flakes, or more if you like heat

For yogurt sauce and serving:
1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
1 cup Greek yogurt
zest and juice of ½ lemon kosher
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
nigella seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
6 Sofra pita breads (or store-bought naan), split
6 large Boston lettuce leaves, washed and well-dried

Heat a medium skillet over high heat and sauté the onion and apple until softened and lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool before adding to the ground goat, grated garlic, curry powder, cumin, ginger, chutney, egg, breadcrumbs, cilantro, and chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper and blend with your hands, being careful not to overwork the meat. Form into 6 patties and chill at least an hour and up to overnight.

When ready to cook, combine the diced cucumber, mint, yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and a dribble of olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Preheat a charcoal grill or cast iron skillet and grill the burgers, being very careful as you turn the meat—these are the most delicate burgers you’ll ever handle, so go slowly and let them form a crust before trying to flip! Cook about 3-5 minutes per side, until medium.

Grill or toast the split pitas and assemble with a goat burger, a dollop of cucumber-yogurt sauce, nigella seeds sprinkled on top (optional), and a leaf of Boston lettuce before topping with the remaining bun. It’s messy, but it’s worth it!

NOTE: Chestnut Farms will have ground goat at their farmers market stands this season (Natick, Arlington, Newton, and Lexington) as well as at their stall in the permanent Boston Public Market space.

This recipe appeared in the Summer 2015 issue.