Pomegranate Molasses Smoked Goat Tacos Recipe

"In the 90s I grew up eating those crispy supermarket taco shells filled with packet seasoned minced beef, shredded iceberg lettuce and guacamole and salsa from jars. Nothing wrong with those... but these are not your Mum’s Tuesday night quick dinner tacos, they are a love letter to the Californian style of food truck tacos served by Mexican American chefs across the west coast.

They are the perfect marriage between traditional Mexican cooking and American BBQ flavours.

Goat is a meat we should be eating way more of, and not just in curries. It’s often just seen as a by-product of the cheese industry, but I love the deep flavour that is similar to lamb and its slightly gamey nature lends itself so well to smoke and slow cooking.

Traditionally in all smoked BBQ meat recipes you season the meat with sugar as well as salt and pepper, and I’ve accented that flavour here with the pomegranate molasses. It also adds a fruity sour note which pairs so well with the rich goat meat.

In Mexico a caramel sauce made with goats milk and flavoured with cinnamon called cajeta is common. It is similar to Dulce de Leche and I’ve used that here mixed with a classic Kansas City style BBQ sauce recipe to make a sweet and tangy sauce that will be your new favourite BBQ sauce.

It's served with pink pickled onions."

Ingredients for smoked goat tacos

For the pickled onions

For Dulce de Leche BBQ sauce

How to make smoked goat tacos

  1. SEASON THE MEAT. Put the shoulder onto your chopping board and trim off any sinews or tough skin, leave almost all the fat on, this will help keep the goat moist during cooking. Place the goat shoulder into a large roasting tin or tray that is big enough to easily accommodate it.

  2. Season all over the meat liberally with the salt, coating every surface. Leave the meat to sit for 3-4 minutes or until you can see the surface start to swear and become moist and beaded with liquid. This helps stick your flavour to the meat and create a nice seasoning layer.

  3. Drizzle the goat all over with pomegranate molasses and massage it all over the surface, be generous it creates a lovely flavour and crust during the smoke.

  4. Mix the sugar, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin and chilli powder and season the goat all over, making sure to season all parts and be generous. You could do this 12-24 hours before if you want, and pop it in the fridge. But it’s not essential.

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 The Smoke

  1. Fire up your smoker. Get the coals going and once they have all lit and have become white add a few pieces of your wood of choice. The more wood you add the stronger the smoke flavour, 2 hand-sized chunks is good for a quick smoke like this one. Add hot water to the water pan (never cold as this lowers the temp inside and slows the whole process down). Put the lid on the smoker but leave the vents open. let the fire die down as if you were going to BBQ burgers or a steak. When your temp has settled to around 140C you’re ready to add the meat.

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 The Cook

  1. Lay the shoulder on the smoker racks, meaty side up, and close the lid. Set the vents to ¾ closed and leave for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the temp. If it shoots over 140C, close the vents more on the bottom, and open the lid briefly. If it drops below 110C rake your coals and add some more (or more wood) to bring back the heat.

  2. After 30 minutes, mist the meat with water. Repeat this process twice more until the goat has cooked for 2-2.5 hours. This should be enough smoke flavour. The meat should be looking juicy and browning up well.

  3. Remove the goat and wrap it tightly in pink butcher paper. Place back on the grill and cook until the goat reaches 93-95C. About another two hours. Remove and allow to rest still wrapped up for at least 30 minutes.

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 The Extras

  1. To make the Dulce de Leche BBQ sauce, combine the whole glorious jar of caramel with equal parts of your Kansas City BBQ sauce. Or use a pre-made BBQ sauce if you prefer.

  2. To pickle the onions, add the spiced, water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to the boil stirring to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Once boiling take off the heat and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to infuse. Add the sliced red onions to a bowl and strain over the hot vinegar liquid. Set aside at room temp to cool.

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  1. Layer up your warmed tortilla, shredded smoky goat and a dollop of Dulce de Leche BBQ sauce. Top with pink pickled onions and enjoy.

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