As some of you know, I’m on a mission to elevate the goat in many ways, including as a culinary staple and delight. With that in mind, I’ve wanted to try roasting a goat in a luau style pit for some time. As with many things, I’ve found if you commit to it publicly or with a contract, you’re more likely to actually follow through, so I announced that our farm’s fall potluck would also be a goat roast.
Most online information about pit roasting is about cooking a whole pig, which is somewhat easier thanks to their skin and fat layer helping keep the meat tender during the roast. Goat, on the other hand, is not only skinned before roasting, but is also much leaner. I found a couple of other articles on roasting cuts of various types of meat wrapped in everything from foil and wet newspaper, cabbage leaves, agave leaves, and of course the traditional luau banana leaves. I chose to work with foil and newspaper as we were fresh out of agave and banana leaves (ha ha) and I was concerned that cabbage would add a cruciferous flavor.
After an initial fire that didn’t roast the meat as long as needed, we had great success with the second batch (the same day). We’ll be trying it again and experimenting with a few other ideas, but this will get you started! PS. DON”T FORGET TO CHECK WITH FIRE OFFICIALS IF YOUR ROAST IS TO OCCUR DURING FIRE SEASON!
- The Goat: I harvested an 18 month old, 100 pound, Nigerian/Lamancha cross dairy wether, aptly named Luau, 4 days before the feast. I butchered the carcass into primal cuts and brined those cuts. The brine mixture was 2 gallons water, 2 cups sea salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup cider vinegar, 6 bay leaves, and 1/4 cup mixed pepper corns. The meat went into pots and was submerged in the brine using ziplock bags filled with water. Then all went into a large ice chest with ice jugs to keep it cold.
- The Pit: We dug a 24″ x 48″ x 24″ deep hole in our lawn. I lined the bottom with concrete pavers and then placed 8×16″ cement blocks around the edges. I offset the second row, creating a ridge for a grate to rest upon. We cut the grate from a strong fencing panel with 2×4″ openings. Before roasting, wet the earth around the pit significantly to help create steam.
- Preparing the Meat: Drain the brine and wrap each primal cut in a layer of foil, keep all of the seams at the top as you will be creating a container for the moisture. The steam must be able to build up and remain in the packet in order to keep the meat moist and tender. Wrap this packet in at least 8 layers of wet newspaper (keep track of where the top is on the inside foil layer). Then wrap this in another layer of foil, again, creating seams on top to hold in the moisture. (When the roast was over, we rinsed and recycled all of the foil and composed the newspaper)
- The Fire: Build a thick base of white hot coals over a couple of hours of burning. Just before adding the meat, add a couple of larger pieces of hardwood. Don’t allow them to start burning as you want to add the meat and cover it all up before flames are high.
- Adding the Meat: Place the grate on the edge over the coals and wood. Add the packets of meat, you can stack them.
- The Thermometer: I was SO GLAD that I invested in an affordable, remote thermometer and hope you will too! Place the probe in one of the heavier cuts of meat and run its fireproof cable up and out of the pit.
- The Cover: Place one to two layers of plywood over the pit. We had two small pieces cut that fit down onto the last layer of block, but were still beneath the top layer of soil. Cover that with large pieces of plywood that extend out over the surrounding ground. Cover that with a couple of pieces of roofing metal. (The plywood in the photo had an unpainted side that we put towards the meat)
- The Cook: It took our roast about 12-14 hours to get super tender. The temperature it reached was just under 200 F. The meat was technically done much sooner, at about 150 F, but hadn’t built up the steam and heat in the packets needed to make it so succulent that it just fell off the bones. So give it time! The photo at the top of the article was after the 14 hours of roasting, there was still whole pieces of wood in the pit, which was great, it meant we had kept the oxygen level super low, creating a slow, gentle heat.
When done, have some heavy duty oven mitts or welding gloves (thank you husband) and pile the packets into pans. You can up-wrap and shred it or let your guests do a bit of the work. We served ours with rolls, mustard, and optional BBQ sauce. I hear it was delicious!