“Tasting this dish, which was cooked in Salvatore’s treasured wood-fired oven in his home, you understand the unique flavour that inspires him to light a fire and cook simple recipes like this. It tastes incredible – simple and perfect and unlike anything you could cook in a conventional oven. Salvatore says: ‘This dish is unique to Calabria, with its combination of exotic spice and local ingredients. The addition of cinnamon is a gift from the Saracen invasions of the region many centuries ago and adds a warmth and intriguing depth to the otherwise simple dish. The mountainous terrain of Calabria meant that beef was rarely consumed but goat was readily available and eggplant is a staple of many dishes in the region, abundant in the summer months. If you cannot get hold of goat, young lamb makes a good substitute.’” Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Fire
- 2 kg (4 lb 6 oz) goat pieces (on the bone)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- olive oil
- 1 large red onion, halved and sliced
- 2 large eggplants (aubergines), roughly diced
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) tinned Italian tomatoes or homemade passata
- small bunch of basil, leaves picked
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place the goat in a deep baking tray and pour the lemon juice over the top. Add the cinnamon and a generous amount of salt and rub in well. Drizzle with oil and combine well.
Place in a hot wood-fired oven – 220°C (430°F) – until the meat is browned, about 20 minutes.
Add the onion, eggplant and tomato to the tray, sprinkle a little more salt over the goat and return to the oven at 200°C (390°F) for another 40–50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve hot sprinkled with basil.
Recipe from Food Safari Fire by Maeve O'Meara (Hardie Grant, hbk, $55). Photography by Toufic Charabati.