The newest offering at the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers market comes to us from Jimenez Family Farm in the Santa Ynez Valley. It's fresh goat meat. And before its recent arrival, I had very little experience with this relatively uncommon lean protein. I was first introduced to it a few years ago on a trip through Jamaica, where a seemingly endless number of goats were found grazing along the roadside. A stop for lunch on day one made me instantly aware of the major role goat meat plays in the local cuisine, with items such as goat head soup and curried or jerk-seasoned goat dishes dominating menus. Over the course of my trip, I sampled a wide array of cuts, which made me appreciate the meat. While goat head soup has yet to be made at my house (although it was quite delicious), I have had the opportunity to experience many other dishes, from stews and roasts to grilled steaks and legs. For some, preparing goat can be a little tricky since it has very little fat content. If overcooked, it can be quite tough, so, if grilling, just give it a couple of minutes per side at high heat. To ensure tender meat, I recommend creating savory stews or roasts, or braising, where the meat has time to break down since it's slow cooked at lower temperatures. Adding spices and something acidic, like lemon juice or tomatoes, also tenderizes the meat.

While goat meat is probably most similar to lamb, it has a distinct flavor all its own. For this week's Fix, I chose to use the shoulder of the goat, which is perfect for slow cooking. Don't hesitate to ask farmer Marcie Jimenez at the market for her favorite recipe ideas!

Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association. His column appears every Thursday. E-mail him at food@newspress.com.

SAVORY GOAT

Juice from 1 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, minced

1 jalapeņo, pasilla or serrano chili, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, red and/or green, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 pound goat shoulder cut, or use the stew meat (available from Jimenez Family Farm at the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers market)

1 14-1/2-ounce can stewed tomatoes

1/2 pound okra, diced into small rounds (available from Jimenez Family Farm at the Wednesday Solvang, Thursday Goleta, Friday Montecito, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real markets)

1 -12-ounce can chicken or veggie stock

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

In a mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, onion, hot pepper, bell pepper, garlic and parsley. Pour over goat meat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. In a pot, add stewed tomatoes, okra, stock and curry powder. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Add all ingredients from marinade, including vegetables. Cook covered for about 1 hour. Check to see if the goat is fork tender. Cook longer if needed to reach desired texture. Add cream if a richer consistency is preferred and simmer at very low heat for about 5 minutes. Let sit about 4-5 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh seasonal veggies, such as sauteed zucchini or broccoli.

Yield: 4 servings