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Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

Slow Cooking Supreme, this one. Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil takes very little time to prepare and a long time to make but the result… is mouthwatering. We picked this recipe when, at some point in life, we were roaming the mountains of Crete/Greece. A shepherd offered us this dish as lunch. Forgetting it proved impossible.

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 3 – 4 hrs
You will need: a stock pot


  • 1 to 2 kg (2 – 4 Lbs) of goat meat. Do prefer a leg and do ask the clerk to cut it up in cubes or chunks of at least 7 cm x 7 cm (@3 Inch x 3 inch).
  • hot water (see below)
  • 2-4 cups of very good quality olive oil (see below)
  • 3-4 pinches of good quality oregano
  • salt & pepper


  1. Salt the meat (don’t overdo it).
  2. Put the meat in a tall and narrow stock pot.
  3. Add enough water to cover the meat and then add the same amount of water you just used, on top of it.
  4. Bring it to a boil, then lower the fire to medium-high.
  5. After a few minutes, you will see a layer of foam forming on top of the water. Skim that off, and keep skimming until there’s little foam left. This part of the operation should be over within @ 10 to 20 minutes.
  6. Lower the fire to medium low.
  7. Add pepper.
  8. Add some salt – again: don’t overdo it: one or two pinches are enough.
  9. Add 3-4 pinches of dry oregano.
  10. Add the olive oil. The olive oil will sit on top of the water (olive oil and water don’t mix) and it’s thickness (on top of the water) should roughly be 2.5cm / 1 inch. The amount of olive oil you’ll need depends on the kind of pot you’re using: if it’s tall and narrow, then 2 – 3 cups should be enough. If the pot has a broad rim… you’ll need more olive oil. (Which is a waste, really).
  11. Let it cook for as long as it takes for the water to evaporate. For 2 kg / 4 lbs you’re looking at @4 hours of simmering.
  12. The food is ready when the meat is tender and… cooked.

Notes on Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil

  • Water to Olive Oil Ratio. Depending on the water-to-olive oil ratios you used it can be that the food is ready when the water has evaporated completely and only oil is left in the pot; OR when there’s still broth under the oil. Going one way or the other is a matter of preference: some people like their gravy oily and thick, others prefer it to be lighter and watery. It’s a matter of preference, really.
  • Do NOT cover the pot. You already have a “lid” on, and that “lid” is the layer of olive oil sitting on top of the water: it lets the hot air bubbles out and, under it, the meat is boiling and roasting in the same time. (Strange but…true.)
  • Oil of Oregano will not do it for you. It has to be very good quality, dry oregano.
  • Goat meat is “sinewy” by nature. (It is also very lean.) It HAS to be cooked in low fire, for hours – and there’s no shortcut to this.
  • Spices. This recipe doesn’t call for any other spices, really. But you can certainly try combinations of coriander, cardamom or whatever else suits your palate.
  • Sides. Boiled and broiled potatoes, or rice would do nicely. Should you need to balance the olive oil’s sweetness you could also steam or boil some greens like Swiss Chard or Kale or Spinach or something bitter like that.
  • And here’s a tip regarding how to prepare lamb and goat meat for cooking.

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