The new meat chefs can't get enough of

Springtime may be all about the fresh produce, but between our five-spice brisket for Passover and roast leg of lamb for Easter, we're definitely not neglecting our carnivorous sides these days. This month we've devoured a meaty Italian sub, gotten down with a fiery Thai beef stir-fry, and now we're turning our attention to a protein that's been quietly cropping up on restaurant menus all around the country: goat. This versatile ingredient transcends cultures and cuisines, and is showing up in everything from lasagna to curries, so get on board.

"Goat is a very common ingredient in Italian cuisine, especially in the south—Sicily and even Campagna. It would typically be made with red wine and tomatoes or white wine and stock, and both with herbs, always braised, and the whole animal will be used," Albert Di Meglio, chef of Barano in Brooklyn, tells us about growing up eating the protein. "Nothing better than your 80-year-old grandmother attacking a head of a goat like The Walking Dead!"

RELATED: Unofficial ranking of supermarket jarred tomato sauce

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Unofficial ranking of supermarket jarred tomato sauce
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Unofficial ranking of supermarket jarred tomato sauce
Our Top Picks
(1) Classico Traditional Sweet Basil, $4, 24 ounces

The runaway favorite of this taste test, Classico is slightly sweet, pleasantly herby and the perfect consistency to grab onto your pasta. Our editors described it as "lovely," saying it could pass for fresh sauce, with chunks of delicious tomato and basil throughout. When you're unable to make your own, Classico is surely the next best thing.

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Our Top Picks
(2) Barilla Traditional, $3.50, 24 ounces

Though not as universally beloved by our team, Barilla's Traditional sauce is a solid option for a weeknight dinner. It has a much stronger, zestier garlic taste than many of the others, and that certainly isn't a bad thing. With a smoother texture than Classico, editors found themselves liking it the more they tasted, saying, "It has character."

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Our Top Picks
(3) Newman's Own Marinara, $3.50, 24 ounces

This jarred option immediately evoked a familiarity and nostalgia for our taste testers. It's quite sweet, which some editors loved, and has a good amount of oregano flavor, as well as a meaty texture. This sauce takes third place, though, because it tastes more like pizza sauce than a good, fresh pasta sauce. 

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Runners Up
Bertolli Tomato and Basil, $3, 24 ounces

Our taste testers were significantly divided on this sauce, with some calling it their favorite of the bunch and others claiming it had a strange, floral herbiness. It's the least sweet of all the jars, making it the perfect purchase for those who like a dryer tomato sauce. Like Newman's, it also has a familiar taste and reminded some editors of more traditional sauces. All in all, a riskier option but tasty nonetheless.

Runners Up
Prego Traditional, $2, 14 ounces

Sugar lovers, this sauce is for you. The prevailing sweetness of Prego masks much of the other flavors present in the sauce, although some editors claimed to detect a hint of basil. Purchase this jar if you really love a sugary tomato sauce (and trust us: Some of us do).

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At his Brooklyn restaurant, Di Meglio makes a rich ragù flavored like a Negroni, with grapefruit zest and crushed juniper berries (he had us at Negroni), before serving it over fresh pappardelle (see the recipe). And he's not the only one celebrating this gamey protein. We chat with chefs all over the country who are highlighting goat on their menus, whether it's Italian, Indian, Vietnamese or American cuisine. Here are their tips for bringing goat into your kitchen.

Braise the Roof

"When in doubt, braise. We break down the whole animal into primal cuts and braise everything," Eric Johnson, chef of Stateside in Seattle, says. Johnson serves a Vietnamese-inspired dish inspired by a trip he made to Da Lat, Vietnam, braising goat in a fresh green curry paste with yogurt.

Braising is a sure way to end up with an evenly cooked and tender piece of meat, and you don't have to get fancy. "Salted water is all you need," Jon Sybert, chef of Tail Up Goat in Washington, D.C., explains. "From there, you can add it to ragùs, pull it for salads or throw it on a plancha to crisp it up."

While Sybert uses goat as the base for ragù in his goat lasagna, you can get creative with the flavor profiles when braising. "The signature goat flavor works and stands up especially well to spices and citrus, lots of citrus. Brightness and acidity balance the wonderful earthiness of goat so well," Johnson recommends.

You can find goat beautifully spiced in Indian cuisine, where it stands as the most commonly eaten red meat because it can be enjoyed by both Hindus (who don't eat cow) and Muslims (who don't eat pork). Anil Bathwal, chef of The Kati Roll Company in NYC, collaborated with his wife, Payal Saha, to develop a goat kati roll, or pulled goat wrapped in a rich flatbread, a classic from their home in the eastern part of India.

Grind with Me

In his recipe for goat ragù, Di Meglio uses ground goat, preferably from the leg, for a Bolognese-style sauce. The result is a rich sauce with more flavor than you would ever get with pork and beef. If you're looking for an easy introduction to the protein, using ground goat is it.

Try substituting ground goat in your next batch of chili or meatballs to add a touch of gaminess without too much fat. Stephanie Izard, chef of Chicago's Girl & the Goat, even collaborated with Shake Shack last year to run a goat chili cheeseburger, sticking it to the Curse of the Billy Goat in honor of the Cubs' World Series win.

Finishing up our pickled ramps! Until next year;) Goat loin and blackberry

A post shared by Stephanie Izard (@stephandthegoat) on

Roast Valuable Player

Once you get a little more comfortable with the meat, you can venture into roasting it. "Goat is pretty lean, so you need to treat it carefully if you're roasting it," Andrew Carmellini, chef of NoHo Hospitality Group, tells us. At Carmellini's latest restaurant, Leuca, which focuses on Southern Italian food, he serves goat in a fazzoletti pasta.

While you can roast the leg low and slow, once you find a good purveyor of goat, you can play around with different cuts. Izard has run goat loin on her menu, serving it with pickled ramps and blackberries. She recommends checking out your local farmers' market to find a good source of goat, making sure it's super fresh.

Raw and Order

We're going to end with the most unique way you can prepare goat: raw. In addition to goat chili and roast goat loin, Izard serves goat carpaccio on her menu at Girl & the Goat. "You don't see raw goat very often. It's a light dish where guests get to enjoy the pure taste of goat," she explains.

Take it from these world-class chefs: These kids are not child's play.

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