Smoked Texas Cabrito with Soft Polenta and Natural Jus
For the Smoked Water Brine :
Insert into smoker, with wood chips smoldering, heat proof pan offset from flame with 1.5 gallons water. Cover and allow smoke to permeate the water for at least 2 hours, or until the water has taken on significant color, aroma, and flavor from the smoke. Strain through chinois and cool.
Combine 1 gallon of the Smoke Water with regular water and salt. Bring to a simmer in a large pot until the salt has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.
For the Cabrito:
Combine goat pieces with the Brine and brine for 12 to 14 hours. When brined, preheat a convection oven to 500ºF. Drain the cabrito and dry thoroughly. Season gently with sea salt on all sides. Meanwhile, start smoldering the wood chips in a smoker box. Ideally the temperature will be around 225ºF, but this step is to kiss the goat with flavor rather than cook it. In batches, smoke all pieces of goat for around 15 minutes, turning once if needed, until pieces are light brown in color and have a gentle smoke aroma.
Transfer meat to sheet trays, drizzle with a touch of olive oil to help browning and cook in the convection oven until a nice sear has formed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF.
Take two hotel pans. Add to each a half onion, half lemon, and 3 bay leaves, then add the goat pieces. Put the rib and neck sections in one, and the legs and backbone in the other. Cover each pan with foil and cook in the conventional oven for 1½ to 2 hours for the ribs and 2 to 2½ hours for the legs, or until meat easily comes off the bone. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve. Cut the rib section into individual ribs and with all other cuts, pull all the meat from the bones, taking care not to shred it too much. Portion all meat into roughly 7- to 8-ounce portions, with the ribs divided evenly.
For the Polenta:
Bring stock to a boil in a pot over a medium heat, and stir in polenta, whisking until the polenta becomes thick, about 5 minutes. Fold in butter and cheese and using a handheld stick blender, blend until polenta is completely free of lumps and extremely smooth. Season with salt and keep warm.
To Assemble and Serve:
For one family-style plate that feeds 2 to 4 people, warm up a cast iron pan over medium high heat and add the blended oil. Put 1 portion of Cabrito in the pan, spread out evenly and sear for around 3 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, turn down heat to a simmer and allow the meat to warm through. Meanwhile, scoop the Polenta onto a warm serving platter, spoon the Cabrito and the jus over the Polenta and garnish with rosemary and extra virgin olive oil.