Truly offal news

Raw liver

I’m not a big organ meat fan. Other than fatty foie gras I could easily go the rest of my life without eating it again.

I tried to become a fan. When I was in chef school we learned how to prepare kidneys in classic recipes and I did my best to learn to like them. Same with heart and tripe, both which I’ve tried to cook myself and ordered at good restaurants to make sure I’d given the nasty bits the chance they deserve.

I can’t say all of my organ experiments have been negative. On the positive side, I can say that on occasion I’ve eaten fantastic calf’s liver, wonderful sweetbreads, and even tasty lamb brain but I don’t go out of my way to find or avoid any of them. (Except kidneys. They are still just a rubbery waste of time in my opinion and I would avoid them if necessary.) And, other nasty bits don’t bother me at all. I’ve had great pigs trotters and I really like properly made headcheese.

Despite my personal ambivalence, in cities such as San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal and London, eating offal and spare parts from common meat animals (beef, pork, chicken) is becoming quite chic. Tripe churros at Toronto’s Black Hoof; pig trotters in onion-mustard sauce at Montréal’s Au Peid du Cochon and flash-grilled beef tongue with yuzu salad and miso at San Francisco’s Yoshi are swooned over by many.

What’s your opinion on spare parts and offal: awful or wonderful?

PS: the picture above is a lamb’s liver.


21 Responses to Truly offal news

  1. Rosa says:

    I love offal! It is so versatile and tasty!



  2. I’m with you on this Dana. Offal is awful to me. I don’t even like foie gras all that much.

  3. Peter says:

    Dana, I’m all over the map on offal…some I like, some I don’t.

    I like sweetbreads, foie gras, liver pate, magheritsa (Greek Easter Soup), Kokoretsi (offal wrapped w/ intestine).

    I cannot down calf or chicken livers. They smell wonderful when cooking but as soon as it hit’s my tongue – gag.

  4. Barb says:

    My friend’s father (long since passed away) made the only headcheese I could ever manage and I used to enjoy calf and chicken livers but haven’t had either in years. I guess that puts me on the list for never having it again.

  5. I’ve never found offal that I could love. Of course it got to be prepared properly.

  6. Don says:

    Ever since I picked up Chef Fergus Henderson’s book, the Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, I have been fascinated with how the edible yield of pork, beef, or chicken can be increased, simply by learning how to cook and eat off cuts or offal. The tradition of charcuterie is a testament to eeking out good flavours and textures from what I like to call the “last mile” of an animal.

    While we don’t have Chef Chris Cosentino (@offalchris) or his Incanto in Ottawa, we have Chefs Steve Mitton (Murray Street Bistro) and Michael Moffatt (Play food and Wine). I often cook offal (tripe, liver, heart, kidney) at home (fav recipes: Mexican Menudo and Chinese stewed pig’s feet), but I also turn to the professionals for their creations. What they practice is almost alchemy.

    I adore a well-prepared terrine, but am now thinking that I need to try sweetbreads…

  7. Amy says:

    I like offal in general and I like working with offal. I’ve had my share of not-so-good nasty bits…And some good ones. To a certain extent I think it is an acquired taste as well as how it is cooked. The one thing I haven’t had a particular liking to was and has been chicken gizzards. Overall I think that they’re alright and I’d be open to having it.

  8. It’s not my thing. I’ll eat it without fuss if you hand it to me, but I won’t prepare it at home or order it off a menu.

    But I do break for chicken livers. Maybe it’s my Jewish heritage? I don’t even know if they qualify as offal… probably not.

  9. Jamie says:

    I went to work in Korea for 5 years, and I was surprised at how well they used almost every single part of every animal. Nothing is wasted there. Tripe, intestines both large and small, and all other internal organs of all animals are enjoyed as part of everyday food, along with pork knuckles and bone bouillon etc. I realized what meat wimps many of us are here in North America, self most definitely included. I made a point of trying everything once, but I admit I was sqeamish (especially with the dog meat). But to my great delight, one of the best things I ever tried there was in the countryside – raw beef liver! The cow is killed that morning, and the liver is cut into cubes. You pick it up with your chopstics and dip it into salt and sesame oil. It was better than the freshest sashimi. I couldn’t get enough!

  10. Diva says:

    I’m firmly in the offal is awful camp. Never touch it, never will. Period. There are no exceptions. LOL

  11. Shaslam says:

    I grew up eating chicken hearts and gizzards (in tomato sauce), beef tongue, beef liver (with onions and gravy!), sweetbreads and steak and kidney pie–all the good stuff! Cooking in french restaurants I learned to make great chicken liver pate. I draw the line at brains of anything and tripe–even though my mom is Italian they are popular at family events I can’t get them passed my lips. My Zio makes great head cheese, cured and dried meats–he says you can use everything in a pig except the squeak! My school friends got used to weird food at my house–even the jar of pickled pigs feet in the fridge.

  12. Shaslam says:

    oops, I think it a squeal–not a squeak!

  13. rachel says:

    I try, oh how I try, but I just can’t. I don’t like it at all. Funny how trendy it is becoming.

  14. Daniella says:

    My cousin calls me a “dirty Italian that will eat anything” so I think that sort of hints at my not-so-awful attitude towards Offal.

    I can’t say I have had it all but I love beef tongue, liver and onions, tripe in things like Menudo, and all the fun stuff you can do with chicken gizzards – oh my!

  15. Samuel Oluka says:

    Dear all,

    I have read a lot about eating various portions of meats….and the various cultural connotations to this. Can some one please inform me of the nutritional benefits of eating beef, pig or chicken trotters among others..?

    One idea I seem to have perceived is that trotters are rich in collagen. How digestible is collagen in the stomach? Besides, the amino acids in collagen are basically non-essential. How does this have consitute a nutritional benefit?

    Although I also perceive that trotters may be a good source of minerals-especially calcium, what other minerals may be derived from eating trotters?

    Please provide me with information pertaining to the nutritional benefits of eating animal trotters icluding more information on the benefits.


  16. PhEc Amy says:

    HI Samuel,
    While I cannot comment on the digestability of collagen, any food that contributes calories provides energy which would be considered a nutritional benefit. Of course, the more essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals etc.) that are provided, calorie by calorie, the more nutritionally dense an item is.

    The nutritional value of 1 simmered pigs trotter:
    340 calories
    23 g fat
    6 g saturated fat
    150 mg cholesterol
    105 mg sodium
    0 g carbohyrates
    31 g protein

    They also provide at least a source of vitamin B12, zinc, iron and selenium.

    Hope that info helps,

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