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Offal: Sourcing, Cooking, Eating


Nick
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Okay, what the hell is a bung?

Actually, there's a pork bung thread somewhere in history.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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On a cold morning I cannot imagine anything better than the hot bowl of tripe, pig skin and daikon I had at a Chinese restaurant today. To me "trippa a la Fiorentina" is one of the glories of Italian cuisiine (when they don't cook it to a mush). I bought a baby goat on Arthur Avenue a couple of days ago. The kidneys were delicious and the head will go into a soup. In the Balkans they chop the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs of a young lamb, season and sauté with onions, wrap in caul fat and roast. It is then served with sour cream. I would classify all these dishes at the higher end of gastronomic achievements . :raz:

Ruth Friedman

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On a cold morning I cannot imagine anything better than the hot bowl of tripe, pig skin and daikon I had at a Chinese restaurant today. To me "trippa a la Fiorentina" is one of the glories of Italian cuisiine (when they don't cook it to a mush). I bought a baby goat on Arthur Avenue a couple of days ago. The kidneys were delicious and the head will go into a soup. In the Balkans they chop the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs of a young lamb, season and sauté with onions, wrap in caul fat and roast. It is then served with sour cream. I would classify all  these dishes at the higher end of gastronomic achievements .  :raz:

What Chinese restaurant was that?

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  • 2 years later...

One of my cooking/eating goals this year is to revisit offal. I'll pretty much eat anything, or at least try something once, but I've not been able get past my childhood memories of liver and tripe. I fear they were not well prepared by mother, who is not an enthusiastic cook, so I'd like to give them another try. I use oxtail a lot for braised stews (not sure if that qualifies as offal), and I've been pleasantly surprised when I've tried a dish, liked it, and later found out there was bits of liver in it.

My questions. Where should I start? I'd like to try the whole range of "variety meats," but I think starting with something hardcore, like brains, will bring a quick end to my project. Should I bypass the liver I see at the grocery store and visit my butcher for best quality? Any preparation tips for the offal you recommend? Cookbooks that will make my project go easier? (I have The Good Cook book on variety meats, which has lots of helpful pictures and directions.)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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My eGullet blog

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I would suggest that you start with the mildest items. First sweetbreads, then maybe tongue, foie gras, chicken livers before calves, veal fries, kidneys and tripe last.

Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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Try to get always the freshest possible products. This is crucial with offals.

Maybe start with a handsome slice of fresh veal liver, butter-poached for two minutes each side together with 3 or 4 very fine slices of garlic. Serve with salt and some lemon drops. Chicken liver is also great.

For tripe, I'd suggest a "Trippa alla Fiorentina", which is prepared with tomato. (You'll find a recipe with googling). For many tripe-non-fans, the tomato softens the offal-taste sufficiently.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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I just purchased Anissa Helou's The Fifth Quarter, an offal cookbook published by

Absolute Press in Great Britain.

Amazon UK sells it.

The book has a wonderful collection of recipes, from a whole slew of food cultures, to keep you busy for many years to come.

Edited by Wolfert (log)
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“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Thanks for starting this thread. My SO and I were discussing eating adventures the other night. I am pretty good about trying things, and I already love liver (cow, duck, chicken - whatever!), I always lay claim to the chicken heart and gizzard, have tried and enjoyed steak and kidney pie, but I have never tried sweetbreads or trip. We agreed it would be a waste to try them in a restaurant and hate them, but dubt they are something we would want to attempt at home.

So, please tell me - what do sweetbreads actually taste like? Is there any comparison?

For that matter, how about tripe? Never had that either.

Next thread will have to be on eel - I cannot imagine eating eel.

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Chicken livers would be my recommendation for the first stage of this trip. They're easy to make and really delicious.

They come in a little tub from the grocers and there's basically no advance preparation required (though you should turn them all over and look at them to make sure that you don't have a gall bladder in there, because if you eat one you will be forever icked out by chicken livers).

Dredge them in seasoned flour (the way you'd make regular fried chicken) and pan fry them in the fat of your choice until they're nice and crispy. Mashed potatoes make a great side.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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What a coincidence, I was thinking of starting such a thread! But I my title was "what's the most offal thing you've eaten and like?"

Mine is lamb's brains and kidneys.

Okay, maybe brains are too much for the beginner. Lamb's brain lasagna from Biskra, Yum!

Actually Lyon is famous for alot of offal preparations that aren't so awful. I think that these preparations might be good to start with. They tend to be milder.

Edited by chefzadi (log)

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

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Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

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Thanks for starting this thread.  My SO and I were discussing eating adventures the other night.  I am pretty good about trying things, and I already love liver (cow, duck, chicken - whatever!), I always lay claim to the chicken heart and gizzard, have tried and enjoyed steak and kidney pie, but I have never tried sweetbreads or trip.  We agreed it would be a waste to try them in a restaurant and hate them, but dubt they are something we would want to attempt at home.

So, please tell me - what do sweetbreads actually taste like?  Is there any comparison? 

For that matter, how about tripe? Never had that either.

Next thread will have to be on eel - I cannot imagine eating eel.

Sweetbreads are very mild, almost creamy in texture. A great option for trying in a restaurant. There are two sorts of sweetbreads, pancreas and thymus. Despite their being radically different sorts of organs in terms of their purposes and cellular composition they are so similar in taste and texture that I'd can't distinguish them (though I've never done a side by side comparison, so maybe I can and just don't know it).

Eel is great. It's just fish, not strange at all. On the oily side, like mackerel. Get it in a Japanese restaurant.

The biggest issue with tripe and similar items is that it's chewy.

Kidneys tend to smell a bit like, um, pee.

Brains are also interesting texture-wise, very soft. I'm not a big fan of brains, personally. Just not interesting enough to bother with aside from the weirdness of them.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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So, please tell me - what do sweetbreads actually taste like?  Is there any comparison? 

For that matter, how about tripe? Never had that either.

Offals have in general subtle tastes. I think a very important issue about offals is it's very soft texture, notably brain and sweetbreads.

All in all, you love it or you hate it. Fish liver is maybe THE divider when it comes to hate/love.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Actually, if you can get true calves liver it will be light pink, and it has a delicate flavor and texture.

Most of the stuff we can usually get in the supermarkets is very thinly cut beef red liver with a very firm texture. It that came from a calf, I am on my first set of teeth and not my third.

I like it rare, but medium rare may be more to your liking.

There is little better than chicken livers (put them in an omelet, they are fantastic).

Sweetbreads are OK, but I find them rather tasteless (I know others love them). And cooking them at home is a bit of a chore if you are not fond of them.

Kidneys to me taste somewhat like a mild liver, but we can almost never find them.

My suggestion is calves liver, cut about 1/4 inch thick, and sauteed with caramelized onions and bacon.

Liver will take many accompanying sauces and flavors, and I think it is a good place to start.

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