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Offal: Sourcing, Cooking, Eating


Nick
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i cook heart semi frequently. My favorite is fast grilled like Franci suggests. Marinating is good, but if you get really fresh from a good source then just salt will do just fine. It doesn't look like it can handle heat, but it sure can.

That said, I recently tried braising lamb heart. I forget the specifics, but something like 1.5 hours. It was also terrific. So terrific that my kid insisted on taking it to school for lunch.

Maybe it's like octopus, something you either cook fast or slow, but not in between?

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My Father in Law cooks a lot of chicken hearts, he is Italian (Calabria region).  I assume it's some sort of regional speciality.  Chicken hearts are the cheapest thing I've seen in our supermarket meat department.  I think he braises them with peppers (capsicum) and onions, they're very simple and tasty.

 

When I was younger we frequently had lambs brains, which were a favourite of mine.  We always had them crumbed and quickly fried.  I have cooked them a handful of times as an adult, and I slice them up first before I crumb them so they're more like brain scallopine.  Great with garlic butter.  I haven't had them for a long time though, although I ordered them at a restaurant once which raised the eyebrows of the friends I was with.

 

Lambs Fry / lambs liver was another regular meal when I was a kid, but I didn't like it much at all.  However as an adult I re-discovered it, and now I love it.  I like liver rare, and with a rich sauce.  I often use a port reduction and lots of caramelised onions.

 

I've never tried sweetmeat, and it's on the to-do list.

Edited by ChrisZ (log)
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I use  hearts in slow cooked  chilli and well the offal haters never know, they prefer that chilli over the other I make. Sadly hearts has become hard to come by since people started making their own sausages.

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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My father was one for experimenting and eating offal as he claimed it was the best parts of the animal. As a kid I grew up eating kidneys, livers, hearts, brains, tripe, tongue and oxtail. My mother would quietly go visiting on these occasions. The best offal meal I remember were sheep brains on toast, creamy and delicious! He also made fantastic brawn from scratch, using pigs trotters, a pigs head and cuts from other animals - all natural gelatine from the ingredients. Unfortunately, he never had a written recipe for any of his dishes and that knowledge was lost when he passed away in the late 70's.

However, I still cook a mean oxtail stew and a tripe and onion dish when I find the offal at my local butcher. I have gone off eating kidneys, liver and most of the other offal due to my partner, like my mother, disappearing when the suggestion of an offal dish is brought up, other than tripe and onions or oxtail stew - pity, but that is life!

Nearly forgot, I quite often cook up chicken livers peri-peri, delicious with fresh baguette to soak up the sauce! Ready in under 10 minutes.

Another method of cooking in South Africa is what is called "potjiekos", basically translated meaning "pot food", which is cooked in a three-legged cast iron pot over a fire. These pots are very common here and are obtainable everywhere. They resemble the pots depicted in cartoons where the "savages" were busy cooking up their latest meal of one missionary. Well, they come in all sizes, with a single number 4 or 5 pot big enough to cook a meal to serve about 20 people. One quite popular "potjiekos" dish is curried "pens en pootjies", which means tripe and small trotters. It is a dish that is cooked over a small fire for about 7 hours. It has always appeared to me to be quite a strange ritual as the female guests tend to gather in the house chatting about, well, what woman folk chat about, whilst having a glass or two of wine and making a salad or two, whilst the males normally gather around the fire, getting drunk and mostly talking about sport at first and later utter crap. As long as they feed the small fire with a bit of wood every now and again, things normally turn out okay and a good meal of tripe and trotters can be enjoyed.

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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Here, long time ago,  on Egullet when we were cooking from my region I talked about a traditonal dish for Easter, we either do a big kind of meatloaf with it, cazzomarro, or small rolls, marretti. Unfortunately the imageshacks images are no more available, I should still have the pictures somewhere, although the quality is terrible, this blog has better pictures. We also have on big skewers, like kebab style, like this. Generelly, lungs and livers, also sweetbreads.

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One of my favorite, FAVORITE soups when I was growing up was double-boiled pig's brain soup, done in the Cantonese/S-SE Chinese style, with selected herbs/root-rhizomes.  This was eaten at restaurants, always - it was just too much trouble for my mother to make at home.  I haven't had that for a long time; I bought frozen pig brains not that long ago (from the Chinese grocery) but never got round to preparing it - perhaps just as well as it probably would have fallen apart on defrosting and dissolved into the soup (especially after removing the membrane) which is NOT what properly prepared pig's brain soup should be like. (It should look like this, as one version)  I asked around recently if I could get fresh pig brains from local butchers, local farmers, etc - and all of them turned me down.

Edited by huiray (log)
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I had good luck covering lamb heart chunks in a seasoning like you use on chinese lamb skewers - cumin, ground chiles, salt, and MSG - then cooking in a super hot pan until it was still nice and pink inside.

 

I've read about using it raw, like in a kibbeh, so I did reserve a little and prepare it like a tartare... also successful, but we preferred the cumin flavored cooked version.

 

I wish I could get heart more consistently... the butcher I got that from is great, but you can never guarantee that they'll have the interesting spare parts!

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I had offal frequently as a kid; now, not so much. We had swetbreads, kidneys, heart, calves liver, and haggis. I remember eating stuffed gizzards, from chickens and Mallards we raised.

Sweetbreads have a sublime creaminess, especially if I can get the thymus, not the pancreas cut. The broth or gravy from beef kidneys is tremendous, but most are smelly; lamb kidneys seem to have the mildest odor, and produce a unique pan sauce. 

Maybe I'll gather together the parts for a tender, juicy haggis next week.

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I had offal frequently as a kid; now, not so much. We had swetbreads, kidneys, heart, calves liver, and haggis. I remember eating stuffed gizzards, from chickens and Mallards we raised.

Sweetbreads have a sublime creaminess, especially if I can get the thymus, not the pancreas cut. The broth or gravy from beef kidneys is tremendous, but most are smelly; lamb kidneys seem to have the mildest odor, and produce a unique pan sauce. 

Maybe I'll gather together the parts for a tender, juicy haggis next week.

 

Haggis is fantastic, but tends to be dry.  Especially with the traditional accompaniments...  Do you sauce it, or just lubricate it with whisky?

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Haggis is fantastic, but tends to be dry.  Especially with the traditional accompaniments...  Do you sauce it, or just lubricate it with whisky?

 

Heh.  I think I'd do the second option, regardless of whether or not it is dry or sauced.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I decided to start cooking Offal!  I just bough a whole chicken.  Inside the chicken there is a package with the heart and liver.  Is it OK to cook this heart and liver medium rare?  What about Salmonella?

 

Is it OK to use the chicken heart and liver that comes with the whole chicken or should I buy chicken heart and liver separately?

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I decided to start cooking Offal!  I just bough a whole chicken.  Inside the chicken there is a package with the heart and liver.  Is it OK to cook this heart and liver medium rare?  What about Salmonella?

 

Is it OK to use the chicken heart and liver that comes with the whole chicken or should I buy chicken heart and liver separately?

Technically, salmonella is an issue for offal but you need to weigh this against how offal tastes awful when cooked above pink. The biggest concerns come from cook-chill applications like Chicken Liver Pate, where you should take the temperature to ensure pasteurization. For items eaten hot, there's a risk of salmonella and children and pregnant women should be wary but it's an equivalent magnitude risk as eating a medium rare burger or a soft cooked egg. If you have Sous Vide equipment, you could cook to pasteurization while still ensuring pink creamy interiors but, IMHO, you want good browning on livers & hearts which is hard to get from already SV cooked foods.

Yes, you can use the hearts and livers that come inside a package of chicken, that's what they're there for.

PS: I am a guy.

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Is it OK to use the chicken heart and liver that comes with the whole chicken or should I buy chicken heart and liver separately?

 

I tend to buy them separately. One chicken liver or heart doesn't go far. But if one of either does turn up in a whole bird, I'll eat it for sure. Cooks privilege.

 

And definitely pink. Unless you are fond of tasteless rubber.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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I just bought a whole duck.  Inside the duck has a package of heart and liver.  Is it OK to cook this medium rare as well?  I assume duck Offal is "safer" to eat medium rare then chicken Offal.

 

Thanks!

 

I generally like pink liver (rare if it's beef) but it's still going to be tasty and nice if you also braise it a little bit

 

This was done just with one duck innards. I cut a tiny bit of onion, let it sweat gently, added half an apple brunoise, the offals cleaned and cut in appropriate size, Saute' briefly and deglazed with sherry and added a little bit of a duck jus that I was able to find in my freezer. Cover, reduce a little and done. It was delicious.

 

anatra.jpg

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I tend to cook my duck livers till it is *just* cooked through, provided I catch it in time.  A little "over" is still fine by me.  A little pink is nice but I don't worry too much about it.  I buy duck livers by the small tubful (1+ cupfull or so), usually fresh = unfrozen (I don't believe they were ever truly frozen in that case) when I get them from Goose the Market in Indy.  Here are three duck liver dishes (here, here and here) and a liver sauce I described (see also the post above that) where I sometimes use duck livers also.

Edited by huiray (log)
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I thought this would belong in this thread.

 

I picked up a monkfish liver today, and it reminds me a lot of foie gras.  It's also pretty big (the knife on the right is 12").  I'm just going to sauté it with butter, then make a sauce with cream, garlic and parsley, served with parsnips.

 

Monkfish liver.jpg

 

Well, there's a first time for everything.

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Picked up two organic chickens from Costco today. After breaking them down and while rendering stock from the bones I was left with two small lobes of liver. A sliced shallot and a shot of port and I had a wonderful little bite to enjoy while the pressure cooker hissed away. Not a great yield from two birds but you take what you get

c67459ec3fda95ef9a0a433e04a569e3.jpg

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