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Nose to Tail in Practice


liuzhou

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2 hours ago, FeChef said:

I wouldn't eat eye balls, but if we are talking about strange foods, most non US countries think peanut butter is strange.

 

What??

 

Peanut butter is eaten around the world. It certainly isn't US only. The USA isn't even the top consumer!

My local stores in China all carry it as do stores in most SE Asian countries.  It's eaten all over Europe, Africa and the Antipodes.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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10 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

What??

 

Peanut butter is eaten around the world. It certainly isn't US only. The USA isn't even the top consumer!

My local stores in China all carry it as do stores in most SE Asian countries.  It's eaten all over Europe, Africa and the Antipodes.

I had to move to Norway to get my first Peanut butter in a local store shelve, and It was a really nice surprise (before, I though it was awful ha ha)

Nice thread, anyway, sorry for the smallish off topic. 

 

I've seen during my early life eyes on broth/rich soups, from time to time, but never got interested on them (maybe one of the few offals I have not go into). There were not readily available but it was a matter of pre-order to the butcher. Other nice stuff like lamb brains, callos (tripe), trotters, liver or kidneys used to be available straight away, but not anymore.

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Fried pork skin with and without a bit of flesh attached is sold by street vendors and in Latin markets here. The street vendoers fry on site. The best market one  I've encountered did on site too. I got stuck behind a woman once who had the guy behind counter show her a number of pieces so she could assess the skin to flash ratio.  As to her cultural connection, and based on skin and accent she was a black woman raised in US South. Maybe @gulfporter can show us some from Mexico

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What you are referring to as "cracklings," I knew as "pork rinds." Cracklings were the tiny bits of meat and skin left when one rendered lard, which was then strained into buckets. The cracklings were drained on brown paper bags, and then bagged up and kept for use in cornbread.

 

I'd give a good deal for a big pan of crackling cornbread and some new sorghum right now.

 

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7 hours ago, kayb said:

What you are referring to as "cracklings," I knew as "pork rinds." Cracklings were the tiny bits of meat and skin left when one rendered lard, which was then strained into buckets. The cracklings were drained on brown paper bags, and then bagged up and kept for use in cornbread.

 

 

Well, yes, names vary from place to place in many things.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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We’ve eaten the snout, the tongue, the ears, the brains. We’ve discounted the eyes. Please tell me that you’re not going to throw away what remains of the head just yet.

 

Please, please tell me you have designs on the pork cheeks! Whether slow cooked fresh or cured to make a guanciale-type bacon, these cheap cuts are utterly delicious. And we still won’t be finished with the head.

 

1052695332_PorkCheeks.thumb.jpg.eb3d1581cab9a48cc7c54586eeb4ab67.jpg

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Pork cheeks are one of the most overlooked parts of the pig. They live in a pocket of fat just beneath the eyes, next to the jowls with which they are sometimes confused. They aren’t large to begin with and will shrink more as their fat renders during cooking so you ‘ll need two or three per person for a main dish, depending on the recipe.

 

It is best to sear them in a pan, then slow cook them, giving that fat time to render out and moisten and flavour the flesh. The braising liquid can be enhanced with white wine or, of course, cider. Alternatively, a tomato sauce does no harm, at all.

 

If you fancy a Chinese treatment, this recipe braises them with 5-spice, chillies, Sichuan peppercorns and rice wine or Serious Eats has an adaptation of a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe for braised cheeks with daikon radish, although cauliflower could easily be substituted if preferred. The jowls can also be used in this recipe which has more Cantonese flavours.

 

Finally, should you wish to cure your pig cheeks or jowls to make guanciale-type bacon, here is a method. Note that, depending on weight, it takes between three weeks to four months to cure in the fridge, so isn’t something you decide to do one wet Tuesday afternoon. It takes planning, but is well worth the trouble. This link includes full instructions and a video.

 

Guanciale_closeup_(cropped).thumb.jpg.0e399d2457a945891d52cfcdea2f2450.jpg

Guangiale - Image by Popo le Chien, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

 

So what do we have left of the head? Teeth and whiskers. Not much we can do with them. I have heard of a fabled Sichuan preparation whereby the animal’s hard upper palate is converted to something chewy but edible by the name of 天堂 (tiān táng), meaning ‘paradise’ but although I’ve seen pictures and it looks like something I’d try, a recipe has so far proved elusive.

 

However, there is one thing left. The stripped skull is sold in markets to be used in making stocks and broths. Bone soup, if you will. How much actual flesh and or collagen remains attached is a matter of luck, but it will probably brighten up your noodle soup.

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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I love me some cheeks. Pork cheeks are not common in my area of the US, but Beef cheeks are. Which make the most delicious taco's.

 

Cured pork Jowls are available but honestly, i prefer cured pork belly.AKA bacon.

Edited by FeChef (log)
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And so we come to the heart of the matter and one of my favourite piggy parts. It’s an extremely busy organ and so is quite lean compared to much of the animal, but not at the cost of flavour.

 

858452279_pigsheart2.thumb.jpg.80fae2cde952920dcf8997749d6cc259.jpg

Pig's Heart

 

I am, of course, talking about the pig’s heart. ¾ of a pound / 350 grams of delicious muscle. Enough for two servings. Scale up as required. The heart does not taste or have the same mouthfeel as other pork parts; in fact it’s more like beef in flavour, but a smoother texture, I find.

 

Heart is one of those foods which like, for example, squid, need to be cooked for the briefest possible time or cooked for a very long time. Anything in-between is inedible. I’ve done both and can’t decide which I prefer – except when I’m hungry which is most of the time – then quicker is better!

 

As always the heart is cleaned and any connective tissue, sinews and silver skin removed. There may be some fat around the top; trim away any excess. Some recipes suggest soaking the heart overnight to remove blood and impurities; I’ve never found that to be necessary.

 

1457623386_pigsheart.thumb.jpg.07ff7225a54e04ac40b93729709bd76a.jpg|

Pig's Heart

 

The heart can be sliced and flash fried or diced marinated overnight in olive oil and herbs of choice, then again fried for 10 minutes at most before serving with a salad and any remaining marinade.

 

For some reason, I find many recipes pair it with carrots. Wouldn’t be my first choice, but then I find carrots boring most of the time*. Here is one French recipe and one Thai/Chinese both featuring carrots.

 

If you want to go the slow cooking route, hearts need a minimum of an hour’s simmering to get them anywhere near tender. Seems like too much trouble for little gain, to me.

 

Beef hearts are rarely available around here and are larger than is practical in my life. I’ve had lamb hearts in northern China and damned good they were, too, but I’ve never seen here.

 

*There are exceptions, I know.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Usually lamb's heart here in the UK. Very much another of my lone treats. My dear father in law loved it, but he passed away in 2020. Quick fried, with maximum pungency added: pepper rather than chilli, salt or probably soy sauce, raw onions. Actually thinking about it, my bil likes it, so next time he's over, perhaps. Heart is not always available at the supermarket though. We'll see.

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12 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Did we skip over the neck or doubling back to get there?

 

 

I did say in the first post it may not all be in order. Anyway, I see the neck as a main cut and am concentrating more on the less usual parts. But fear not, neck will arrive.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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9 hours ago, FeChef said:

 pickled chicken hearts, 

When I was little, whenever they butchered a hog, my mother used to take the heart, pickle and can it. She and I were the only ones that would eat it but that was all right because it left more for me. I loved it. I have since tried to recreate her recipe but there's always just something missing.

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I’m thinking few, if anyone here will be gracing the dinner table with this any time soon. In fact, for most members, it would involve a degree of criminality! In the USA, as I understand it, it is legal to consume this foodstuff, but illegal to import or sell it.

 

Lungs have never been mainstream in the Anglophone nations or in western culture in general (with one honourable exception). Yet, they are common enough in Asian cultures, even appearing as a street food speciality in places.

 

The exception, of course, is in Scotland with the ‘Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!’, my beloved haggis.

 

Quote

A dish consisting of the heart, lungs*, and liver of a sheep, calf, etc. (or sometimes of the tripe and chitterlings), minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned with salt, pepper, onions, etc., and boiled like a large sausage in the maw of the animal.

OED

 

* referred to as ‘lights’ when used in the culinary sense. Usually from sheep.

 

Haggis.thumb.jpg.e08587ae16fd0ea8e4bbe85d7b19a883.jpg

Haggis (Centre)

 

Here in China, the Sichuan dish 夫妻肺片 (fū qī fèi piàn) is justly famous. This literally means ‘man and wife lung slices’ and consists of beef offal including the tripe, heart, tongue and skin, but is notable for containing zero lungs! Fuchsia Dunlop explains in her The Food of Sichuan (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) that the dish is misnamed , probably because of confusion over similar sounding Chinese characters.

 

But all is not lost.

 

1442925226_pigslungs.thumb.jpg.c536a81a7c69db51cdf77c7d204cc8c5.jpg

Pig's Lungs

 

猪肺 (zhū fèi), pig’s lungs are easily available and used in soups and other dishes. These can seem alarmingly large, especially when they are soaked to clean them, but they quickly deflate when cooked and become more manageable. Cleaning the lungs is particularly important and it is best to pump water through them until it runs clear. This can take time and several changes of water. Masochists could seek out a recipe for 杏汁猪肺汤 (xìng zhī zhū fèi tāng), Cantonese almond soup with pig’s lungs. More sensibly, find it in a Hong Kong restaurant. This dish is notoriously difficult to prepare and requires around two hours just cleaning the lungs.

 

Or you can do what I do; let someone else do the work. Lungs are cleaned, prepared and cooked as snack food on the streets and in some supermarkets.

 

480139148_Pigslung.thumb.jpg.402db8242246bcb8db74a40064f003f8.jpg

Lungs on sticks

 

Not bad, but I'm sticking with my haggis.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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my curiosity got the better of me. I had to know why lungs cannot be sold.

Here 

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You might not be allowed to buy lungs in the USA, but the USDA does allow this next key ingredient, a feature of dishes around the world. Coursing through the bodies of the animals we eat is highly nutritious food, full of easily absorbable iron and vitamin K, which helps stops you bleeding to death when you cut yourself. This food also aids with the retention of calcium in the bones, important as we get older.

 

1960674971_cowsblood.thumb.jpg.0900ff8b36197e4f4476d29ffffa9588.jpg

Cow's Blood

 

Considered too valuable to waste, the life blood of slaughtered creatures is gathered from chickens, ducks, geese etc, but also from pigs, sheep, cattle, camels, horses, etc, depending on any local or religious taboos.

 

There are few societies which don’t have some kind of blood sausage in their culinary repertoire from British black pudding to North Korean blood and glutinous rice sausage. French boudin, Polish kiszka. Spanish morcilla. Finnish mustamakkara. I could go on.

 

731770684_KoreanBloodSausage(1).thumb.jpg.95c57cae17d4949a07a71ed9f4976171.jpg

North Korean Blood Sausage with Glutinous Rice

 

But blood bangers are not the only way to go. In China, blood (usually pig’s, cattle or poultry) is allowed to congeal until firm, then cubed and added to soups and hotpots. I’ve eaten it this way in congee, too. It can also be stir fried.

 

blood2.thumb.jpg.66fac6f56ad1dd4079ac1b8441959c92.jpg

Cubed Blood for Stir Frying

1838406581_friedblood.thumb.jpg.bdc103b00d4098d3c810f7808e706810.jpg

Stir Fried Pig's Blood  with Chillies

 

Because of the similar texture, this is commonly known as ‘blood tofu’ or 血豆腐 (xuè dòu fu) among other names – similar preparations are found across SE Asia and among the Chinese diaspora. And can be found in my local supermarket!

 

blood.thumb.jpg.916fcee795e1d3fe03258583e75101cc.jpg

Pig's Blood in my Local Supermarket

 

Blood is also used as a thickening agent in many dishes, both western and eastern. One local dish is Quanzhou Blood and Vinegar Duck which is famous in Guangxi and Hunan. The braised duck dish is thickened with the animal's own blood. Bloody delicious!

 

I also must give mention to 毛血旺 (máo xuè wàng) or spicy Sichuan stew traditionally made from beef tripe and duck's blood. However, in The Food of Sichuan (eG-friendly Amazon.com link), Fuchsia Dunlop gives a recipe which ditches the tripe in favour of, of all things, SPAM®! It's that sort of dish; use what you will so long as you use the blood!

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A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Re: pig lungs. I can remember eating, or more accurately refusing to eat, "liver and lights" in the wake of hog-killing. My recollection is they were cut up, fried and served in some kind of sauce/gravy. But not to me. I could probably have handled the "lights," but not the liver. 

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5 hours ago, kayb said:

I could probably have handled the "lights," but not the liver. 

 

I think most people would go the opposite route.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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I’m not sure how many people will be able to stomach this.

 

1535393946_pigsstomach.thumb.jpg.a52a2f13ec2126201d63c2ad16859e06.jpg

Pig's Stomach

 

If there is one thing which seems to unite the USA ‘s southern states’ soul food tradition and that of China it's that both are partial to a bit of stomach. Pig’s stomach in particular. (I’ll return to other stomachs). Also known as ‘maw’, the Germanic name as opposed to the Greek-via-Latin ‘stomach’, these are popular across the afore-mentioned territories as well as among the Pennsylvania Dutch as a festive dish and in much of Latin America.

 

Pig's stomach never featured in my life growing up in the UK and France. Tripe came from cattle. End of. Lost opportunities!

 

I’m not going to dare say much, if anything, about the typical American treatment of these organs – I know next to nothing about that, but I am partial to some 猪肚 (zhū dǔ, pig stomach) from time to time. Well prepared, it is slightly al dente and mildly flavoured. It often turns up in stir fries and in soups or hotpots.

 

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Cleaned and prepared pig tripe 'ladders' in local supermarket

 

First thing to say is that if you thought cleaning lungs was a PITA, buy your stomachs pre-cleaned. They are pigs to wash. You need to repeatedly rinse them with water and vinegar (or rice wine) to get rid of their distinct odour. Bicarb or c⊘rn starch (if you insist) may help with the last traces. There is an excellent guide to all things pig stomach here with an even more detailed, illustrated guide to cleaning the things. (I’m less sure about the accompanying recipe, but that’s just me. I’d want it a lot spicier.) Here, some supermarkets do all that cleaning for you - at a price.

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A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Here’s a bit of pig you are extremely unlikely to come across by accident. 生肠 / 生腸 (Mandarin Pinyin: shēng cháng; Cantonese: sang cheong), these are the lady animal’s fallopian tubes (and sometimes the uterus), which are usually stir fried. A traditional Singaporean dish, it is harder to find there than previously although it can still be found in neighbouring Malaysia.

 

7552784056_907a1482ce_k.thumb.jpg.d538194193a70287a1f5a9e3918eddda.jpg

Pig's Fallopian Tubes

 

The tubes are pretty tasteless on their own, but have a crunchy, springing texture which is much appreciated and they take on the flavours of the accompanying ingredients, usually onion, garlic, ginger and hot sauce. They are also often served as 蝦米生腸 (Cantonese: har mai sang cheong), fallopian tubes with dried shrimp, which can bring pungent tastes to the dish. Despite being a Mandarin speaking area, Singapore uses the Cantonese name.

 

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蝦米生腸 (Cantonese: har mai sang cheong), fallopian tubes with dried shrimp

 

These are sometimes incorrectly described in English as intestines as they visually resemble the said organs and because the same Chinese character (肠/腸) is used in both.

 

I've never heard of them being served in mainland China, although they are sometimes seen as street food in Hong Kong. Frog's fallopian tubes (hasma) are used to make a dessert.

 

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A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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Having horrified the more sensitive with stomachs, lungs and fallopian tubes, I thought to give you a break and go a bit more mainstream, but still in the offal arena. Probably the least divisive offal is the liver, whether from poultry as in liver pâté or foie gras, or from mammals as in many dishes around the world.

 

Poultry, whether home made or commercial products, is probably the most common source of livers, but here I’m mainly looking at the mammals. And it’s quite a list.

 

1830344649_liverandonions.thumb.JPG.f755f13c68d2dc731a04c51e3b18e605.JPG

Liver and Onions

 

Like many, I was brought up with ‘liver, bacon and onions’ about once a fortnight. It wasn’t a highlight. Dredged in too much flour then fried to a leather-like consistency, how could it have been? I was astonished when I finally ate barely cooked liver. So delicious!

 

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Lamb's Liver

 

The liver of my childhood was nearly always lamb’s liver. Calves liver would have been first choice, but was outside our price range. Still. Nothing wrong with lamb’s liver. I still eat it when I can, although it's not so common here in southern China.

 

When I accidentally moved to China, I could only find pig and beef liver. I quickly got used to pig liver. Although it has a slightly more offal flavour than lamb’s it’s not overpoweringly so. The beef liver I fed to my cat, Nora. She liked it.

 

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Pig Liver

 

Since then I’ve eaten horse, donkey, deer and camel liver. Donkey and horse were good. Deer liver was rather gamey and camel even more so. For those with access to deer liver, there is comprehensive information here.

 

Ignore the recipe for deer haggis; putting maple syrup into haggis is a capital offence in Scotland! Or would be if we had maple syrup, which thankfully we don't!

 

Never eat the liver of carnivores. In fact, in general I recommend never eating land-dwelling carnivores*. They just don’t taste good. Polar bear liver will probably kill you. Hypervitaminosis A is an often fatal overdose of vitamin A, which polar bear livers have up to 100 times more than we do.

 

One of the greatest surprises in my life was in a small local restaurant here in Guangxi, but run by a couple from Sichuan. I spotted on the menu 鱼香肝尖, (yú xiāng gān jiān), 腈肝尖 (jīng gān jiān) and 圆葱焗猪肝 (yuán cōng jú zhū gān). These are fish-fragrance liver, quick fried liver and onion steamed pork liver. In fact, they are all pork liver. Over the next few days I sampled them all. The fish-fragrant liver had the classic Sichuan flavours. The quick fried liver was the opposite of what my mother cooked but roughly the same ingredients. The onion steamed pork liver became my favourite liver and onions dish ever.

 

776684029_pigsliverandfloweringchives1.thumb.jpg.0f639397213225b4cfd8b40ba40f63f0.jpg

Pork Liver with Flowering Chives

 

I’m not going to be so crass as to to tell you how to cook liver and onions; you probably have your own tried and tested family recipes, but if not the interwebs are full of them – some more inspiring than others. But I do recommend you add some green chilli peppers and Sichuan peppercorns to pep them up.

 

In fact, the internet has hundreds of recipes for all sorts of liver dishes.

 

One thing I don’t remember from growing up is these, available in my local supermarket.

 

1585639386_fishlivers.thumb.jpg.f72b5de77ebbce14fc5e69e7b2f0000d.jpg

 

 

These are fish livers from some unidentified species, probably carp. Yes, I spelled that correctly. I’ve never cooked them, but I do like me some monkfish liver – the foie gras of the sea, also available in some stores. That said, as children, we were regularly dosed with cod liver oil, whatever that was about.

 

213023522_monkfishliver1.thumb.jpg.06eb0e16b964b1e253ab385f8096ab43.jpg

Monkfish Liver

 

*Although pigs will eat pretty much everything, they are generally vegetarian when left to their own devices.

 

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A terrible thing is ignorance, the source of endless human woes, spreading a mist over facts, obscuring truth, and casting a gloom upon the individual life. - Lucian of Samosata (born 120, died after 180 CE)

 

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As a main dish growing up - yes liver and onions. My mom and I were big fans. It was beef iver, and when I started to cook as an adult calve's liver was reasonably priced. I associate charp mustard with liver. My mom also often included mushrooms. Texturall similarity?

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Great thread.

I won't pester it with comments to all the posts, but I would comment that you sometimes mentioned that some of the pork offal was not available in the west, i.e. when you lived in Scotland or moved to France. Most of what you show us is eaten (at least till very recent times) in Spain, some of the cooked dishes you showed could have been cocked by my old man :). Not sure why, but a key difference between Spain and other Western/European countries is our 7 centuries of Islamic history. After that period, the use of pork was exacerbated, it was a sign of "old christian", opposed to the "new" Christians, that were the few Jews and Muslims that converted to Christianity so they could remain in Spain, and still refused to eat pork.

 

Regarding the liver post (last one) I fully agree with you. The way pork/beef liver was traditionally (over)cooked by my parents was a crime against the product.

 

Liver, tripe and hearth are among my most regular offal at home, followed by tail, kidney and cheeks, from whatever animal I can get it from.

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It's interesting to see that so many have mentioned the way that our parents cooked liver. They sliced it so thin and then cooked it until it was hard and dry. My ex-mother-in-law was the worst. You could have taken the liver that she cooked and resoled your shoes. You would have only had to have done it once. I used to hate liver until I finally had it medium rare and it was a life changer.

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