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Offal... again... too un-hip?


PCL
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For this once, in a long while, I think Mr Lethlean has got it right.

Check out his Epicure article on tripe...here

And apparently, Fergus Henderson is coming to town, of St John's fame in London. The Man, The Dude.

How many of you eat offal?

What is your ethnic origin?

Why don't they serve it up more often?

Why can't it be everywhere, all the time?

Australians can do better, I believe, truly, I do.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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PCL,

Interesting. I would have thought Aussies would eat more offal than they do, due to the influence of the many peoples who have migrated here. I guess they don't like the squirmy bits.

I didn't like them either until I met my husband. My WASP background hadn't prepared me for all the parts of an animal the French eat. They convinced me to try all sorts of inner bits and I was really surprised to find I liked 'em.

fou

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Being in the first generation of Chinese in my family to be born here, I grew up eating offal. Tripe, liver, kidney, stomach lining, pigs trotters, tongue - you name it, we ate it. I didn't like all of it though. The flavour of kidney and liver was too strong for me. But I loved the texture of the offal, whether it was the silky smoothness of tripe and pigs trotters or the crunch of pigs ears and the stomach. Dried chicken giblets (often cooked in a soup) were another favourite. Since then, I've learned to appreciate liver and kidneys.

My only problem is that I only eat these things when I go out. I really should cook them at home. It's not as if I don't have recipes for them.

Just recently, I got a copy of Marco Pierre White's "White Heat". In it, he has Pierre Koffmann's recipe for braised pigs trotters. It looks stunning in the phote. But the recipe looks like one that would need the entire weekend to accomplish.

Anyway, so does anyone want to go to one of these offal dinners at the Homestead?

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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The Caribbean has several recipes for Offal

here are a few:

Tripe and Beans (using Broad beans). Jamaica

Liver & Light }cows, goats ,and pigs used though the cow is more popular

Kidneys } served with boiled green bananas

Souse (using Pigs trotters) Barbados

Curried Goat Belly

Mannish Water soup using head,foot,tripe,testicles -Jamaica

Cow Cod soup (a misnomer as it is really the bulls testicles)

Even the cow skin is stewed down and eaten ...

as they say" waste not ,want not" :cool:

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Offal should really feature more.

It seems like most are put off after having experienced some of the old cliches such as being forced to eat liver by mums and grandmas. The Chinese, Italians etc however, don't seem to have such a stigma. And really, the French don't either. So my contention is that Australian cuisine should try harder.

For what it's worth, here are a few places in Melbourne where offal does appear on the menu:

Tiamo Cafe, Lygon St... chicken livers

Sud used to serve up calf's liver now and then, and sometimes, tongue.

Izakaya Chuji - grilled tongue and sometimes chicken livers on skewers

France Soir - lamb brains, sometimes sweetbreads and livers, never seen trotters there though, pity

Aux Batifolles - liver in various forms

Interlude - sweetbreads appear, brains?? C'mon Robin!

Florentino's Cellar Bar - TRIPE!!!!....

...any takers from Sydney? Adelaide? Perth?....

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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As a citizen of what may arguably be the most offal-avoiding nation on the planet, I deeply sympathize. :smile:

For what it's worth, I too hail from an ethnic group that has a more positive attitude about offal--at least, those bits of offal that do not violate the laws of kashrut. I have since gone on to explore and savor all sorts of offal that probably would have blown my Eastern European Jewish ancestors' minds.

And I too have found myself wondering why the majority of my fellow Americans are so put off by offal. (Actually, it's part of my general wonderment at the large number of Americans who are suspicious of any bit of animal protein that hasn't been sufficiently processed as to hide its origin as part of a living breathing critter...but I'm already bending the topicality of this thread...)

I even recall nearly coming to blows with a housemate's houseguest, who objected to the odor of the stewed kidneys I was cooking. And I wasn't even cooking them for the consumption of anyone except myself! (Said guest was a slimeball, so it was no loss.)

If I ever make it over to London, I am making a beeline to St. John. And if I should ever find myself in Melbourne, I'll be sure to ring you up to go on an offal expedition somewhere. :biggrin:

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Interlude - sweetbreads appear, brains?? C'mon Robin!

Chef Robin can correct me on this, but I swear I once saw lambs brains (crumbed and fried) on his menu sometime last year.

btw, I should add that intestines were old another favourite from the family dinners. I also remember going to Sydney with the family and going to a Chinese restaurant where they served a sublime dish of stir fried bone marrow. I had this particular dish when I was probably no older than 8 or 9 years old and I still remember it.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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And I too have found myself wondering why the majority of my fellow Americans are so put off by offal.

Anthony Bourdain put it best in his Les Halles cookbook. He pointed out that Americans (and this applies to Australians as well) used to eat like champs - kidneys, livers, brains, the full range of offal. But as the prime cuts of meat got cheaper and more affordable for more people, less of them had to eat offal, so it fell by the wayside. Also, a generation of mums saying, "but it's good for you" and cooking all texture and flavour out of offal didn't help.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Being brought up in England on offal and everyting else, the thing I miss most is pig's bag (tripe). Although last year I bought a butchered pig off a local breeder and asked if I could have the stomach bag, liver and kidneys, He said certainly I could but I would have to come and pick those up the day after he killed the pig, whereas he would deliver the rest of the meat 3 days later.

So I picked up the bag of offal and he informed me I had got double of the offal because he had butchered another one for their own use but they never ate "that stuff"

So 2 pigs bags I had but what to do with them? they were cleaned very nicely, but I had only ever bought it cooked in England. I hadn't had any for about 13 years before on my last visit to England. I thought well I'm sure it would only be boiled in salted water. So thats what I did and let it simmer for about 50 mins. Then ate it cold with salt, pepper and vinegar. Divine!

By the way the pork was beautiful too. So much tastier than shop bought pork.

Other offal I like is tripe, either cooked as tripe and onions or cold cut up and with s&p & vinegar. Sweetbreads, boiled and then dipped in seasoned flour and fried. (I'm making my mouth water here) I have been able to get these occasionally from a home butchery locally but these people have moved so now I don't know where to get them.

Liver and kidney, yes I love them both, I think pork liver and chicken livers are the best any any kidney is fine with me.

I'm really hungry now!!!!

Edited by Cedreena (log)
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Offal should really feature more.

It seems like most are put off after having experienced some of the old cliches such as being forced to eat liver by mums and grandmas. The Chinese, Italians etc however, don't seem to have such a stigma. And really, the French don't either. So my contention is that Australian cuisine should try harder.

For what it's worth, here are a few places in Melbourne where offal does appear on the menu:

Tiamo Cafe, Lygon St... chicken livers

Sud used to serve up calf's liver now and then, and sometimes, tongue.

Izakaya Chuji - grilled tongue and sometimes chicken livers on skewers

France Soir - lamb brains, sometimes sweetbreads and livers, never seen trotters there though, pity

Aux Batifolles - liver in various forms

Interlude - sweetbreads appear, brains?? C'mon Robin!

Florentino's Cellar Bar - TRIPE!!!!....

...any takers from Sydney? Adelaide? Perth?....

Ah, brains I'd fogotten about them. The only times I've seen them on a menu in Oz is every time I've been in hospital, "Crumbed Brains". I have bought them in Sydney butchers and cooked them myself, never seen them in Tasmania though.

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Australian here - living in the UK - of mixed 'skip' and austro/czech background.

I noticed when I was in Melbourne for Christmas that there was more offal than I remembered on the menus of places we ate at. I'm fairly sure that tripe was on the menu at the Metropolitan in North Melbourne and crumbed brains and lambs fry were both listed at this Ballarat pub.

I love, nay ADORE marrow of any sort - especially osso bucco, but i've never considered that to be 'proper offal'. Which I don't eat. Ever. Unless it's disguised as something else (headcheese, pate, liverwurst, weisswurst, steak and kidney). My parents are happy to eat lambs fry and liver - although I don't think they do anything particularly regional with it.

Chitterlings - a Wiltshire speciality - give me the fear.

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Australian here - living in the UK - of mixed 'skip' and austro/czech background.

I noticed when I was in Melbourne for Christmas that there was more offal than I remembered on the menus of places we ate at.  I'm fairly sure that tripe was on the menu at the Metropolitan in North Melbourne and crumbed brains and lambs fry were both listed at this Ballarat pub. 

I love, nay ADORE marrow of any sort - especially osso bucco, but i've never considered that to be 'proper offal'.  Which I don't eat.  Ever.  Unless it's disguised as something else (headcheese, pate, liverwurst, weisswurst, steak and kidney).  My parents are happy to eat lambs fry and liver - although I don't think they do anything particularly regional with it.

Chitterlings - a Wiltshire speciality - give me the fear.

Well you are in good company I read somewhere that the Queen mother used to like marrow spread on toast.

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Well, I grew up in Australia eating offal, and I'm fourth generation Australian on one side and (I think) fifth generation on the other. My ancestors came from Devon, Scotland, and some unknown part of Germany. So I suppose my ancestry is not one you would associate with offal consumption in the same way that one associates, for example, Chinese ancestry and the preparation and consumption of offal.

Nevertheless, at home we ate tripe, brain, liver (usually lamb's as it was the cheapest - three for a dollar!), tongue and kidneys. Marrow, of course, was fought over, and brains were a rare luxury. Everything else was also popular except for the tripe as my mother had only one way she ever cooked it, and that wasn't particularly good. Didn't stop her making it though. And all of us kids still cook all of those things, although the dishes they appear in are quite likely to be different from my mother's (and I don't think any of us are clamoring to make her particular tripe dish).

Back when I was first married and had no money at all, moreover, I would frequently buy pig's trotters or a pig's head and cook them. Seeing as these were available at regular supermarkets in Adelaide, where I was living at the time (this was the early to mid 1980s) , I don't think they were really all that rare in Australia. Surely they wouldn't have been for sale in such a location if there were no market whatsoever for them?

In fact, I've lived in the US, the UK, and various other countries since then and although pig's trotters are not too hard to get hold of, I've never yet seen pig's heads for sale in a regular supermarket in any of the places I've lived. Tripe doesn't appear too often either. In fact, I often have to make more of an effort to hunt down many types of offal than I did while in Australia.

It could be that my family differed greatly from the norm (always possible I guess) - we definitely had less disposable income than most of the people we knew.

But it could also be that a certain number of people had just been eating it quietly at home throughout - after all offal traditionally never had a high enough status to be served to guests or to make it onto restaurant menus. And that - as people have become more aware of how offal is prepared in certain other cuisines - its status (and price) has risen enough that it is being paid more attention. If that is the case, maybe you can look forward to it becoming increasingly available on restaurant menus? :smile:

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In response to the Sydney query,

For European food, you will often see sweetbreads and livers at Restaurant Balzac, Randwick, trotters at Becasse, City; boudin noir and sweetbreads abound at Tabou, Surry Hills; wonderful wonderful tripes at Bistro Moncur, Woollahra and the bone marrow beignet is the gastro-accessory du jour.

For Asian food, you will find them everywhere, chicken feet and duck webs at yum cha; livers, kidneys and intestine soups; steamed blood cakes etc etc. Anywhere in Chinatown, Cabramatta, Eastwood.

Thanks for all the offal talk. Reminds me of an absolutely wonderful offal meal I enjoyed in Rome, where they offered rigatoni con pajata. Milk-fed calves' intestines are served with the semi-coagulated milk inside (I take it they were slaughtered sometime soon after feeding) to accompany rigatoni in a tomato sauce.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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What a response. I'm chuffed. So people are willing to eat the stuff. It was remiss of me to forget about the Chinese influence in terms of yum-cha goodies. Hell, I even know of skips :biggrin: who crave chicken's feet.

To me though, I don't really consider trotters, feet, heads etc to be offal. Offal to me has always been the bits inside, the organs if you like. Bull's penis is contentious however, and you can get a serving of it with your pho if you ask nicely at most pho restaurants.

St John's was a revelation for me, and I ate there like, no shit, weekly over a 3 month period. My waist line told me to stop. I really hope that should Fergus make his way out here, it would be the greatest Brit Invasion coup ever, should his ideals take seed among local chefs and restrateurs.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Interlude - sweetbreads appear, brains?? C'mon Robin!

Chef Robin can correct me on this, but I swear I once saw lambs brains (crumbed and fried) on his menu sometime last year.

btw, I should add that intestines were old another favourite from the family dinners. I also remember going to Sydney with the family and going to a Chinese restaurant where they served a sublime dish of stir fried bone marrow. I had this particular dish when I was probably no older than 8 or 9 years old and I still remember it.

Yes Lamb brains have been on the menu, as well as whole pigs head, jowl, black pudding(not really offal i know), trotters, sweetbreads, tripe. Lots of Duck offal, gizzards, heart

We are big fans of offal here. Still trying to persuade a butcher to get me pig lungs.

Robin Wickens

Chef/Proprietor

Interlude, Melbourne

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Robin,

Call Excell Meat Supplies on Lygon St, Carlton. Speak to Frank. He supplies also to La Luna on an ad hoc basis for bits and pieces, not beef of course, heaven forbid... He can usually get what others can't.

The butchers on Victoria St provide good steady supplies of duck gizzards and chicken gizzards... I like them browned in oil and butter, with some garlic thrown in towards the end of cooking, and then flamed with a stiff shot of cognac/brandy/whatever strong stuff happens to be lying around. Calvados works well too...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I just noticed, even our local coles is selling Tripe and Lambs brains, the local snooty european butcher has liver, out on display and offal out back. The local Asian butchers predictably have every part of the pig on display. My local italian restaurant always has an offal special of some kind. I've never seen Australia as a particularly offal fearing country.

PS: I am a guy.

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The butchers on Victoria St provide good steady supplies of duck gizzards and chicken gizzards... I like them browned in oil and butter, with some garlic thrown in towards the end of cooking, and then flamed with a stiff shot of cognac/brandy/whatever strong stuff happens to be lying around. Calvados works well too...

You have to try gizzards confited in duck fat then. It's OMG good.

PS: I am a guy.

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10 or fifteen years ago, remember seeing items like steak and kidney pie, lambs fry , brains , liver on most of the pub menus, that certainly isn't the case now. I used to go to Cafe K in Little Bourke street, and most of the time they have crumbed brains, and grilled pickled tongue with caper sauce on the menu, oh my god , there were the best, a bit sad when they closed.

If anyone is interest, at La Parisenne Pate they make very nice andouillettes sausage (chitterlings and other mysterious bits) they are so good.

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Pein, the classic "fifth quarter" cooking in Rome and elsewhere includes tails, feet, heads etc. which are not part of the internal organs. For example, the pride of many Roman offal restaurants is their coda alla vaccinara, slow-cooked oxtail in tomato and a hint of chocolate. However, that's clearly a matter of the scope of the discussion and how "offal" would be defined, I guess. Maybe we should call it "organ meats?" :smile:

Also, could you please explain in what manner St John's was a revelation to you? You are clearly well-versed in offal consumption, so was it a matter of the quality of the product you were being served? I have never eaten at St John's, but it strikes me from the media materials that the reason St John's is getting so much favourable press is that it is retreating back to an older, more traditional and earthy style of food without the luxury ingredients and foams that every commis chef seems to be playing around with these days.

Everyone seems to agree that St John's is good, so I am not disputing that (or in a position to do so!). But many good restaurants have gone bust for whichever reason. In other words, is St John's enjoying such success not so much for the quality of the experience that it offers but mostly because it is staking a claim for the old ways which, while they had inherent merit, people were prepared to forsake in the name of affluence?

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Julian,

It's for all the reasons you've described. The concept was yes, rustic, but clean. No fuss. Good ingredients. And in my mind, reasonable.

The best thing was, really, the honesty.

We lack something like that in our dining scene I think. We of all people, should be able to do honest better.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 4 weeks later...

Adding to the list, Libertine in North Melbourne seem to be fans of offal. As in my review, I tucked into some lambs brains and the missus's rabbit dish was cooked with kidneys and livers.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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