Offal-ly scared


szwald

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I would like to MAYBE go out of my comfort zone and try to learn to use offal/organ meats. I have a pretty quick gag-reflex so I am hoping that some of your more adventurous eaters can give me a few ideas for EASING into this very scary world!

Also I am kind of interested in pork belly... what is it? How do you eat it? Should I be eating it at all?

EEEK!

PS prob no lkidneys or brains to start with... is that really lame?

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I've found beef heart to be reasonably easy to deal with. The texture is a little different from your standard steak, but it's not too bad. Pork belly is the cut that is cured into bacon. It's a good place to start if you want to make your own Whole30 approved bacon.

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Oooo I think I can try the meatballs... great actually bc the other stuff will mask the liver- I may have to ask the butcher to grind it up for me tho (bc again, the whole gagging thing). My dad slaughters a cow every 9 months or so for our family freezer and I have ALWAYS avoided tounge night and liver night- this has gotten much easier since I am now an adult and not living at home. The memories of these two dishes still haunt me and I am hoping to find ways to over come them.

HEART?! How do you even cook that- what about the veiny bits. I am trying desperatly to get over my aversion to cartilage and other chewy/crunchy bits in my meat, but really struggle if I happen to bite down on a texture that is not supposed to be there. Like puke on my plate struggle.

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Pork belly is exactly that. It is the fatty cut from the belly of the pig. Typically this is cured and then smoked to make bacon. The other way to prepare it is a bit complicated but is well worth the effort. This involves putting a dry rub on the belly then braising it in a flavorful liquid for several hours then crisping it up. Absolutely wonderful, tender bites of heaven. The best I have ever had is Michael Symon's (of Iron Chef fame). I could not find the recipe online but it is in his cookbook. This one here gives you the basic idea and steps. It is easy to make it compliant by omitting the sugar and wine. Just add more stock so your liquid quantities stay the same.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/crispy-mustard-braised-pork-belly-recipe/index.html

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My hat is off to you for even wanting to attempt this. My cousins in Ireland always laugh at my squeamishness over organ meats. They think nothing of using them. We Americans are spoiled with our insistence on lean muscle meat. But I have no intention of trying to change that any time soon. When my parents would come stay with me in the winters, they were forbidden to cook calves liver in my house because the smell would make me nauseous and it clung for days. I, too, have scary memories of that giant tongue sitting on a platter in the middle of the table, taste buds and all!

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I admit I'm pretty easy with offal (on an American sliding scale), but I like to grill heart after marinating (usually in a lemon or lime juice based marinade). We skewer it and it's a favorite. I prefer lamb heart for this. Chicken hearts can be similarly skewered and grilled and are pretty tender on their own.

Moroccans are good with liver too. They add paprika and lemon juice to liver and onions, and for lamb liver, they have an outrageously delicious grilled thing they do: lightly cook a liver (usually whole) to firm it up for cutting, then cut into chunks, wrap in strips of lamb caul fat (similar to wrapping in bacon, but bacon's out for Muslims) and grill with some salt and cumin. I've had liver-haters change their tune after eating this one, though admittedly, it takes special planning to get caul.

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Ok, I am going to do it. I am going to take the plunge and pray that it is not awful. @maryann!!!! THE TASTEBUDS oh my, that is stuck in my mindseye now. GROSS hahaha. But still I think that we are going to start with the meatballs, then maybe try a tounge taco... if I can get past peeling the skin back. Then maybe slowly work up to liver not mixed into other things. I am super excited to try pork belly and am also going to get that... I will let you know how it goes. Fingers crossed my gag reflex doesn't get the better of me. Not sure about the texture of pate- what do you put it on? I've never had it and always see it served with crackers or bread...

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not yet! We just started receiving vegetables through a local delivery service and I have not needed to go to the store... but soon, I promise. Our meat supply is going to run out this week and I will be visiting the butcher this weekend. I am SO doing this.

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