Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
19 Mar

It’s Not So Offal

friedliver 1MDA’s Quick Guide to Purchasing, Preparing and Eating Organ Meats

Everything but the Squeal, Thrift Cuts, Hunting Ethics… it would seem that in recent months we’ve spent a good deal of time talking about the benefits of feasting on the entire animal, but we’ve kind of side-stepped the fact that eating the whole animal also means eating the organs.

To some, organ meats are ho-hum foods of childhood, but to others, offal is an undiscovered – and somewhat stomach turning – culinary territory. Now, we’re not suggesting that everyone needs to eat organ meat in order to be perfectly Primal. Instead we’re endorsing offal as Primal food that has both fiscal and health benefits. Take a gander and let everyone know what you think in the comment boards!

Liver

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Possibly the most common organ meat consumed in the U.S., liver was once regarded as a meal for the affluent and was even named one of the Eight Delicacies in The Li-Chi, a handbook of rituals published during China’s Han era. So why should you be eating it? According to those in the know, liver is an excellent source of high quality protein; contains an abundance of vitamin A and several B vitamins; is an excellent source of folic acid and iron; is the number one food source of copper; and contains CoQ10, which is important for cardiovascular function.

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There really aren’t too many animals where liver is off limits – bar the polar bear, but there aren’t too many arctic explorers among us. In the U.S., the most frequently consumed types are beef, veal, goat, lamb, bison, buffalo, chicken, geese, or duck liver. When selecting liver for consumption, it is preferable to select one from a young animal as it is the mildest and most tender. How to know that you’re making a good choice? Many swear that the younger the animal, the paler the liver. Also, look for livers that have no slimy or dry patches and are relatively odor free.

To prepare a whole liver you’ll need to first rinse it and pat dry with a damp cloth. Next, with a sharp knife, remove any exposed veins, ducts or connective tissue then use your fingers to peel away the thin outer membrane and presto, the liver is now ready to eat! Sound too gruesome? A reputable butcher can usually take care of this for you! When preparing, it should be noted that liver should be cooked until it is light pink – cooking too much can cause it to toughen.

Kidney

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Kidney beans might be a no-no on the Primal eating plan, but kidneys? They’re a-ok. Kidneys are most frequently available in beef, lamb and pork form and are generally sold trimmed, with the central strip of hard white fat and the outer membrane removed. We recommend that you ease into eating kidneys by first purchasing beef kidneys, which have a milder flavor and are also the easiest – and least expensive – variety.

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When shopping for kidneys, look for those that are deep red in color – except for veal, which can take on a tan-cast – are plump and glossy with no bruised or discolored areas and no strong odor. To prepare, rinse the organs in cold water and, for a milder taste, soak in chilled water with a teaspoon of salt to each quart of water for one to two hours. From there, the kidney can be broiled, sautéed or braised.

Heart

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Talk about eating your heart out – depending on the size of the animal the heart is yielded from, the heart could weigh as much as 3 lbs. Because it is a muscle meat, heart is very similar to steak, roasts and ground beef, but is typically less expensive (we blame the “ick” factor for that!) and actually has a higher protein content. In addition, heart is an excellent source of a number of nutrients, including thiamin, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, CoQ10 and several of the B vitamins. In addition, beef heart contains amino acids that are thought to improve metabolism and compounds that promote the production of collagen and elastin (thin and wrinkle free? Sign us up!)

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When selecting a heart, look for one that is a deep reddish brown color and has a layer of fat near its top. Culinary experts universally recommend that you purchase only high quality organs. Some experts suggest that hearts from grass-fed animals can keep longer, are better in color, smell better and taste better than organs procured from other animals. As with most organ meats, hearts are pretty delicate during the cooking process, so you’ll want to be sure to cook it slowly and serve it medium rare.

Sweetbreads

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Sweet and bread? Sounds like a recipe for a carb overload, but in actuality, “sweetbreads” refers to the thymus and – depending on who you talk to – the pancreas glands of a calf or young cow, lamb or pig. In general, sweetbreads are pinkish-white in color, with those from the heart or belly taking on a round, plump appearance and those from the throat appearing more elongated and cylindrical.

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In terms of taste, sweetbreads are…uhhh, sweet tasting (as opposed to the savory flavor of most meats), but they are by no means doughy! The “bread” part of the name comes from an old English word meaning flesh. The following is a delicious recipe from Cooks.com for sweetbreads and bacon that includes some solid tips for preparing the sweetbread for consumption: Sweetbreads and Bacon.

Tongue

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If you’ve made it this far in the article, then chances are you aren’t going to be grossed out by the concept of eating tongue. In general, beef and veal tongues are the most commonly consumed, with both sharing a grainy, firm texture and a pinkish-grey color.

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Tongue can be stewed, boiled or poached and is often pickled, or served roasted like roast beef. Before final prepping and serving the skin of the tongue is usually removed.

Brain

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Type “eating brain” into a Google search engine and you find far more entries about zombies and brain, and the benefits of eating fish to boost brain power than you do for recipes that include actual brain. If you do dig deep (in a totally non-zombie sense), however, you’ll learn that brain has a delicate, crumbly texture and is popular in dishes from many different parts of the world, including French and Indian cuisine.

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It should be noted, however, that brain can in some cases contain prions, a unique type of protein that has been linked to the development of mad cow disease. If you’re not perturbed by these warnings, check out this simple recipe for scrambled eggs and calf brains.

Tripe

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Saving the best for last? You betcha! Tripe is generally defined as the stomach lining of sheep, goats, pig and deer. In the case of beef, tripe generally only refers to the first three portions of the cows stomach. Sound disgusting? Perhaps. But long ago, the dish was so revered that it was said to have spurred a tiff between between William the Conqueror and Phillip I, the King of France.

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Since there is an obvious “ick” factor associated with eating another being’s stomach, you’ll want to take steps to ensure that the tripe that you eat is thoroughly cleaned. In most cases, a butcher will also remove any extra fat and bleach it for you so that it looks more appetizing, but it will be up to you to boil it so that the lining – the edible part – is fully cooked. Since the lining has somewhat of a rubbery texture, you’ll want to cook it for at least 2-3 hours to make it tender. From there, you can use it in salad, as an ingredient in soups, casseroles or stews, or as a main dish all by itself.

What do you think, readers? Did you grow up on this stuff? Old hat? Or does even the word “tripe” make you queasy? (Or maybe both?) Voice your opinion in the comment board!

t0fugurl, ulterior epicure, stu spivack, Toasty Ken, Nick Bair, perago89, gogogadgetscott, La Blageur a Paris, KitLKat, avlxyz Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

A Visual Guide to Antioxidants

Cheap Meat Round II: “Thrift Cuts”

A Visual Guide to Peppers

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. All of the above are purchased by me and eaten regularly…by my dog. Sorry Mark. Can’t. Not. There. Yet.

    Wendy wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • didn’t know exactly how to care for the kidneys that I just harvested from my bison. found your article right down my alley. And yes, I kept the tongue, heart, liver, and the kidneys. As Andrew Zimmern says………….

      roger epp wrote on March 17th, 2012
      • Kidneys are easy to make… you just cook the piss out of them … :D :)

        drew wrote on September 8th, 2012
        • LOL! :)

          dakotaanddarcy wrote on April 21st, 2014
  2. I am trying… trying.. TRYING to warm up to organ meats. I forced myself to read this entire article… but i am not going to lie… my stomache was turning the whole time.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • haha same here, it seems more nutritious to eat the organs, and what we’d be more adapted to, but when you didn’t grow up doing it it seems a bit nauseating. Reading this wasn’t enough to make my stomach churn, but it made a dent in my appetite

      James wrote on May 14th, 2011
  3. I have a grass fed beef heart in my storage freezer that I’ve been putting off eating for close to 8 months now.

    Any suggestions for how to cook this (maybe a crok pot recipe) in a way that disguises the “ick” factor.

    I’d like to avoid onions too – so that it’s safe to feed it to my girlfriend’s dog if I can’t wrap my head around what I’m eating. I realize my disgust at the idea of organ meats is entirely a cultural thing, and a pretty stupid one at that, but it’s going to take some effort to overcome.

    Chris - fitnessfail.com wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • maybe you could cook it and then puree it into some kinda of a sauce with pasta. prob if you don’t have to chew it, then the ‘ick factor’ diminishes.

      tiffany wrote on March 22nd, 2010
      • lol yeh you could cook it with pasta then spread some flour over it and then have it with some bread and maybe have a glucose “recovery” sports drink with it , mmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

        Paul O'Brien wrote on April 13th, 2010
        • try “Anticuchos de corazon” a peruvian nadional dish. it’s delicious!

          frank wrote on August 8th, 2010
        • My wife and I recently joined a CSA (communitry supported agriculter) farm and I was dared by their butcher to try beef heart. Seeing how she was a female, my male pride would not let me go back the next week, saying I was to scared to try it. My wife and I eat a lot of recipes out of the “Nurishing Traditions” cookbook and she had a great marinade for beef heart, which included olive oil, vinegar, lots of minced garlic, cummin, pepper, salt and some other spices. I marinaded the beef heart for 6 – 7 hours. Then I put together some kabobs with tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini and grilled them on lowish heat for about 20 minutes. To my surprise the texture and flavor was very similar to beef, but I felt it was more similar to venison, dense and lean. With it cubed up it didn’t look so much like heart and was easier to get my mind around. For extra flavor I wrapped some of the beef heart in grass-fed free range bacon strips… hmmmm tastey. The next night was chicken hearts. Give it a shot, you may be surprised.

          Scott wrote on August 12th, 2010
    • Hey there…I had my butcher grind up the cow heart and mix it equally into the ground beef for a couple packages (heart mixed into 1 lb ground beef packages). It is SO easy to disguise in things like chili. My kids never even notice!

      kelly wrote on November 1st, 2010
    • I’m from Michigan, and beef heart is the primary ingredient in our Coney Island hot dog chili. Also, my dad tells me stories of his mom’s stuffed heart recipe. I guess just stuff the ventricles like you would a chicken.

      Alex wrote on March 14th, 2011
    • Make it into Braunschweiger together with ground beef and liver and a few spices.

      Then fry it in butter in a pan like a pan cake…mmmyumm. Eggs go well with this, it’s a good breakfast.

      Suvetar wrote on May 3rd, 2011
    • We prepared veal heart this week in class and we found that the best flavorings to use with heart is herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme. They mask the “offal” taste of the heart so it’s more like a normal cut of meat. I would suggest a very slow braise in beef, dry red wine, some root vegetables, and the herbs i mentioned.

      Amanda wrote on November 9th, 2011
    • Raw. Just add salt, and maybe some freshly ground pepper. I just had some for breakfast today at 430 AM. I’ve been eating raw meat for 12 years, and I love it. I would suggest that you find out about your blood type and make sure that you are able to metabolize animal protein efficiently, though.

      Eberhardt wrote on March 21st, 2012
      • Hi… I’m just beginning to eat raw offal…. I like your simple direct way of eating it. Is it necessary to freeze for 14 days before eating or is this only with liver? Is it truly necessary?
        I want to have it every day tho don’t really have a sense of the general quantity. I eat between 5to 10 duck eggs daily and usually some raw fish and/or raw veg salad. I’ve been thinking of the offal as more of a mineral supplement rather than a protien source. How much and how often do you eat it? What are your experiences? thanks

        julie wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • My mom braised the beef heart I bought. It made a delicious broth, along with the lemongrass, chili, ginger and beef broth she put it in. Apparently they eat it in vietnam, so she made something similar to a stew they eat. I’ve seen recipes for grilled beef heart, but low and slow, it had a nice taste, and sort of chewy texture that I didn’t expect.

      LJ wrote on May 8th, 2012
    • Make a hearty chili!

      Dan wrote on July 30th, 2012
    • Since becoming interested in primal eating, organ meats have been in my sights. Though I’ve got that Western cultural baggage getting in the way, it’s not the main issue…
      The problem for me is smell and texture. I can’t eat steak and kidney pie because the texture of the kidney makes me feel ill. About 20 years ago my dad cooked up some kidney at home, and the stink of piss made me feel ill. A few weeks ago I tried a bit of lamb’s fry and though it was tasty, again the texture was the problem.
      So, clearly, I need to experiment with some ways of preparing organ meats which will disguise the texture. I’ve made it a personal goal to find a few recipes by the end of 2012 which let me get all the goodness of offal into me!

      just_chris wrote on September 15th, 2012
    • I grill duck hearts on the bbq in a coconut oil marinade — Garlic, smoked paprika, smoked chipotles, coarsely ground pepper, and sometimes thyme or rosemary. I always use the marinade to sauce and add grated orange zest just before.

      I read an article that said citrus peel zest showed reduced signs of bad (LDL) cholesterol by up to 40% in a study. Not only does it taste great, but its a double-edged sword. Great nutrients, lower cholesterol. No brainer. Bb

      Ariel wrote on September 5th, 2014
  4. Great post, Mark! I’ve been thinking about writing you for some time regarding the consumption of the “spare parts” of animals. To be “primal,” one should eat lots of such parts, not just tenderloin and choice cuts. Plus, in a diet which promotes an increasing reliance upon the consumption of meats, it is only ethical to consume that which is normally discarded. If we were to all eat just the best parts of an animal, it would (and does) constitute a tremendous amount of waste, as animals, especially ungulates, occupy a high position on the food chain.

    My fiance and I practice a “spare parts” diet to great effect, consuming a fair amount of liver, heart (especially in stocks and soups), and tripe (mainly at ethnic restaurants). I would also add to your list the following:
    – marrow: roasted ox marrow on toast with a parsley/garlic/onion topping is excellent
    – various bones: pork necks, hocks, etc., are all excellent in soups or bean dishes (we’re not fully primal); bones should also be used in stocks — waste not, want not!
    – gizzards and necks: mainly good for sauces and reductions
    – rendered fat: good for general cooking purposes

    Eating offal is simply part of a commitment to living well and ethically. It’s part of paying attention to what, and how, one consumes. I think this post, Mark, along with the previous posts on hunting and so forth, show how a primal lifestyle might converge with a more ethical — and pleasurable! — way of living.

    Zach Simpson wrote on March 19th, 2009
  5. SoG — toughen up, Spartan ;) I hardly ate vegetables as a kid, but I loved my mom’s fresh liver and onions — until I was a teenager, that and lettuce with mayo was the only ‘salad stuff’ I would touch. Or when she cleaned a chicken and would boil the liver and gizzards, and we’d stand over the stove, eating them hot from the pan with a little salt and pepper? Maybe she didn’t manage to teach me French, or how to identify trees and flowers, but if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be the marrow-scraping, stock-making, fat-rendering liver lover I am today! THANKS, MOM!

    damaged justice wrote on March 19th, 2009
  6. When I was a child we often had boiled tongue, it was served with mashed potatoes and peas. It was very good.

    After I got married and my mother-in-law moved into our house, I used to serve this often. It is a tender piece of meat and she had no problems eating tongue with her dentures. My kids loved it also!

    I remember my grandmothe also cooking up sweetbreads and the whole house stunk and could never get passed the smell.

    Helen

    Helen wrote on March 19th, 2009
  7. I’ve got 3 organ meat recipes on the docket for tomorrow everyone, so check back!

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 19th, 2009
  8. I think the best liver to start with is goose, first as foie gras of course. Once I had that, I moved on to whole livers which I ate with sour cherries in Budapest…mmmm. I would strongly strongly recommend readers NOT try to cook offal until they have had it cooked properly by a real chef or someone with knowhow. Authentic Chinese and Mexican restaurants often serve these things. Dealing with the organs is much easier once you know they taste good.

    Melissa wrote on March 19th, 2009
  9. I grew up eating liver and i think it’s pretty good. Season it up and cooked with onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots. Adding whatever you like gives it that extra flavor you want, get creative.

    Donna wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • agree,I love liver I cook it with beacon,Onions. I coat the liver with flower and pan fry it in olive oil and real butter. Crispy. Deer liver is real good too.

      Doug wrote on May 20th, 2011
  10. I also used to make a wonderful chicken pate. I would just boil up some carrots, garlic, when the carrots were done, I would throw in the chicken livers and cook until done. The water needs to seasoned with salt and pepper. When everything was cooked, I would put carrots, garlic, chicken livers, dill weed and one cube butter into the food processor. Make it smooth adding more butter or maybe the saved broth. Check for seasonings. Let cool.

    Of course, you need some wonderful chunky bread to spread this on, so I don’t make it any longer. We are trying to be grain free.

    Helen

    Helen wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • Helen,
      Look for bread made with almond “flour”. I love it and it keeps me grain free. I do only have it on occasion.

      Ludona H. Smith wrote on August 14th, 2013
  11. You left out testicles or (what i overheard my cousin telling her husband a dish was) huevos del toro.

    nonegiven wrote on March 19th, 2009
  12. You left out gizzards (although someone did comment on this!), my all time favorite! I love taking organs and using them for homemade beef/chicken stock – all the parts that would usually go to waste otherwise (for the average Joe). I’m sure Grok savored all of these “cuts”!

    Erica wrote on March 19th, 2009
  13. I love beef liver but don’t have access to grass-fed beef. If I’m not mistaken, the liver is an organ that filters toxins. With all the crap that’s pumped into cows, are their livers any less safe to eat?

    Evan wrote on March 19th, 2009
  14. Yes, nonegiven, Erica. It isn’t meant to be a fully comprehensive guide. There certainly are other organ meats. I’ve just included a select (and most popular) few. Thanks for your additions!

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • Is it natural to be repulsed by the thought of eating organ meats?

      Peter wrote on March 13th, 2012
      • No, it’s cultural, not “natural.”

        PH wrote on June 25th, 2014
  15. Grok says is myth offal is primal.

    You farmers eat that crap because you are so desperate for animal protein and fat you will eat anything.

    Grok only eat: bone marrow (yum!), fat deposits and fatty meat (including fatty brain, but most animals have tiny brains!), maybe liver (some animals only), and maybe tongue.

    Grok leave rest of animal on the ground where it belongs.

    Modern day hunter-gatherers, living in your farmer’s world, have to eat whatever they can get, since they usually only kill little animals.

    But in my day we kill big animals! Eat only good parts.

    So no, you don’t need to eat this crap. Contain no vitamins or minerals not found in good tasting fats.

    In case you doubt Grok’s word you should consider what the Inuit eat. Very few Inuit eat offal. Most feed it to their dogs. Plains Indians of 19th Century and before ate nothing but buffalo – and discarded everything but tasty fats and fatty meat. Never ate offal!

    Grok wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • You should look for a youngster whose last name is Minger. She’s done lots of research on eating offal and even if the inuits don’t indulge there are incredible health reasons to include it in out diet.
      She has a U Tube presentation online you should try to find. Way worth it.
      It’s what sent me here.
      Lu

      Ludona H. Smith wrote on August 14th, 2013
  16. LOVE your articles and I’ve learned so much from MDA! But, today’s post, hmm….it left me thinking EW!! I’m sticking with my tenderloin, nice and pretty – the thought of tripe is a Fear Factor Event for me!

    Beth wrote on March 19th, 2009
  17. How can anyone not love perfectly cooked grilled beef liver and onions? My husband can’t even stand the smell, so my son and I have it for lunch once a week while he’s at work.

    dragonmamma wrote on March 19th, 2009
  18. I had some Lamb’s lung the other day. It’s a bit rubbery and insubstantial, but tastes quite a lot like liver. Certainly edible. I fried it in coconut oil with onion.

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on March 19th, 2009
  19. I am so close to passing out…some of us were just meant to eat tofu!! Mark, I think I’m going to have to take the heart (no pun intended)of your message on this site… and leave the meat!!!!

    Milemom wrote on March 19th, 2009
  20. Beef tongue and heart are actually VERY tasty when prepared correctly.

    I recommend pressure cooking first so that they become very tender. After cleaning it up and shredding it, you won’t even be able to tell that you’re not eating a normal roast. Then you can either make a sauce and eat as a roast, or make tongue chili, omelets, etc.

    Adam wrote on March 19th, 2009
  21. Having eaten all of those except for brain, I actually find liver to be my least favourite.

    For those wishing to cook heart, a beef bourguignon with lots of bacon, mushrooms, and red wine makes a superb dish.

    There are excellent recipes for a taiwanese stomach salad with green onions, chilis and a vinaigrette, it really is crunchy and pleasant.

    Tongue is excellent when sliced quite thin and briefly marinated in lemon juice; or garlic, vinegar, and soysace; or even balsamic vinegar and then briefly grilled. It’s really really delicious, and you will not notice you are eating tongue.

    hugh wrote on March 19th, 2009
  22. May I just take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the title of this post? :)

    One question, not really nutrition related: why is the phrase “chopped liver” used to designate someone who is insignificant?

    Merry wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • Chopped liver was traditionally a side dish, so if you say, “what am I, chopped liver?!” you mean to align yourself with the less important mealtime offering, forgotten and overshadowed by the main dish. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s the etymology.

      Calvin wrote on December 4th, 2010
  23. It’s all BLECH to me, but I’ve lived many years off and on in China and Hong Kong, where all of these dishes are eaten regularly — weekly, even. Tripe is often hanging from restaurant windows. They also eat lots of noodles and rice in China, of course. In fact, they eat just about everything edible.

    Laura wrote on March 19th, 2009
  24. We recently tried to feed beef tripe to our primal-eating dog, and I must confess: I vomited. It smelled SOOOO bad. I opened all the windows, burned 2 tons of incense, and it STILL smelled so nasty the following morning that a friend came into the house and asked “what’s that smell?”

    As for eating organs myself, I find that ground heart & tongue & liver are easily disguised when mixed with ground beef in a marinara sauce. You can’t taste them or feel them. If I hadn’t made the meal myself, I wouldn’t even know they were there!

    FoodRenegade wrote on March 19th, 2009
  25. I tried liver once and didn’t like it, but I just sauteed it in olive oil. Maybe if I had a good recipe… From what I’ve read it does have a lot to offer, nutritionally, so I’m open to eating the offal stuff, but I gotta admit, when I drive home from work across the ranch and see all those cattle grazing on the nice Oregon pasture, I just think, how many NEW YORK STEAKs are out there?!

    Danielle T wrote on March 19th, 2009
  26. I’ll just quickly summarize my take home notes so that I can remember them:

    -choose paler liver
    -choose deep reddish kidney/heart
    -pinkish gray tongue

    I love brain and tongue!

    My question – any suggestions for picking out good brain?

    Yavor

    Yavor | Relative Strength Advantage wrote on March 20th, 2009
  27. Oh please, NO! Forgive me but I stopped at the liver. I’m still trying to recover from the liver & onions meals that were forced on me as a child. It’s child abuse, I say! Ahhhhh!

    Yum Yucky wrote on March 20th, 2009
  28. Beef tongue and heart are actually VERY tasty when prepared correctly – ADAM, YES, I AGREE WITH YOU!

    ERICA, I like chicken gizzards, too!

    Bon’ Appetite’ to some of you, and the rest of you, NOT so Bon’!!

    Donna wrote on March 20th, 2009
  29. I’ve cooked grass fed beef liver before. Probably over cooked it a little but it was decent. Had a bunch of liver dishes in Italy, along with some stuff I didn’t know what it was. This post is good and hopefully the recipes will include one for tongue. I have to cook this stuff when my wife’s out of town. No way she’s trying it. Pain enough in Italy to get her to try my dishes.

    So when I get back from Vegas a couple days before her, I think I’ll try tongue. I know you can get it near by. Also have to check the the meat store for other cuts.

    I think trying them first in a restaurant is a great suggestion. That how I do it. Especially your better restaurants.

    Joe Matasic wrote on March 20th, 2009
  30. I haven’t tried nearly everything on that list, but sweetbreads for me are totally where it’s at for #1. They are unspeakably delicious. A few years ago in Montreal, I had venison sweetbreads for a Thanksgiving dinner, which were out of this world. Far more delicate and interesting than most liver preparations (save better fois gras).

    I think delving into heart and tongue will probably happen this year…

    Andy wrote on March 20th, 2009
    • Organ meats all of them were also eaten raw by some primal people and never made it back to the lodge. My children and I and my ancestors before me have been eating and cooking organ meats of all kinds for centuries. Souse, headcheese are two more ways to include organ meats in the diet. Today my mate and I fight over who gets first dibs on smaller organs like poultry livers/hearts, and kidneys are cooked up in pot pies and honestly you can’t tell the difference between “processed meat cubes” found in commercially prepared pot pies and the small slivers of kidneys I put in mine. Around here we waste nothing, ever. Marrow is rendered for the fats, bones pressure cooked into meal for what ever needs it more, animals, soil or people. Since we know what goes into our animals we know our critters are healthy and chemical free. So sad that our society has opted to throw away so many things not to mention that many of the “undesirable” by-products are eventually shipped off to pet food companies and turned into animal feed for everything from grazers to meat eaters IE: cattle, swine, cats, dogs, fish etc.
      Tongue has so many uses that it should be a staple and not discarded. Sandwiches, main dishes, jerky you name it once boiled and separated it has as many uses as ground meats.
      Sara

      Sara wrote on May 22nd, 2011
      • Great post Sara, very refreshing to read. Educational, too. Thank you. I wasn’t familiar with the terms headcheese & souse, so I looked them up. We call headcheese brawn here in the UK, and very nice it is too, if you can find it. Where do you live Sara? May I know your ethnicity? Thanks again for posting.

        Highest regards to all,

        Steve

        Steve wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  31. We eat grassfed liver every week (had some last night!) and we are able to get whole hearts from the same local grassfed farm, but we haven’t made anything with a whole one yet. We have made chili with some ground beefheart we are able to find at a local natural foods store (it’s ‘natural’, not grassfed unfortunately). The chili is wonderful!

    Charly wrote on March 20th, 2009
  32. Bleck! Can’t do it! My dog is on a raw food diet and it still makes me queezy! :-) She eats tripe… and it smells AWFUL!

    Patricia wrote on March 20th, 2009
  33. Keep in mind that primal man would probably have only eaten one animal at a time. In other words, one heart, one liver, etc. would have been shared among three, four or more hunters – or maybe the elder would get the heart, etc. But the point is that primal man wasn’t eating a big plate of a half a dozen chicken livers every day, far from it.

    GlennW wrote on March 20th, 2009
  34. I agree with you – organ meats can be most yummy indeed! We always get spicy intestines and beef stomach at the local chinese restaurant (and yes, my dogs love organ meat as well).

    Great article!

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach wrote on March 20th, 2009
  35. Tripe is a definite YEUCH!!! it’s the texture.

    However I drool for liver (fried and then broiled) with bacon and runner beans.

    Also steak and kidney pie without the pie, and sometimes without the steak (I use venison) seared in olive oil with mushrooms also fried in the same oil followed by some coloured peppers and garlic, then casseroled in red wine with a few bay leaves and black pepper.

    Worth warning though that these may induce gout. This happens to mother which is why I can’t eat them any more. :(

    Trinkwasser wrote on March 20th, 2009
  36. Great post Mark! I love organ meats. I eat about a pound of liver each week and try to work heart (either ground or whole) and tongue into my rotation as well…in fact, I have a whole heart and a tongue in my freezer that need some eatin’!

    I’ve had sweetbreads at a local Argentinian restaurant and loved it. Had the consistency of chicken. Unfortunately, I can’t find anybody that will sell me sweetbreads or tripe. Brain is the only one I won’t eat because of the risks you mentioned.

    I’m actually doing a cooking demo of liver and kidneys for my local co-op tomorrow. Good times!

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Life Spotlight

    Scott Kustes - Life Spotlight wrote on March 20th, 2009
  37. Hi Mark, this is my first post although I subscribe to your RSS.

    As a American-Mexican or the other way around who cares, my grandmother would make sweetbreads, she would make them with a green chile sauce and I remember they were delicious, I obviously did not know what they were or as a child I would’ve probably rejected them.
    And you should know that tripe is a sunday ritual in Most Mexican families, It is served in Menudo. It is a soup that has red chile, and hominy. delicious, Have you ever had cow head? it’s strong.

    Luis wrote on March 20th, 2009
  38. Ive had tripe in tacos and I liked it!

    I like foie and chicken liver, but what do I do with a beef liver?!

    Kidney… ? Im out on that one.

    Brain… HELL NO! Prions are scary, and incurable. You wont know you have them for years possibly. Sorry, too risky. My Mex friend refuses to eat boiled cows head her family cooks b/c of the brain/prion issue.

    Tara wrote on March 20th, 2009
    • I actually work in a Prion Research Centre up here in Canada, I have to say you’re pretty safe as far as prion go if you simply get to know your local farmer and make sure he’s looking after his herd closely. No one notices the tell-tale signs in cattle on large commercial farms, but a small farmer with 50 head? He’s going to notice when his animals are looking off and pull it from the food supply.
      My suggestion is that if you really want to try brains, go to a smaller farm well away from commercial operations.
      (As well, there were hardly any cattle that got infected over here in North America, your chances of infection are smaller than winning the Powerball)

      Jasmine wrote on March 8th, 2011
  39. Just cook heart like a roast–it just tastes like roast beef. That’s the easiest way to eat offal. I’ve gotten used to liver, which is amazing since I hated it as a kid worse than anything. I do have a cow tongue in the freezer that I’m trying to get my nerve up for–I think it’s the idea of it.

    Bill wrote on March 20th, 2009
    • Growing up, my mom would cook heart like a beef roast with gravy. We would only have it once a year as my dad got it from a farmer. Very good.

      Sue wrote on July 2nd, 2010
    • Braise the tongue and cook it for six to eight hours at about 325 degrees F. Then take two forks to it and shred it. Then you can do anything with it. I just made curry with mine. Best curry sauce I’ve made to date btw. Once it’s shredded it’s no longer recognizable as tongue and it is like the best roast beef you’ve ever had. I had my gf poke it with a fork because I couldn’t describe how tender it was. Then I made her try it!

      Qommon wrote on February 29th, 2012
  40. Bill, boil that tongue with an onion and a few ribs of celery for a couple hours. Here’s a tongue recipe I’ve used with success several times.

    It’ll be the most tender roast you’ve ever eaten. You just have to get past the fact that it’s covered in taste buds (which you should cut off!). Slice it like a roast, peel off the outer layer, and prepare to eat an amazingly juicy piece of meat.

    Unfortunately, heart and tongue pale in comparison to the health attributes of liver.

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Life Spotlight

    Scott Kustes - Life Spotlight wrote on March 20th, 2009

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