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

Tails, Tendons and Tripe: A Guide to Discovering the Odd Bits

chickenfeet 1Put down your rib-eyes, don’t thaw those chicken legs just yet, and step away from the pot roast. Don’t get me wrong – those are fine examples of animal muscle meat. Delicious, even. But they’re not all that we should be eating. Not by a long shot. Allow me to explain.

The other day, I received an enthusiastic email from a reader who’d just returned home from the grocery store with a sack of smoked turkey tails. Thanks to a little holiday called Thanksgiving, meat counters across the country are inundated with turkey parts: gizzards, livers, hearts, necks, backs, and tails. Most consumers rarely think of using turkey other than as a “healthy” replacement for ground beef or during Thanksgiving. But not our reader. No, he filled his freezer with smoked turkey tails and the whole experience apparently inspired him, because he wrote to tell me that maybe if I wrote a post extolling the benefits of all the “odd bits” of the animals you eat, other readers would also discover a whole new culinary world.

I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing. I already make bone broth regularly and eat liver on occasion. And I may pick up some “strange” things if I come across them (say, a lamb kidney, or beef heart). I usually thoroughly enjoy it all, too. But offal isn’t usually at the top of my shopping list. If we truly want to eat nose to tail, though – and we should, you know – we have to branch out. We have to delve deeply. We have to get creative. Our wallets, our taste buds, and our bodies will thank us.

So I went out and spent a couple days hunting down odd parts at the farmers’ market, the Asian supermarket, and my other sources. Here’s what I found:

Heads

heads 1

Ever since the Mad Cow Disease scare, heads of ruminants are hard to come by. I’ve asked many a farmer for a cow head on many an occasion, but I’ve always been rejected. It’s sad, but I guess I understand. Luckily, I managed to dig up a pastured goat head for a mere dollar per pound. This particular head ran me two bucks, and while its meat content is pretty scant when compared to a cow or pig head, it’s still a head, and that’s what I came for.

Goats aren’t geniuses, but they do have brains. Split open that head, scoop out the brain, and make like an ancestral hominid and cook it up. Okay, while our ancestors probably weren’t stir-frying their brain in garam masala and turmeric, they were eating it. Brain is a rich source of omega-3s, especially pastured brain, and it’s likely that landlocked hunter-gatherers satisfied some of their omega-3 requirements through brain. If you don’t want to bother splitting skulls, why not make some broth out of your head? Throw it in a pot, cover it with water, and toss in some spices, herbs, and a bit of vinegar. Turn it into head cheese (that’s what I’m doing) if you prefer, or just make some soup. Once the meat is tender enough, remove it from the skull to avoid overcooking.

I also picked up a couple fish heads – halibut and salmon. Three and a half pounds worth for $10. I’ve gotten these before, and my favorite thing to do is apply a light dusting of salt and pepper, rub some olive oil all over, and pop in the oven at around 350 degrees for just under twenty minutes. That’s enough to crisp the skin without drying out the meat or burning the fat. Once it’s done, go to town on it. The cheek is the best part, but use your hands to access the interior and keep a lot of napkins handy. You’re going to make a pretty big mess if you want to get everything. It should go without saying that these contain omega-3s, but there should also be a big dose of fat soluble vitamins, selenium, iodine, and other minerals found in ocean water. You could also make fish head soup, of course. If you want to make soup, have the heads cut at the butcher.

Feet

feet 1 1

People find feet gross, for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re in constant contact with the ground, and the ground is definitely not sterile. I guess I see where they’re coming from, but I look at feet differently. I like the fact that feet are what the animal uses to get around, because that means the feet bear all the weight. And any body part that has to handle a lot of force – like the foot – tends to have a lot of collagen, cartilage, and other connective tissue to deal with all that stress. That’s why feet make the best stock. Chicken feet, pig feet, beef feet – they’re all incredibly gelatinous and when you cover them with water and apply heat for 24-48 hours, amazing stuff happens. There is very little meat, so soup/broth/stock is the best option here. Dim sum joints serve fried and braised chicken feet, so I suppose you could play around with that dish. Now that I think of it, a chicken foot braised to the point of disintegration would be really good.

I got pig, beef, and chicken feet for $0.99/lb, $1.29/lb, and $1.99/lb respectively. I’m going to make some stock so rich and so thick that you could sleep quite comfortably on a bed made of it. I suggest you do the same. I kept the beef and pig feet intact for the photo’s sake, but if you get any sort of large animal foot from the butcher, have them cut it up to make the stock-making easier.

Tails

bettertails 1

As you can see, the bison tail (which is very similar to beef oxtail, really) is meaty and massive, while the pig’s tail is quite small (and unfortunately not curly). Both are super-gelatinous and both make excellent broth. Both tails have a fair bit of meat on them, so I’d recommend a braise or a crockpot recipe where the meat is featured prominently. Don’t just treat the tails like broth bones. They’ll make a fine, rich stock, sure, but there’s also some good eating to be had. Cook ‘em long and slow and let them cool a little bit before you plunge in.

I picked up a box of pastured bison tails for $2.90 a pound and a few pork tails for a dollar per pound. The bison tails were whole, so I had to cut them up myself. Cutting a big bison tail without professional equipment requires getting in between the vertebrae. Use your fingers to find the joints and go from there.

Stomach

pigstomach 1

While your first inclination may be to retch at the idea of eating a pig’s stomach, I like to call it the Primal crockpot (or, alternately, the Foolproof Sausage Casing). It’s tender, rich, mild, and assumes other flavors really well. Most cooks usually use stomach as an encasing for ground up meat and vegetables. Since what stomachs do in the wild is hold food, it’s an obvious way to cook with it, but another option is to boil and chop it. You could eat the boiled stomach as is (or in soup), or you could dry it off, toss it in spices and fat, and roast/saute it until browned and crispy. I recommend something spicy and sour, maybe a cumin-chili-lime-olive oil spice mix, or even a turmeric-chili-vinegar-coconut oil one.

Stomach isn’t a nutritional powerhouse on par with liver or kidney – it’s mostly fat and protein with a nice dose of selenium – but it’s cheap, it’s tasty, and you can fill it up with other foods (think massive rotund sausage). I paid $1 per pound for mine.

Spleen

porkspleen 1

Spleen is sometimes called a poor man’s liver. It tastes a bit like it, but not as strong. It kinda looks like it, but not when you look closely. It’s high in iron, copper, selenium, and vitamin B12. It’s more delicate than liver with none of the retinol.

I got pork spleen, also called pork melt, for a couple bucks per pound.

 

Tendon

beeftendon 1

When most people want real broth, they turn to bones. I mean, bone broth is great. It’s alliterative, for one. It makes your house smell good (or terrible, depending on whom you ask), and it is filling on a cold day in a way that only meaty liquid can be. But if you’re a true rich broth fiend, if you’re a devout Ray Peat-ian, if you’re all about the gelatin – you had better go out and procure yourself some beef tendons. A tendon is a prime piece of connective tissue designed to hold muscle to bone and withstand all the crazy tension and force and stress that such a relationship inevitably entails. Thus, it is pure collagen, which means good things for your broth. Of course, it’s just collagen without the bone, so the broth won’t have that boney meatiness, but if you add a few bones to the mix you’ll get the best of both worlds. Tendons are basically fat-free, but a well-cooked tendon gives a mouthfeel similar to good pork belly. Good braised, good in soups.

Beef tendon ran $2.99 a pound. I got two large tendons for $4.

Tripe

moretripe 1

Tripe is (usually beef) stomach lining. Of course, cows have several stomachs, so there are several types of tripe. I bought book tripe, which comes from the third compartment in a cow’s digestive system – the omasum. As you can see, it’s white, but that’s only because to prepare it for human consumption, tripe is thoroughly cleaned. Uncleaned tripe is intense stuff. Dogs love it, it smells like a barn, it’s green thanks to all the partially digested plant matter, and because it’s literally a cow’s gut, it’s a good source of probiotic bacteria. I almost wish it was palatable in its uncleaned state, because it’s supposed to be a nutritional powerhouse. Cleaned tripe is very mild. Its fibrous texture demands long, slow cooking and it goes well with spicy soups (a lot of tripe is used in Southeast Asian and Mexican cuisine). High in protein with a good amount of calcium.

A little over a pound of tripe cost me $3.75.

Blood

pigblood 1

Blood is scary. Too much of it in the room at once means someone’s hurt, usually seriously. It’s red, really red. But countless cultures across history have used (and still use) blood in their cooking. Okay, so what does one do with blood? If you’re Maasai, maybe you drink it raw. If you’re an ancient Spartan, you make melas zomos, the “black soup.” If you’re a cured meat artisan, you’d probably make blood sausage. Cubed fully coagulated pork blood is often used in Southeast Asian cooking. One of my favorite soups from a local Hollywood Thai restaurant uses pork blood cubes. The texture makes it feel like blood tofu.

The blood I bought came from a pig and cost $2 a pound. When you buy blood from the meat counter, it’s already partially coagulated. This makes for easy handling, as you’re not dealing with a pure liquid. When it’s coagulated, you can pick it up and it stays relatively solid. Coagulated blood is incredibly fragile, though, and it’ll break apart at a moment’s notice. Nutritionally, there’s not a lot of available information. It’s definitely going to be high in iron, and it has a fair amount of protein, while according to this source (which references lamb blood), it’s quite low in fat and carbs. I plan on trying blood cubes in a homemade coconut milk soup (from Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals). If you want to cook with blood without it fully coagulating, add vinegar.

Trim

beeftrim 1

After the butcher removes the steaks, the roasts, the burger meat, the ribs, the loin, and every other cut that enjoys name recognition, he’s left with scraps of meat attached to the animal carcass. Of course, if you’re dealing with an animal as big as a cow, those “scraps” are actually quite substantial. Enter beef trim. The beef trim I purchased came in three oddly shaped slabs of good, deep-red grass-fed beef. They weren’t steaks, and they weren’t roasts, and the angles were all weird, but these were solid cohesive pieces of meat that could easily be cut up for stews, soups, ground into ground beef, or even made into jerky. It’s only trim because it wouldn’t look pretty in a display case. Other than that, it’s great meat at a great price.

I paid $3.50 a pound for grass-fed organic beef trim.

Well, that’s my haul. Between all of that, the “regular” parts described in my offal post from way back, and the post showing how to get this stuff into your diet, I’d say you have plenty of material to work with.

The beauty of buying all the odd bits is trifold. First, you’re getting a wider range of vital micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and connective tissues that just don’t exist in large amounts in regular muscle meat. Second, it’s an affordable way to get your hands on high-quality, pastured animal products. You think you could ever find grass-fed, pastured muscle meat for a few dollars per pound? No way. And third, you are personally seeing to it that the animal in question does not go to waste. It’s not turned into poor quality pet food, nor is it discarded. It is utilized and enjoyed by a person that truly appreciates it.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What are your favorite odd bits? Are there any parts you’ve been dying to try, but haven’t found the courage to go out and find? Well, consider this post a challenge. Go branch out. Eat some weird stuff. It’s good for you and it’s delicious to boot. Make it so that it’s no longer weird, it’s no longer a special occasion, but just something you eat.

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. This is one of my resolutions for 2012 – eating more offal! I’m always put off, but it’s so good for you, so I must try it.

    Suz @ PaleoConnect wrote on December 20th, 2011
  2. Great post, Mark! In terms of nutrition, most of these odds and ends are a great bang for your buck.

    … But drinking blood might take a few more Twilight viewings for me.

    Abel James wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • I’d rather drink blood by the gallon than watch Twilight.

      Dan wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • Hahahahaha… I second that.

        Erik wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • True! Especially as blood is awesome. It took my butcher a couple of weeks to get used to the fact that I ask him to save the blood for me, (I swear he still inches away a few steps when he sees me. Poor guy.) But that’s just me, I have a taste for irony things. :-)

        Milla wrote on December 21st, 2011
  3. love you, mark, love the columns (always!), but that’s not the right way to use the word ‘extolling.’ the word ‘encouraging’ fits much better.

    jakey wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Only in your opinion, in mine Mark chose the perfect word to convey his meaning. “Extolling the virtues,” “extolling the benefits,” same difference.

      From Online Etymology Dictionary “extol
      also extoll, c.1400, “to lift up,” from L. extollere “to place on high, raise, elevate,” figuratively “to exalt, praise,” from ex- “up” (see ex-) + tollere “to raise,…”

      Go grammar troll somewhere else.

      conrack wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • he edited it to read properly as you’ve quoted! i’m touched that i made a difference.

        and piss off to you too, dear :)

        jakey wrote on December 21st, 2011
    • Yeah, no.

      Better to be silent and thought a fool…

      Uncephalized wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Um… “extol” and “encourage” mean two completely separate things, and Mark’s original usage of the former is completely valid. He “extols” (sings the praise of) something, thereby “encouraging” it in others.

      unchatenfrance wrote on December 20th, 2011
  4. LOL I totally recognize Marin Sun Farm’s sticker on that beef trim bag. Represent!

    I have been fascinated by offal cuts and have been slowing delving into them (I have two full oxtails in my freezer as we speak) And yeah, I second that they are super cheap in price and open you up to a wide new range of recipes.

    Also I love the face people make when I tell them what sort of animal parts ive been cooking lately. Its even better when I, say, bring some oxtail stew to work and people can see me gnawing gently on the bone trying to get out all the little fiddly bits of meat.

    cTo wrote on December 20th, 2011
  5. That black soup sounds pretty damn manly to me – it shall be made soon!

    Nekron wrote on December 20th, 2011
  6. I see now why he is the Primal Master. That’s more than a bridge too far for me.

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on December 20th, 2011
  7. We should eat more of this stuff… I think America is pretty much the only country that refuses to eat any sort of offal. Unfortunately, I’ve tried liver several times and I cannot possibly force myself to like it haha

    Burn wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • You can make other things out of liver besides eating it just like it is.

      Mix heart, liver or any other offal with hamburger meat, spice it up with salt and black pepper and make small patties out of it.

      Fry them up in butter in the morning to go with eggs.

      Arty wrote on December 20th, 2011
  8. Just forwarded this to several people. This did however make me feel kinda of tame and unadventurous for have a plain pot of bone broth boiling on my kitchen stove… Oh well, something new to strive for.

    samui_sakana wrote on December 20th, 2011
  9. Any ideas for a person who wants to love liver and offal? My first foray was a disaster and I feel like I’m going to dislike offal my whole life….but i dont want to (if that makes any sense) Recommendation: for those of you trying chicken livers for the first time, dont make it yourself. After I spent almost an hour trying to get the little membrane off a pound of those things my hands were covered in chicken blood and I felt like a poultry Dexter. And then when I tried to eat it in a pate (it even had bacon in it!) all i could taste was the blood…ugh. Tripe also was a nasty thing for me…the texture got to me. I want to try marrow very badly. Any ideas on the liver front? They are so cheap and so good for you i just need a way to eat them!

    Maureen wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Use bone marrow instead of butter or lard to cook your meals in. Low heat.

      Put liver (10%), pork muscle meat (main bulk) and pork fat (20-30%) into a blender or food processor and make a hamburger texture…spice it up with salt and pepper and fry in butter. Goes well with eggs.

      Soak livers in milk for 30 minutes or longer to get rid of the ‘livery’ taste.

      Bone marrow bits are awesome in soups.

      Cold, raw heart salad:
      cut heart into small pieces, use mixture of 3 tbs of oil/3 tbs of vinegar/ 3 cups of water/ 1 teaspoon of salt…and pour it over the heart pieces, making sure they’re all covered.
      Let stand for a couple hours or longer until heart turns color.
      Take heart out (don’t rinse, only let drip), chop up onion and sprinkle over soaked heart pieces…Done. Add black pepper for taste.

      Arty wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • Great stuff. I also made a compound butter with roasted marrow and rosemary that was super-rich. Put some of that on your next steak and enjoy!

        Finnegans Wake wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • I make calves liver, sliced as thin as you possibly can (crosswise–think that’s how you describe it, against the grain. I tried slicing it like chicken breast fillets and it came out tough). I saute thinly sliced onions in a ton of ghee, take that off the flame when they turn golden, add the sliced liver to the pan and cook until it browns around the edges, throw the onions back in and swirl everything around to blend the flavors, then serve. My eight year old son scarfed it down last night! Now that’s a miracle!

        Tracy wrote on December 21st, 2011
    • Broil the liver in a slotted tray or on a skewer with a pan underneath. The blood will drip out, and your pate will not taste like blood. I know this works because I keep kosher and we’re not allowed to eat the blood.

      I don’t know what membrane you are talking about–the butcher must remove it because I’ve never seen that before. You should ask your butcher if he can remove the membrane (if it needs to be removed at all).

      Abby wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Split a couple jalapenos. Cut your liver into chunks that will fit into the jalapenos (remove large pieces of membrane, smaller bits don’t worry about), wrap in bacon. Grill or throw under the broiler until the bacon is just crispy. Enjoy.

      I don’t get why liver is usually served with onions, in general I find it much tastier served with chiles.

      I hear you on the tripe though, I just can’t get over the texture.

      jj wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • Holy cow…this sounds AMAZING. I’ve been tinkering with chicken liver pate, but it’s a bit of a pain since I feel like I have to make grain-free crackers to go with it. (Not sure how else to eat it, except maybe stuffed into celery like PB?) But stuffed into jalapenos and wrapped in bacon? I think we have a winner!

        Amy B. wrote on December 21st, 2011
        • Seriously, I serve liver like that at BBQs and even people who think they don’t like liver love it.

          jj wrote on December 22nd, 2011
    • I agree about not removing the membrane with chicken livers – just chop them and sautee them on a low heat with a bit of red wine or balsamic vinegar. I find that having bacon with them, while tasty, sometimes makes the whole thing too rich and salty.

      If you don’t like to eat it in lumps, then you can puree it after it has been cooked and use it as a pate. Mmmmmm.

      homehandymum wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Pate… pate is the only way to eat liver. Not hard to make and stores well. Cooked liver I cant do, but pate all day!

      al wrote on December 22nd, 2011
    • My liver recipe (1 portion):

      150g bacon, chopped
      200g liver, chopped
      1/2 lemon
      1/3 dl water
      1/2 teaspoon mustard
      salt to taste

      Fry the bacon, then turn down the heat and add water. When the water has settled, add the liver. Slice the lemon, and juice the top into the pan. Add the mustard. Peel the lemon slices, and chop them. Once the meat looks ready, add the lemon bits and serve.

      Sofie wrote on December 24th, 2011
    • Don’t over cook the liver too much, fast and quick so it’s still pink. think of doing a minute steak ‘rare’. Devilled kidneys, an old English recipe is nice, it uses butter (not strictly paleo) and chilli and is very luxurious.

      Jon wrote on March 4th, 2013
  10. Oh man… I wish I ate all this “wonderful” food… not fight now… but, perhaps down the road…

    Primal Toad wrote on December 20th, 2011
  11. Pigs feet cooked in a crock pot until the cartilage is soft is very tasty, but also very sticky.

    Also cow boiled cow tongue. You have never had a more tender, more fatty cut of roast beef!

    toaster for sale wrote on December 20th, 2011
  12. Oh and also, DO spend the extra money to procure GRASS FED beef liver. The difference in flavor is like day and night. Grass fed beef liver is very sweet and mild compared to conventional.

    All this talk is making me hungry!

    toaster for sale wrote on December 20th, 2011
  13. I always ask the guys at the whole foods meat counter if they have anything “weird” in the back. They usually do and seem quite amused by the fact someone wants to buy it. I’d love to try feet

    ryan wrote on December 20th, 2011
  14. Serious Eats has a regular column titled “The Nasty Bits” that deals primarily with cooking offal. It’s got some pretty great recipes, though they may need alteration to be primal/paleo sometimes.

    Michael C wrote on December 20th, 2011
  15. OMG what a timing!
    I just got half a cow, ALL organs, including head for eyeballs and brain and gallons of blood !!!!

    The blood soup we made out of the blood was freakin delicious! Made with bone broth of course, out of bones from the same cow and lots of tendons, cut up into tiny pieces and thrown into the same soup.

    What I don’t see on here are glands…we’re making some casserole out of spleen, thyroid, salivary, thymus and pancreas, gonna be awesome.

    Arty wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • “thymus”

      Thymus, a.k.a. sweetbreads, are easy, meltingly tender and soo delicious. They’re the offal for people who hate offal. Start with sweetbreads if you’re new to offal. Poach them in stock, let them cool, the sear them quickly in hot butter for a nice crust. Serve with snowpeas for textural contrast. Plate and eat immediately while piping hot.

      moreporkplease wrote on December 20th, 2011
  16. I absolutely love braised oxtail. This one is not a stretch at all for me– it comes out more like beef ribs. And then of course the bones are great for making stock with afterwards. One I’ve been wanting to try is ox tongue. I haven’t known anyone who has cooked it… Please chime in if you have experience with it!

    Ariana wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • I would assume it’s a lot like cow’s tongue. We just boil it for hours (2-3 usually). Peel off the outer layer and eat. It is incredibly tender and so worth the wait.

      Happycyclegirl wrote on December 20th, 2011
  17. I just found a Hungarian cookbook from the 1960s which uses all sorts of offal in the recipes. I had to ask someone what “pork lights” were. Turns out it is lung.

    Happycyclegirl wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Lung is delicious too.
      It has the texture of mushrooms, and almost tastes like champions when gently fried in butter.
      So far I’ve only had rabbit and cow lung, would love to try pork lung.

      Arty wrote on December 20th, 2011
  18. This is one of your best articles yet. I find it interesting that many people just go for the muscle meat instead of the organs or bones.

    This is where all the real minerals and action are. The peasants used to get just the muscle meat and the kings would dine on the organs.

    How things have changed!

    Justin wrote on December 20th, 2011
  19. I really don’t want my secret to get out. My grass fed farmer friend charges about $7/lbs for chuck roast while the odd bits go for $2-3/lb.

    Dan wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • I just paid $1.50 for each pound of ‘weird’ stuff, all organs, head, bones, brain, eyeballs, thyroid, heart, kidney, liver, thymus, pancreas, fresh blood, lung, etc…

      My freezer is filled with weird stuff, I’m super happy.

      Arty wrote on December 20th, 2011
  20. I take the shortcut and eat scrapple when I can.

    Moshen wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Doesn’t scrapple have cormeal in it? otherwise delicious stuff, was a big treat in our house when I was growing up.

      Kevin wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • I think it’s buckwheat, but you’re right. Going back to PA this week, will definitely be a treat.

        Moshen wrote on December 20th, 2011
  21. Great article and who doesn’t enjoy a nice piece of trim?

    Mike Powers wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • LOL!

      Finnegans Wake wrote on December 21st, 2011
  22. When I was a kid, my Mom used to fix tongue, tripe (the stomach lining) and brains. Mom and Dad obviously didn’t have trouble eating it but I couldn’t stand it, and now that I’m 67 years old I still can’t — sorry.

    Maybe some day or maybe I’m just not hungry enough. Eating the entire animal – including all parts and pieces -stemmed from raising it themselves to not having a whole lot of money and making sure absolutely nothing went to waste. (Waste not, want not.)

    My Latino friends make menudo with lots of “tripa” – tripe in it. I can handle it sometimes if I cut it up in little pieces, don’t look and swallow it whole.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on December 20th, 2011
  23. I’m just slowly adventuring back into offal. Our family hunted when I was a kid, and we often had odd bits of meat (moose liver sausages, fried quail hearts, dear heart)

    I lived in Tunisia for half a year way back in 2002. That was a very food-adventurous time of my life. For Eid, the family I was living with did the customary sheep slaughter. I watched that sheep go from completely alive, to sliced to pieces on the backyard hibachi in a matter of minutes. Very primal, very informative. I ate sheep testicle that day – guest of honour and all, how could I say no. Taste wasn’t too bad, and the texture was non-fibrous, like liver. There was not a tiny bit of that animal that was not used over the next few days.

    Another interesting thing there. You could go to a nice restaurant, and order “1/2 sheep’s head”. It came just as it sounds, sliced down the middle, brains still inside, eye ball, cheeks, teeth, skin and fur all there. And surprisingly, quite popular. Sheep brain tagine (sort of like a quiche) was also a regular thing we ate at home for dinner. Beef heads (entire heads) were displayed in butcher’s windows in the market.

    I’ve not been quite so adventurous since I’ve been back in Canada. Perhaps it’s time to start again.

    Serah wrote on December 20th, 2011
  24. I was reading along when suddenly my hairs stood on end, why not make broth out of your head? you wrote. I thought I’d accidentally stumbled across a snide vegan blog while looking for Paleo recipes!

    Cat wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Cal, You really did make me laugh out loud.

      Sharon wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • Oh sorry, can’t read, Cat

        Sharon wrote on December 20th, 2011
  25. Some of our Mexican restaurants serve up beef parts:
    sesos (brains), lengua (tongue), barbacoa (face), trepas (barbequed intestine), menudo (made with sliced tripe and the broth from a foot, I believe). I’m sure there are some I’m missing.
    We’ll be having barbacoa on corn tortillas for Christmas breakfast, maybe some chorizo and eggs too. (I suspect chorizo is full of offal as well, just pork offal).

    Patty wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Chorizo is made of lymph nodes and salivary glands. ?! Whatever, still tastes good.

      Moshen wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • NONSENSE. HAVE MADE THEM FOR YEARS. FINELLY CHOPPED PORK,WINE,LOTSA GARLIC AND PIMENTÓN.REFRIGERATE,TURN EVERY 8 OR SO HRS.NEXT DAY,FILL AND TIE CASINGS AND COLD SMOKE FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS.KEEP IN A COOL,DRY, AIRY PLACE.ENJOY

        AHR wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Just to clarify on this.. Barbacoa is not face meat…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbacoa

      Joel wrote on December 20th, 2011
  26. Oh, my. I don’t’ think I’m that primal yet. Queasy…

    Will wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Yeah, it’s not for everyone, and venturing into the world of offal and odd bits isn’t a requirement to going Primal. You can do just fine without any of this stuff.

      Mark Sisson wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • Once upon a time, it was for everyone. Western palates and food imagery are ruined by limited offerings of cellophane meat.

        John wrote on December 20th, 2011
  27. GIVE ME HAGUS or GIVE ME DEATH!!

    rclere wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • HAGGIS ! YUM YUM YUM !

      AHR wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • errr… minus the vast quantity of oats right? :)

      Joel wrote on December 20th, 2011
  28. LOVE all those unmentionables !

    AHR wrote on December 20th, 2011
  29. Fantastic post, Mark! I’ve been meaning to talk to my butcher about some feet to make my stocks more gelatinous but now I have more things to ask him about :)

    Katherine wrote on December 20th, 2011
  30. I grew up with plenty of offal, but not tripe or brains, nor feet, so there’s MY challenge! I’m buying all 3 of Jennifer McLagan’s books 1. Fat 2. Bones and 3. is: Odd Bits
    plenty of helpful culinary advice!

    JuliaMcAra wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Sorry but unless I am starving to death and eating that was my only option to stay alive-well I may still chose death. HAHA

      Lindsey wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Any easy way into brains is the French way – poach them lightly in broth, let them cool, and break them up into hot butter in an omelet pan. Toss in 3-6 eggs and scramble. The brains disappear into the scrambled eggs – no one would ever know they were there. For extra yummy, also add a bit of nice blue cheese.

      moreporkplease wrote on December 20th, 2011
  31. Great artcle but I think I will stick with scrapple. Trying to work on a gluten free scrapple. Its the only meat I refuse to give up eating my90/10% rule.

    Trish wrote on December 20th, 2011
  32. Maangchi’s latest video recipe is popcorn chicken gizzards. Hers are dusted in starch but I think you could do an egg wash, then saute them – http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/popcorn-chicken-gizzards

    I think the tripe is bleached for human consumption. Korean markets sell blood sausage, pigs feet and all kinds of stuff, but the best for offal is the large Chinese market chain, 99 Ranch. You can find any part of any animal, I swear!

    HillsideGina wrote on December 20th, 2011
  33. Ok. So I WANT to eat this. I think. I understand the nutritional value. Our bank account would also be happy. BUT. I was raised vegeterian my entire life, until at 31 (2 years ago) faced with skyrocketing diabetes I started Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Soloution and slowly learned my body craved meat, then came pregnancy (after trying for 8 years), and pork cravings and I am solid meat eater ever since. Recently loving sashimi. Especially after raising goats as dairy and pets, chickens and ducks, and helping with cattle…. to see the head and feet, and to think of the other makes me retch. Worse than the first few times I ate meat. Anyone have any recommendations on how to get over that intense mental/emotional/physical reaction?

    Star wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • I’m there with you on that one, Star. I’ve been vegetarian virtually all my life and only recently started eating fish and seafood. I was traumatized cooking mussels the other day when the little critters started moving around the pan and hissing from the heat. I was shaking so badly from the experience of killing them that I could not even eat the broth afterwards. I’ve been reading Eat Right 4 Your Blood type and I’m supposed to eat red meat for optimal health. I’m trying to work up the courage to do it, but I think I would just keep on thinking about the furry little doe eyed animal. I tried to see if I had the courage to buy meat at my local Wholefoods but then saw the entire pieces of lamb’s leg with the bones and all and almost fainted. Needless to say, I was pretty much revolted by all the pictures of the odd bits presented in today’s post, though intellectually I do understand their nutritional value. Making the transition to primal after being vegetarian is really, really hard.

      Lulu wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • I hear you guys. I was a vegetarian for 35 years or so. Been primal for about 3. Just take it slow and figure it out as you go along as to how you can best make the transition. For each it is different.

        To start with, it might be the type of meat you select and/or how you cook it.

        Possibly reading the Vegetarian Myth might help put your mind in a better place.

        Mostly I just try not to think about the animal I am eating except to say thank you and I also tell myself that I am no different that any other animal on the planet in the food chain. (However, I’m hopefully at the top of that chain.)

        Lions and tigers and bears, are you listening?

        Sharon wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • Make it into chili , or even better, ask somebody to do it for you. Most cows would be alive, if not for human consumption of beef.
        I advised my son to stay away from vegetarians and animal rights activists before he went to college. It is a religion

        Galina L. wrote on December 21st, 2011
      • Oh my Lulu! I would also have been horrified by the mussels! My first intro to thinking I needed to eat meat was the Eat Right book. My husband deleriously crazed from lack of meat from dutifully becoming veg to please me was triumphantly waving it in my face. Think I’m kidding?? LOL Steak was my first meat. We were stationed in North Pole AK. I had been on diabetes drugs for a few months, they and the ADA diet was wrecking me. I had to have ttwo litres of saline that day and they wanted me in hospital. I said no and went home and demanded a steak. We went to Elfs Den and had a NY Strip with butter on it. I looked like a starving dog in the streets. LOL. Later that year we had halibut at the Alaskan Fish Bake in Fairbanks. I ate so many chunks of it, it was divine, I couldn’t stop. Then I came home and puked for two days. My body was not ready for all that. That put me off meat until a couple years later. The first clue we had I was pregnant is stopping at Famous Dave’s on the way home June 08 from Minot ND to KY. J got a sampler of sorts and I got my veggie low carb meal and I proceeded to eat all the BBQ on his plate and order more and more. LOl. I just wish I had eaten meat in AK. All that wasted salmon, moose, pike, trout and halibut…

        Star wrote on December 22nd, 2011
    • I’m in the same boat. Vegetarian for most of my life and only recently changing to a paleo-meat-filled diet to see if it helps an auto-immune disease. I started by eating ground chicken or turkey, mixed into something with plenty of veggies and familiar textures (chili, thai lettuce wraps). Then I moved up to chicken breasts cut into really small pieces. I’m now getting to some pork and beef, but have a hard time dealing with how chewy some of it is. I’m not sure I’ll be able to eat offal, but something like oxtail soup with tiny bits of meat in it might be do-able. Seeing it at the butcher counter is tough. Touching it is really hard. Nothing resists soap quite like animal fat, so I feel greasy and gross for a long time after touching meat! I’m with the others, though. Take it slow. Change your eating in small increments. Your health is worth the emotional distress you feel right now since it will fade in time.

      Decaf Debi wrote on December 22nd, 2011
  34. I can’t deal with heads… eyeballs.. Sort of a general rule I have not to eat things that appear to be looking at me. I’ll have to stick with liver, heart and bone broth for now.

    Credodisi wrote on December 20th, 2011
  35. I have a great Caribbean Crock pot recipe for Tripe. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll post the link to my blog with the recipe.

    Sondra wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • Yes, please!

      Sarah wrote on December 20th, 2011
  36. My grandparents used to breed their own pigs and we had pig-slaughter usually twice per winter season. I loved it as a kid and love it still. Not only for the delicious food but also for the tradicion as whole family gathered and it was lots of fun (and alcohol). My grandpa doesnt breed his own animals anymore, but we get a pig from a local farmer and slaughter it on our own to have home made yumminess. The pig brain usually came as first meal that day for breakfast as it was available immediately after the pig was slaughtered. I think they fed me these things while my mom still fed me with her milk, lol. :D

    Petra_OntheRoad wrote on December 20th, 2011
  37. Sorry but brains are for braintanning deerhides around my house..

    Kay wrote on December 20th, 2011
  38. Well I must admit that I am not partial to most of the “odd bits” in this post, except maybe the fish heads. Several trips to China, got me addicted to a nice Fish Head Stew. Anyway a very interesting post none the less.

    Michelle wrote on December 20th, 2011
  39. Awesome post, I was able to add a lot of what you said to my article for my tumblr http://dirtylittlecarnivore.tumblr.com/post/14521295427/eating-brains-or-how-we-evolved-to-eat-more-than-white

    dirtylittlecarnivore wrote on December 20th, 2011
  40. If you’ve got someone who knows how to cook it, lingua (beef tongue) is mighty tasty.

    Kay wrote on December 20th, 2011
    • How long do you cook it?
      That thing turns into hard rubber everytime I try.

      Arty wrote on December 20th, 2011
      • cook it longer.

        Here’s a pretty bare-bones recipe that I try. But I combine it with another (add black peppercorns and a bay leaf but otherwise follow the recipe).

        “3 lb Beef tongue
        1 qt Water
        1 Lemon; sliced
        1 t Salt

        Wash tongue thoroughly and place in a deep kettle with water. Add lemon slices and salt. Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 3 to 4 hours or until tender. Remover from heat. When
        just cool enough to handle, cut away roots and remove skin and any excess connective tissue. (Plunging tongue into cold water after cooking helps loosen skin.) If tongue is to be served cold, it will be juicier if cooled in the liquid in which it was cooked.”

        I know it’s ready when I start seeing the skin of the tongue becoming separated fromthe rest and blistering.

        toaster for sale wrote on December 21st, 2011
      • pressure cooker is useful for the tong preparation, but it is easy to overcook. Do not be surprised, if it takes 6 hours for a tong to be ready on a stove in a regular pot. Just be patient.

        Galina L. wrote on December 21st, 2011

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