It’s Not So Offal

MDA’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!


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.

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 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.

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.


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!)

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.


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.

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 for sweetbreads and bacon that includes some solid tips for preparing the sweetbread for consumption: Sweetbreads and Bacon.


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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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

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204 thoughts on “It’s Not So Offal”

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

    1. 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………….

      1. Kidneys are easy to make… you just cook the piss out of them … 😀 🙂

      2. Raw buffalo kidney with a little salt.. Or not. YUM.. After being introduced in South Dakota, I now crave it and have been looking everywhere for a outlet, however, it looks like I’ll just have to visit South Dakota again. 🙂 but about the kidney, it is good , it also has a ton of health benefits,it’s definitely worth it. I personally would not eat a cow kidney raw unless it was grass fed. I have no idea how to cook it, and after having it ( Buffalo kidney) raw, I probably won’t.

    2. I developed a multi-glandular supplement called Grassfed Beef Organs by Ancestral Supplements. Developed this supplement for us modern humans… to put back in, what the modern world has left out… taste free capsules with equals parts liver, heart, kidney, pancreas and spleen… turns out that a whopping 30% of purchases are for dogs / pets… many animal lovers are turning their backs on commercial pet foods to make nourishing foods that support the health and happiness of the animal.

      My mission has always been geared to ancestral nourishment… “putting back in, what the modern world has left out.” I’m glad that Wendy made this post (over 8 years ago) because it’s a reminder that our animals also evolved with the nourishment of nutrient dense (nose-to-tail) foods. If you love your animal, pay attention to the primal principles that express the healthiest, strongest version of the organism.

  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

    1. 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

    2. Slowly introduce the nourishment of organs into your diet… try a pan seared heart dish, seared in the rich glory of ghee, sea salt and pepper, a squeeze of lime and that’s it. Soooo delicious. The lime makes it awesome!!

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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

        1. try “Anticuchos de corazon” a peruvian nadional dish. it’s delicious!

        2. 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.

    2. 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!

      1. Hey Kelly, thanks for saying this so I don’t have to! Ground up organs with burger meat is the way to go for the squeamish, and now kid-approved!

        You just can’t beat the nutrient density of organ meats. I prefer pork kidney (sauteed with onions, with a side dip of spicy mustard) and duck hearts (grilled). And even better, my local Whole Foods sells the pork kidney to me for 99 cents a pound, and it’s pastured, from a local farmer. YESSSSS!

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

      1. 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

    7. 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.

    8. 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!

      1. I realize that this is an old thread but I’d love an update if you don’t mind sharing? Are you able to consume any organ meats now? If so, how’d you do it? I’d love to share the knowledge…

    9. 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

    10. Hi I just purchased my first Ox heart and lambs kidneys. I trimmed the heart (all the sinew and fat which i kept) and sliced the meat thinly and put it in a marinade in the fridge to cook tomorrow. I used 3 kidneys and some not so gristly pieces of the heart that I trimmed, 3 pieces of bacon and about 200g of grass fed beef mince along with onion, garlic and oregano and put them all in the food processor to make a mince. Fried them into meat balls and they were actually quite nice. You can still taste the “organ” meat flavour but all the additions helped.
      I will let you know how the marinated heart goes!!

    11. I’ll share with you the simple recipe I used for my first heart-eating adventure, which was also grass-fed beef heart. I don’t measure anything, cause I hate wasting water to clean unnecessary items, so just eyeball. You really can’t go wrong.

      -Beef Heart (obviously); slice open and remove the small connective bits found within the inner chambers. (I personally don’t mind them, but most people seem to want to do this extra work)
      – small Brussel Sprouts
      -Mushrooms; Cremini are nice here
      -Onion, preferably yellow
      -Bacon Grease/Pork Fat or substitute some other oil (substitutions will not ever add as much depth and flavor as will pork fats)
      -Sea Salt and fresh cracked Pepper, if you want either

      In pork fat, briefly brown the outside portions of the heart, rotating it as it browns on each side. Doesn’t have to be perfect, don’t obsess. Put it aside in the middle of roasting pan when adequately browned.

      Saute the chopped onion and mushroom until the prior begins softening and gaining that translucent state. Add in thickly cut Brussle Sprouts and cook for a few minutes until they just start softening noticeably. Pour this mixture over the heart in the baking pan. Cover with lid and bake for 15-20 minutes per pound of weight of heart, depending on desired doneness at 275-300F, This should yeild a medium-rare to medium end result. Do it longer if you want it more well-done!

      Enjoy! It’s ridiculously delicious!

      I also put them in soups and stews on the regular.

    12. My favorite way to fix beef heart is to remove the veins and slice the heart 1\2 inch thick, dust with some seasoned flour and fry up like a skinnny steak. Fast cooking and delicious with stewed tomatoes and greenbeans….never used frozen before. Heart can be… delicate.

  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.

  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!

  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.


  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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.


    1. Helen,
      Look for bread made with almond “flour”. I love it and it keeps me grain free. I do only have it on occasion.

  10. You left out testicles or (what i overheard my cousin telling her husband a dish was) huevos del toro.

  11. 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”!

    1. I must second this – the gizzards are my favorite part of the chicken, too. Its a shame there’s only one gizzard per bird, hah.

  12. 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?

    1. High quality liver from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows is completely safe to consume. There is a common misconception about the liver being a storage depot for toxins which couldn’t be further from fact. One of the many roles of liver is to filter toxins and send them to be expelled — usually in the urine via the kidney. In other words, the liver does not hold on to toxins, it expels them. The liver does act as a storage depot for vitamins, minerals and glycogen. Rest assured, liver from healthy animals is safe, nutritious and time-tested.

      Need more assurance… Recall that liver is rich in choline, folate and B12. A diet rich in these nutrients supports methylation. Amongst other things, methylation is central to detoxification. What’s more, is that without adequate choline (most Americans) fatty deposits may accumulate that contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Downstream issues include compromised detoxification, high cholesterol and memory problems. The take home message is this… grass-fed, pasture-raised liver is not only safe to consume but one could say that its nutrients are required to support and optimize our own detoxification pathways. Enjoy!

  13. 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!

    1. Is it natural to be repulsed by the thought of eating organ meats?

  14. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. Not so. Offal was eaten by all my ancestors. European sausages are all offal, and my mom and grandmom made liver once a week, and cod liver oil for health. Grok would have eaten the offal first, raw, then carried the meat home and dried it.

      1. And, my viking ancestors kept cod liver oil in a barrel for health.

        1. And when I was a kid in the 70’s, there was all the different parts in the grocery including hearts and livers, they sold them then, including canned brains. In the “American” grocery.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!!!!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

    1. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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?!

    1. I am often fatigued. On the occasions I eat liver, I have lots of energy for days. I think it really should be a once a week thing. I hide it in spaghetti and chili for my husband and kids. I love it with onions, salt and pepper, pan seared.

  24. 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?


  25. 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!

  26. 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’!!

  27. 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.

  28. 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…

    1. 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.

      1. 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,


  29. 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!

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

  33. 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. 🙁

  34. 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!

    Scott Kustes
    Life Spotlight

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

    1. 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)

  37. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

  38. 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.

    Scott Kustes
    Life Spotlight

  39. Even though a couple of these are “ho-hum” foods from my childhood (tongue and liver), that’s exactly how they’ll remain: foods from childhood. I’ll eat steak and kidney pie, but the rest, as one poster said, goes to the dog.

  40. As an Argie, I’ve eaten all sorts of ofal. Sweetbreads just of the grill covered in chimichurri is godsent. I think some people bad experience with organ meat comes from childhood horrors of overcooked liver . When properly cooked most organ meat is wonderful. You may not like them all. I myself am not that fond of mushy but most people will find something to like

    1. AGREED. My mom ruined liver for me by boiling it, in plain water, untild the neighbors complained about the smell…and then served it for dinner. My brothers and I learned the value of holding our breath while eating, thanks to mom’s liver! Except for that one cut, though, she was an excellent cook…

  41. The prion thing, I’m not sure about. It might be true that prions are contagious, but that doesn’t explain, for instance, how grass-eating sheep get scrapie from one another… I mean, that’s just *weird.* Or deer either, who also are not fed ground animal brains. I heard something about how certain classes of pesticide might be implicated in some cases of prion brain disease. And in other cases it may be caused by certain mineral deficiencies in people who live on volcanic soils.

    There are people who get CJD allegedly from eating squirrel brains… but gee… Americans with mineral deficiencies? THAT never happens. 😛

    So I’d say that if you’re all fired up about trying brain, stick with grass-fed and go for it. Organic, even better.

    But I’m with Grok. The Inuit ate the heart and the kidneys but left most offal to their dogs. If they ever ate more than heart and kidneys it was because they were about to move on to eating their dogs next. There’s something to be said for leaving something for the scavengers–it isn’t really waste! Especially now with us killing so many of them off.

    1. They don’t catch it from each other. But if their feed is contaminated with an animal that had mad cow disease, and yes they have been caught feeding cows back to cows, then it can infect more than one in a herd.

  42. When I was a baby, my mum used feed me lambs brains and vegetables, I grew up on tripe, liver, steak & kidney stew with dumplings …mmmmm

    When I met my wife who is from Fiji I got use to eating fish heads (brain is delicious) pigs heads (brain also delicious) and a lot of other cuts you haven’t mentioned but I know you’ve probably tried. (to have the head of an animal given to you to eat is the height of respect in Fiji)

    My favourite cut is definitely ox tongue.. oh boy that is choice eating right there

  43. I looove tongue. Cow’s tongue is a delicatessen in Russia. I love chicken liver and hearts! But I wasn’t able to purchase any cow’s tongue or chicken hearts in London 🙁 My local butcher looked at me like I was crazy.

    1. Huh? Strange. A few brit friends I have know ox tongue well. Marine in brine water over night, slow cook to perfection and slice as cold cut for sandwich.

  44. Great article!
    When I was little my mom used to prepare thin slices of cow’s udder, fried in real butter with slices of apple. It was delicious. Beef’s tongue she prepared in tomato sauce with button mushrooms and madeira wine and a dollop of mashed potato on the side. I was never a fan of liver or kidneys, but have learned to appreciate the taste and now eat it with gusto (and onions). Sweetmeats are considered a delicacy here. Duck gizzard are lovely fried in duck fat with a bit of rosemary and tossed in a green salad. Tripe I find a bit more difficult, mostly because of the texture. To those people who think it is all gross, remember this: you can be certain that you have already eaten it anyway, ground up in sausages… If you are going to have an animal killed to eat it, it’s only polite to the poor beast to eat all of it. 🙂

  45. Was raised on this stuff, and love it! Try chicken livers with green peppers, and don’t forget giblet stew! Fry beef-heart lightly in butter, tastes like sirloin! Shank meat, rarely seen in the supermarket, makes the best stew, and ox-tail was a bargain-meat at one time! Need some nutrition, try pig’s feet, in a baking pan! Get some bones – beef bones, and hope the butcher left a little meat on them, and boil them for soups! Now, go snare a rabbit, and cook him up too! Next, catch some suckers, (a freshwater fish found in Canada) and get Mom to can them – tastes just like salmon, only better! I love smelts too, spring smelt runs meant fresh fish to fry after a long cold winter, and we would feast on them until we burst at the seams! Pike, Pickerel are the mainstays of our diet, but we like “poor man’s lobster” the Ling, easy to catch through the ice, and the secret to good eating is a good woman, who knows how to cook it just right! Deer and Moose, and even some Bear meat will get you through a long cold Canadian winter, so will a couple of squirrels if you are really hungry, they make a nice meat pie! Porcupines are good, and can be eaten raw if you are really desperate. We ate blueberries in season, and fresh dug potatoes, and pork hawks, sow-belly, and home made beans, French-fried potatoes in lard, and pancakes! Some of you city folks are , well, so citified! Try a BBQ’ed Prairie Dog lately?

  46. I’m a recovering vegetarian who is also salivating at the thought of tender tongues and hearts, and the unknown taste of kidneys and livers properly prepared. I’m surprised so many of you tough meat eaters are such big wusses when it comes to a nice slice of tongue or a chunk of heart! I’m not paleo – I’m a mixed type, but I desperately need more protein which is why I’m no longer vegetarian – even with a focus on eggs, yogurt and fish, it just don’t add up enough, I needed more. Like – kidney for breakfast! Tongue for dinner!

    Found this page when I was searching for a little info on organ meats. I hear tongue, once cooked, is nice out of the fridge sliced like a coldcut. My little girl and I will definitely be eating organ meats! Where else can you find such low cost and high nutrition?! After all, one of the benefits of being vegetarian/fisheater was the cheap factor, so to add meat and poultry back in, I have to be cost conscious. Glad I’m good with a slow cooker, I can get those tougher cuts and make them really tender.

    I just made beef bone broth for 16 hours in the slow cooker – so healthful – I haven’t eaten beef in ages but here we go! Bone broth heals the stomach (good for the celiacs!) and is a great source of calcium if you are sure to prepare it with a splash of vinegar. Beef bones are freely available in the grocery store, but I hear broth made with a lamb’s neck is quite nice – and similar to oxtail. Hmmm… off to find a lamb’s neck!

    I just think the practice of eating organ meats was tossed out with the practice of eating cod liver oil, and butter, and raw milk and so much else so many of us find appalling today. Citified? Good word for it.

  47. I just read “nose to tail eating” by fergus henderson, owner of St. John’s restaurant in London. amazing book.

    I recently acquired a freshly killed 50 lb pig which sparked my interest in learning how to prepare the “nasty bits.” I ate some liver, kidney, the heart and used two feet in soup. tried a slice of what I thought was pancreas but might have been spleen… afraid the rest of the offal went to waste. never again, I am prepared!

  48. Offal provides wonderful nutrition, at a budget price. I encourage everyone to eat it.

    Ox liver is my current favorite. I’ve yet to try sweetbreads, but have tried everything else mentioned in this article.

    Kind regards,

    Steve H

  49. Hi, I found your website is very interesting. I’m looking for PIG INTERNAL ORGAN from all the farms in US and buy them export to other countries.
    Could you do mw a favor and let’s form a partnership?
    Please email me.

  50. Wot about pig’s uterus ?
    Readily available frozen in most Chinese supermarket. Just ask !

  51. Hi Mark,

    Everything that you show here looks delicious. I love organ meats especially the brain and tounge. My only problem is that I do not know where to buy them.

    Have a nice one!

    1. When I was a kid, my friend’s dad had undercooked brains in Thailand. He was flying his plane and couldn’t remember who he was 2 weeks later. Brain parasite. He died within a month of eating it. Poor guy, it was awful. Brains are not on my menu for that reason.

  52. I grew up eating Jewish deli foods including tongue and chopped chicken liver. I now eat chopped liver with cucumber slices instead of bread.

  53. I’ve eaten organ meats for as long as I’ve lived – 67 years! Mother used to feed me raw scraped beef liver. I usually stuff a beef heart as I would a chicken or turkey, roast slowly and yummy! Tripe is the only organ I can’t touch!

  54. Chicken livers fried in butter and smothered with peri peri sauce. Yum

  55. i’m just trying to muster up the courage to eat the liver & heart from an organic whole chicken i just roasted…..

    1. Oh you are missing out on something good if you dont eat the liver and heart. I would eat them right away before anyone else could get to them. They do not taste bad, very good.

  56. Having Sicilian heritage, tripe, liver and veal spleen were foods of our childhood. When these cuts are prepared the way my family or finer restaurants prepare them, they may become favorites with you also. Unfortunately, having moved to the opposite side of the country, I am finding it difficult to find quality organ meats, especially veal spleen which I cannot find at all. Perhaps you can point me in the direction for obtaining them.

  57. Wow, great post and LOVE reading the comments. I am trying so hard to use the offal that comes with the grassfed meat we buy from farmers just outside our metro area. Just made milzsuppe (Bavarian soup from spleen) last night and it was quite … normal!!

    Liver is nasty cooked the way most restaurants do. It MUST be fresh (not freezer burnt), sliced thinly, and delicately cooked.

    I would love a great book or website that contains many of the recipes y’all have mentioned. It’s so time-consuming to try to google everything. I found a lot in The Joy of Cooking, but I think I just don’t know enough to make it work. E.g., tried to steam heart in the oven, but couldn’t keep the water steaming the whole time and it was way dry.

    Gout, btw, is a consequence of excess grains/sugar, NOT meat.

    Grok – I thought the Inuits ate organs, for instance, the Weston Price story about the adrenal glands being how they naturally avoid the “white man’s disease” of scurvy. Where can I learn more about this?

    Would love to know how to use pig’s feet. I made stew with them, but there was only maybe 2oz of meat out of two pigs’ worth of feet! Are they just for making broth?

    My understanding was that CJD/mad-cow does not happen in grassfed cows. True?

    Desperate for more recipes …

  58. I simply don’t understand why my fellow Americans are so squeamish. If you take a VERY fresh chicken, as are readily available in China, where I live, the liver, heart and gizzard are DELICIOUS (btw. Mark I’d be interested on your thoughts on freshness if you ever get the chance- in China live fish, chickens, frogs, eels, shrimp are available at every little produce market, whereas this is almost unheard of nowadays in the States)

  59. Love Offal! I have never tried brain or sweetbreads, but I have eaten the other parts. Have to fight my daughter off with a stick when I do fowl liver, she eats it as fast as I cut it up after it is cooked. yummy stuff. Heart stew is really good, and I will try it ‘burgandy beef’ style for sure.

    Grok–Plains Indians did indeed eat offal. Liver was given to the hunters and pregnant women. Intestines were used to pack pemmican in and they used the bladders for carrying water, as well as using the stomach/skin to cook in. Sorry, Indians could not afford to leave anything behind. They used bone, skin, tissues, tendons, everything. Did you know that every animal has enough brain matter to tan it’s own hide?

  60. In my country we eat every kind of offal (except kidneys which for some reason hasn’t caught on) From pan-friend brain, to sour tripe stew I grew up with this stuff. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it.

  61. I often found Westerners’ aversion to offal pretty amusing. I’m Chinese after all, and the saying goes that we eat anything with legs or that crawls. 😛 My dad, when he was studying in Canada, would go to the veterinary school with other Malaysian students to just get the offal they were simply throwing away.

    Eating “the whole hog” has long been a revered custom for the Chinese. In fact, we frown on throwing away edible bits of the animal. We eat everything, including the ears and the trotters and I’m pretty sure … the er, reproductive organs.

    1. I second Elizabeth. (am also Chinese.)

      i also agree with Carina that most Americans are wussy. XD


    2. I gotta weigh in on that. In the South, the boys in junior high would giggle when anyone ate “mountain oysters.” (fried pig balls). I never had any, uh uh But I do eat liver. Thanks Mom.

  62. PS: Offal is considered a delicacy in many Asian cultures … my grandma would make Pig Stomach soup just for Chinese New Year. Good times.

  63. I’m from Argentina.. we eat all the foods you mentioned (also, cow’s small intestines, “chinchulines”), although they’re not everyday foods, and some people do find them disgusting. I love them all!


    1. “Calf liver” in the frozen section (as opposed to beef liver) is said to be pretty clean. By law, calves in the USA have to be pastured at least 3 mos. And they are pretty young, so the liver is pretty clean.


  66. Hi, Tomas Suria,

    I have the same problem.

    the Chinese & Spanish market nearby do have some offal (not as “extensive”). but they’re not organic or grass fed.

    last weekend, i found an organic (pasture) in a Farmer’s Market. & got pig feet & pig belly (both with skin on) from a the young American Chinese woman. she said one needs to call ahead.


  67. I had all of the above several times in my life time and I love them all. Thanks to my Chinese parents, they taught me to appreciate what I eat.

    1. really? thanks. are they of high quality? if so, then i have to visit Ranch 99.

      also i’m looking for Chinese recipes cause i really don’t know how to clean/cut/cook them.

      but recently i heard that in CA, Chinese restaurants stopped offering pig blood cake due to hygiene concern. 🙁 >_<


  68. I am on a raw primal/paleo diet…and I eat my organs like I eat my meat, raw. I have been on this diet for over 7 years, and am 44 years old. I got on this diet due to having Graves’ Disease(an aging disease), and now have no symptoms of this disease, and look like I am in my 20’s. My body is completely muscular, and my skin looks like that of a young person. Organ meats each contain the nutrients the corresponding organs in our bodies need. Since I added organ meats to my diet, my energy levels and health have gone up majorly. Liver does not contain toxins, it merely processes them, toxins are mostly stored in the fats of the body, which shouldn’t be an issue of the meat is of good quality. Cooking food period causes the following:
    “Cooking creates heterocyclic amines (HCA). Many of these HCA are directly or indirectly physically addictive.197,198,199,200,201 Due to the heat of cooking, these HCA originate from the interaction between protein and carbohydrates and / or creatine (in red meat) or nitrate (in vegetables).”
    Cooked foods also cause free radicals, and kill the majority of nutrition found in food, not only vitamins, but beneficial microorganisms which keep the body’s flora healthy. Such nutrients as coQ10 are completely destroyed. Living foods feed living cells, and therefore do not cause the effects of aging that dead foods do. We literally are what we eat…living muscle creates living muscle and living fats give us healthy body fat and EFA’s to fuel and lubricate the bodies systems. A lot of people on regular primal diets talk down those on the raw diet, but I can guarantee you, our health is superior.

  69. So sad to witness the large number of Americans, spoiled, coddled and coerced by their currently failing capitalism, corporatism, left unable to stomach the good nutrition God has granted them in the form of wild boar, Asian fish infestations and the like! In Canada, we harvest our deer, moose populations by strict licensing practices, as we do for our wild fish, and game birds. We have no wasted surpluses, and we even condone and sanction the eating of seal meat, and the exporting of the same to our Chinese neighbors as food!
    We pray, Americans, when their dollar fails, and their corporatists, capitalists, have all moved to the Beijing, Hang Seng and Shanghai stock markets with their ill gotten American sweat-generated Capital, will be able, like the rest of the world, to stomach the lesser parts of the bodies of the animal kingdom killed in order to feed humans.
    Egypt has left the American Capitalist empire, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan,Yemen, and others are soon to follow – all these people cherish and hold in high esteem, the organ meats! Only spoiled, pampered, American palettes refuse to gain sustenance from what is really very good food!
    The Americans have been conditioned by their corporate, capitalist, masters, through the most powerful propaganda machine the world has ever seen, to be selective and eat only certain parts of animals, and only certain animals! No other nation in the world, no other force on earth has been able to accomplish this, and certainly not to boost the profits of the huge meat preparing houses! Imagine, in a world plagued by starvation, malnutrition, a race so self-centered as to refuse to eat but a part of a slaughtered animal!

  70. Folks,

    a great way to get started with Tripe is to go to a local Pho place and have one of the soups that has tripe in it. Ask them to hold the noodles though!

  71. So far i’ve only tried heart and liver. heart is easy-peasy, just marinade for a few days, skewer, and grill. it’s pretty good actually.

    liver, ummm… i don’t think beef liver will be gracing our table again any time soon. maybe i’ll work up to trying chicken liver.

    i’m interested in the concept of “sweetbreads.” they look really gross, but i think it’s worth a try.

  72. I am salivating… with the exception of the tongue, I could see myself smacking someone with it before eating it. I was also REALLY afraid you were going to say eat the tripe with everything inside like my gives to her dogs, but the lining I can stomach… ha.

  73. My folks raised beef cattle, and we ate the whole darn animal. So I was exposed to organ meats since I was a baby and never knew different – love it all but the liver, especially love the tongue and tripe. I was, however, always afraid the kids at school would find out that I was eating a heart sandwich for lunch…

  74. For the foodie or adventuresome eaters who have never tried these cuts, this stuff…when prepared correctly is delicious. I have several recipes handed down by my mom which I would be happy to send to anyone who is interested. She was born in Sicily and moved to Tunisia…which is where I was born. As a result; the recipes are Italian, French and Arabic.

    1. I would appreciate any recipes you’re willing to share. Thank you

  75. I would like to offer some web sites for anyone living in and around Idaho State for organ meats.
    It took me an entire year to find suppliers willing to go out of their way and package sweetbreads, tongue, heart, kidneys, whatnot….and they’re all grass-fed/finished. All these animals graze on the mineral rich volcanic wild soil of southern Idaho.

    Here are some sites:

    Elk, Deer and Pheasant

    Pork, Chicken (soy free), and Beef


    The organ meats are not on the web sites and have to be special ordered by e-mail or phone.
    I wish everyone good health and a joyful life 🙂

  76. Grew up eating Pork brains and scrambled eggs. There was always a cow tongue sitting on a shelf in the ref. and we ate liver weekly.

    Now, 45 years later, chicken livers and hearts are about all I can stomach. I raise rabbits for meat and save the offal (awful) for the dogs- I can it when I can the rabbit and mix it with their hard food.

  77. So, I just tried to fry up some beef heart, nothing but heart, olive oil, and a little onion. It didn’t work too well – the musky flavor of the organ is really overwhelming. It looked like a tasty fajita with ok texture but I could only eat it covered in guacamole. Does anyone have a good recipe for a very strong marinade? How much does it cut the “blech”y flavor?

  78. Sorry but I would never eat any organs of exretement. Innards have to come in a shell. Just regular cuts of meat for me.

  79. Was brought up on kidneys, liver, tongue and heart, brain very occasionally, and some sweetbreads. I love kidneys (eat them most mornings for breakfast), and little beats liver with caramelised onions and bacon. Heart I’ll eat if I have to, ditto tongue, but I really can’t stand brain or sweetbreads – I’ve not tried tripe – my grandmother used to boil it for the dog, and the smell put me off for life!

  80. I just made a rabbit meat, rabbit organs, pork liver, bacon and extra lard ‘casserole’.

    Had too many things thawing out at once so I made one big mashed pile of everything out of it…lol.

    And omg, it’s GOOD ! 🙂

  81. We ate lots of chicken gizzards livers as well as pork and beef livers growing up. Our Granny raised chickens for a long time; living close to Mexico we ate tripe as in tripas de leche. As an adult I sampled beef tongue and one of my favorites, pork chitterlings. Got to the site after eating liver and wondering how healthy were organ meat(s).

  82. I just had scrambled eggs and liver and this just made me hungry again! I love organ meats. Being peruvian I grew up on anticuchos (heart kebabs) and tripe soup =) Peruvians eat a lot of toungue too but I haven’t had the chance to try it, yet. The only ones I haven’t seen in the market is kidney, brains, and sweetbreads. Out of the three I want to try that sweetbread the most 😛 great post Mark, way to open us up to organs because they really are delicious

  83. have found tongue to be very good fixed two different ways. One was with a red sauce sorta like a pasta sauce. Good, and also a sweet and sour raisin sauce. Good too. Phyllis Skalak

  84. As a young houswife nearly sixty years ago, I cooked heart, brains, tongue, and recently I’ve gone back to those, plus sweetbreads. I did try testicles, and found them good when deep fried. I cooked and ate them by myself, and have told noone except you, Phyllis Skalak Las Vega I did write about it in my personal diary.s

  85. Being adventurous and analytical, I’ve never had a problem braving the bizarre, so I’ve eaten pretty much everything on this list and made a few of them myself. I know many people, even if they dare to try, are often hesitant to experiment more due to the ‘gamey’ flavors, but once you get used to it, you often appreciate and crave the richer, more interesting flavors and textures.

    I wonder how Mark feels about head cheese?

  86. Great article! I came across this in trying to figure out whether organ meats may be used to replace fleshy meat. I grew up in a culture that eats all of these organ meats that you’ve listed. I love quite a few of them and even prefer them to “meat” which I often find boring. In your opinion, is it safe or even advantageous to eat more organ meats than “meat”? I am talking making organ meats my main source of animal protein e.g. 80%. Thanks!

  87. Hi guys,

    I just received my sweetbreads and I am eating one raw and unprepared!
    It is delicious. I think cooking would ruin this sweet and tender flavor.

    This would probably be best mixed in with steak tartar. Excellent flavor.
    I wonder why this isn’t being used to sell in conventional stores, too.
    This is considered garbage?


  88. I tried Liver last year, it stayed in the freezer for months though before I could face it. But actually I quite enjoyed it, although I think it was overcooked. I will be getting some more. It was a hell of a lot cheaper than steak.

    As a child I remember eating kidney as well as tripe. I dont think I minded the kidney but dont recall liking the tripe, I just remember the strange smell of it. I actually thought tripe was a type of fish until now.

  89. recipe for the ick crowd:

    1 dynamic offal good chef
    1 blindfold
    1 resistant offal consumer

    all the various offal selections
    prepared served ~ gourmet style
    and savored in blindness

    I would be up for that offal good experience and I bet many icker’s would be the next group of offal good eaters.

  90. I grew up eating all of the above, except for glands (just didn’t have a chance to try). Liver was served in our household regularly, we typically just quick saute it in butter, a minute on each side, no longer, and sprinkle some salt and pepper on it when done. My mom always said “don’t overcook the liver, it needs to have some blood in it” :).
    Then onions were thinly sliced and sauteed in the “liver juice” in the same skillet. And of course chicken livers were fried or made into pate quite frequently. Long live liver!

  91. You know what I wanna do? Put these in soup. Throw ’em in the slow-cooker with a couple spoons of vinegar and a bunch of vegetables – and maybe a couple bones – simmer them on low for a couple of days, and make the most amazing POWER BROTH known to man!! >:D

  92. I live in Brazil, and these organ foods are all very common here. Originally hailing from Canada, i have found it very difficult to get over the ‘ick’ factor as Mark so brilliantly put it. However, I am slowly acclimatizing! I already eat chicken hearts here, which oddly enough end up being more expensive than a lot of regular meats! Not sure i’ll ever get over tripe or brains though. I just can’t go there, although my wife’s dad eats it without hesitation!

  93. I love tripe, grew up eating it as a kid and now I go searching for different restaurants that offer it. But I have an important question. I fully understand and accept all the nutrient value in the rest of the “offal”, but after the bleaching and cleaning that has to be done with tripe (to go from green to white), is there really any nutritional value left? For now, I eat it because I love it, but I’m not sure it is really doing anything for me from a nutrient standpoint.

  94. I love this site I practically live on egg yolks and chicken livers -they are cheap and wonderful and versatile.

    I love sweetbreads, too, but have a hard time finding them, would love to find chicken hearts, any suggestions where to get them?

    I grew up eating tongue and tripe and kidneys so I’m down with all of this, a little cautious about cow products now -abut they do taste great

  95. Good posting… I’ve been eating raw organ meats for about 12 years. I began doing that after took a (now discontinued) supplement made of raw extracts of liver, pancreas, thyroid and a couple of other organs that I don’t remember. I did a bit of research as to how beneficial they are. My interest was initially only on the weightlifting end of the effect, but a little farther down the road of life, my interest has expanded to the 30’s and on part of life, where the natural production of hormones decreases.

  96. With the pink slime uproar, perhaps companies might start using hearts and tongues as their hamburger filler.

    I wonder how many people would simply be less squeamish about organs if they simply looked like another chunk of meat in their stew? I could probably tolerate eyeballs if they were minced and mixed with something.

    Hubby doesn’t like liver, but I do. For chicken livers I rinse them, then either throw them in a cold pan, put on a lid, and turn the burner to low for about a half hour, stirring occasionally. Or I soft-fry some bacon, turn the heat to medium, and stir the chicken livers often while the bacon is draining.

    For beef liver, I put fat in a hot pan and saute sliced onion, dredge the liver slices, push aside the onion and brown each side of the liver for about a minute, turn down the heat and pile the onions under and over the liver, add a bit of liquid to the bottom of the pan, and gently steam until the entire liver is evenly firm. (It should be a little soggy and have the texture of cold dense quiche.) Pull the liver out of the pan and add a thickener to the leftover liquid, preferably what’s left on the dredging plate.

    I use flour for that recipe, powdered cauliflower might work.

  97. It’s simple. Place organ in pot/pan. Apply heat. Apply spices. Apply mental brainpower. Ope mouth. Insert organ. Chew. Swallow. Be happy!

    Good read Mark, I’ve been eating organ meats in smaller quantities (as delicacies) since I was a child. Now I’m trying to eat them a lot more often, had liver for the past 2 days in a row. Lightly fried in tallow in my wok, it’s delicious.

  98. Interesting. What about cholesterol levels in liver and arsenic content in chicken livers due to growth promoters? Also I’ve read that liver is moderately inflamatory. Why would that be?

  99. in eastern europe where I am from I have been served and eating things like liver, kidneys, tongue (we even buy it in los angeles at jons) which are very delicious to my taste and can be prepared in a very nice dish. yum

  100. i have eaten all plus testicles love it all if cooked correctly with the right ingrdients and etc heart is rather tough

  101. Hi all! Great post!

    To everyone who is reading DON´T BE AFRAID OF THESE! I´m from Argentina, we eat these on a regular basis, sweetbread is considered a delicacy, I grew up eating tongue (my favorite!) and tripe makes part of one of the most typical dishes here. So try them, don´t think about it too much, and once you taste it you´ll forget all about any “ick!” factor.

  102. Hi There,

    I would really like to eat grass fed beef liver, but i was wondering, if you already take a high dose multivitamin like say the Damage Control Master Formula, wouldn’t you get Vitamin A poisoning (Hypervitaminosis A) if you also would eat liver?

    This is the only reason I’m a little reluctant to eat liver, I hope someone can clarify it for me.

  103. I am a fanatical organ eater since I was a small boy and I’m very disappointed you left small intestines out the list… lookup “chichulines”…

  104. Having Hungarian parents, I’ve eaten all of these and continue to! So delicious. Since cooking for myself after college I’ve not made these, since they just aren’t found as ingredients in many of the cookbooks I went to the past 10 years. Since going paleo I’ve gone out of my way to find them again. Thank you for the tips and assurance that my parents weren’t crazy! haha.

  105. I’ve been having trouble finding a butcher willing to give some of the organ meats. Has anyone had success in getting the following items from small family-owned butchers who process meat for local farms?
    – Cow brain
    – Blood
    – Tripe
    – Lungs


  106. Well, when I was a kid we used to eat pickled pig’s feet and “head cheese” which was a gelatin type substance with brain in it.

    I ate it cause my Dad ate it. It was good. Now, it just grosses me out!

    I’ve eaten liver, not bad. If I’m going to eat any of this, it will probably be liver.

  107. Liver sautéed with bacon and onions. Yummy!
    Chop bacon and cook. Drain off some of the fat. Add onions and cook until soft. Add chopped liver and cook until done. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Tonight I an going to add ground beef hearts to my hamburger patties.

  108. OMG! I am glad organ meats are considered to be good for you. I grew up eating organ meats a lot in Russia, especially liver and tongue. It never grossed me out. And now being on Paleo diet, I get even more excited from creating different recipes with organ meats.

  109. Bravo Mark. Organs concentrate and hold nutrients in the body of any animal, so there is no flesh-cut of meat that comes close to the nutrient density of organ meats. In the NYT dining this week, I read about the Academy of Organ Meats, “academie des abats”. We may need to start one in the US. I’m in! -Dr. Maurer

  110. i have eaten every thing all of you have said and can say for certian all is or can be wonderful if prepared correctly, also no one meantioned chitterlings which is also very good, thats the pigs intestines, and i bet most of you have eaten it ,thats what is used to hold the sausages together, smoked sausage,bratswurts boudin andouille and so on, thought its called casings in the stores, its just pigs guts. so if you’ve eaten sausages you are already into offal .happy eating all

  111. I was telling my 32 year old daughter about my Mom making souse or headcheese when I was a teenager. Never tried it myself as I could barely tolerate the smell in the kitchen. She and my Dad loved it. Daughter wants to learn primal cooking but my Mom, born in 1908, did not leave these types of recipes. Is there a cookbook on the market for Primal cooking? Thanks for the article.

  112. I’m going to start eating cow hearts and imitating that one line from Indy, ad nauseam.


    Thanks for the opportunity to annoy the piss out of my folks. ;]

  113. I love the organs!! In Mexico we eat them all the time. We do not waste anything from any animal. Yummy!! By the way Mark, I was thinking of all my friends and family in Mexico (I´m in Canada now) and how they should go primal. You have a lot of amazing info here but it´s all in English! Will there ever be a version in Spanish? Just so you know, you would have millions of latin followers. I hope you can consider it.

  114. After living in Thailand for 2 years, I want to get back into eating organ meats. I used to have chicken hearts and some kind of pig organ every morning for breakfast with a little sticky rice and green beans. Truth be told I didn’t know they were organ meats until someone told me but by then my morning meal was so habitual that it didn’t gross me out. Try to imagine the meats as another kind of animal (ex. your eating chicken hearts… “wow crocodile sure does taste interesting!!”)

  115. Hey, great article! I love organ meats of all sorts, as much if not more than I like the muscle meats. I buy organs when I can from grassfed or naturally raised animals, and I always save and eat all the organs from my own chickens, ducks, and rabbits when I slaughter.

    The part about lighter colored livers being from younger animals, though…? I’m not sure that’s accurate. Definitely not the case with chickens in my years of raising and slaughtering them; fresh livers from young poultry are uniformly dark and firm, while livers from OLDER birds (spent layers and cocks typically three years old or older) are usually lighter brown, sometimes slightly uneven or mottled in coloration. I do not save or eat those livers. A dark, deep reddish-brown color and firm texture has always been to me the sign of a healthy, fresh liver from a young animal.

    Cheers, and happy dining!

  116. Except for the brain, I have been eating these all my life. I actually made liver(from bison, which we bought from Sprouts Market) and onions for dinner last night, my first time to cook it myself and it actually turned out pretty good if I may say so. I just marinated it with Braggs liquid amino, lemon, salt and pepper for an hour or so and then fried them.

  117. Starting off with liver and kidney

    Hmmm, the two most toxic organs possible as they both act as filters for toxins.

    Considering how much our animals are pumped with anti-biotics, be prepared to have a huge amount of chemicals in these two.

    The liver stores the toxins that the kidney cannot dispose. I would not touch liver if it was from anything other than a NEWBORN animal.

  118. I grew up eating heart, lightly floured, salted a peppered and gently fried. Mother fixed beef tongue by boiling it in the deep well in the stove, with lots of garlic, celery onions and salt & pepper. When the tongue was done she put it on a cutting board, let it cool slightly then stripped the skin off. Meanwhile she boiled potatoes in the liquid that was left from the tongue, tossed a salad and sliced the tongue from tip to the back of the tongue. She served the smallest tenderest portions at the table and saved the bigger back slices for sandwiches the next day. YUM!!
    She fixed liver the standard way at the time fried with bacon and onions but we kids didn’t ever really like it so she finally stopped. As a teen I bought kidneys and cooked them once for dinner. The family was fine with them. At the time they instructed you to boil them gently in salted water to remove the “piss”. The only thing I didn’t like about them at the time was the smell while they went through that process.
    Mother also fried us chicken gizzards once in a while. A real treat.
    My dad and mom were raised on the above plus brains, head cheese, cheek meat, sweetbreads, fresh eggs, and a daily dose of cod liver oil.
    I’d like to get back to organ meats and offal again adding a few things that I’ve never tried.

  119. You can also make liver into pate. Heart is really delicious and one of the best parts. Kidneys are good, too. I use the lungs, too. The dog and cat love them. I use it for pate or also ground up with rice.

  120. My kids love ox heart either cooked in a bolognese style sauce or into a casserole. They don’t know it’s heart it’s very steak-like :D:D

    Not primal I know, but son loves it in a tomatoe-y sauce (in slow cooker) wrapped in tortilla

    So cheap! love it.

  121. I eat organ mean. only the brain gave me some icky feeling, don’t know if i will ever warm up to it. i have not eaten the sweetbread before, maybe i will try it some day. Nice article and enlightening.

  122. Found this a long time after its original posting.Some memories about organ meats….As a boy, loved steak and kidney (still do ) ; loved lambs brains (can’t do ) ;didn’t like liver till a Kiwi guy cooked it for me with bacon, onions and mushrooms- delish! Worked in a butcher’s after school and on weekends during high school – made lots of mince meat. If it was too fatty and pale I would run it through again with lots of beef hearts to make it redder. My granny used to make potted meat,which was a combination of ox tongue,ox tail and pig cheek, cooked slowly then put into a tin like meatloaf to set,then eaten cold in slices.My dad loved this..She also cooked him tripe and onions a lot ( probably to nudge him to marry her daughter ! It worked ! )

  123. Does anyone know where I can get grass fed bison, cow, or lamb brain online or through mail? Thank you very much

  124. You lost me at brains and tripe. Liver, heart, kidneys.. totally willing to try. Sweetbreads? Eh.. maybe.

  125. I’m really trying to force myself to try new things during my current 21 day challenge but this article is making the hard boiled eggs I just ate threaten to come back up… I could really use some recipes for beginners. Any suggestions?

  126. Where can you get organic organs? I’m pretty sure Walmart won’t have any…

  127. my mother cooked beef heart stuffed with oysters,superb
    unfortunatley Ive lost the recipe.Any one no of it

  128. I’m glad MDA got me into eating organ meat. I also eat more marrow and gristle/collagen/gelatin now.
    Liver is now a regular part of my diet. I’ve had beef, pork, chicken, and cod liver that I can remember and be sure of at the moment, and maybe sardine liver – there are some organs in there I can’t identify. I like pork liver pate the most so far.
    I’ve had beef kidney a couple times. It doesn’t taste much different from regular beef muscle except it had a weird, slightly spaghetti taste to it. Maybe it’s because the cows were grain-fed and some grain constituents built up in their kidneys. Then again the grain-fed beef liver I had never tasted of grain and the likely soy- and corn-fed pork liver I had didn’t taste like those.
    I’ve had chicken hearts, which were pretty good.
    The offal I’m really eager to try is brain. I’m excited for it. I think I’ll ask my dad to try to get some if he goes to the butcher any time soon since I’ll be living with him for about the next two weeks, or after I get my next paycheck (“disability” – hah! – playcheck) at the end of the month / start of next month I’ll go to a butcher and then cook some up in the shelter kitchen, and seriously gross out some of the people there. I’ll probably eat a little bit raw in front of them.

  129. Hi
    Was hoping to read something about tendon…in Hungary they eat a lot of veal tendon, crumbed and fried and it’s delicious. I was googling around to learn more about the nutrition factor but of course, funnily enough, most sites talk about it as dog food! 🙁

  130. I absolutely love tripe, my mother cooks it in soup and when I visited South Africa they cooked it in a type of stewed dish served with a starchy accompaniment similar to mash potatoes. It was the heavenly. Not too keen on any other offal meat except chicken liver pate, yummy.

  131. I eat offal all the time…….you get used to it and actually start liking it.

    I have beef liver and tongue in my freezer for next week……eat heart all the time.

  132. Liver is delicious, IMO. I used to always stop at Shoney’s for grilled liver and onions, until they took it off the menu and replaced it with the same stuff that everyone else has on their menus. No reason now to stop at Shoney’s

    Anyway, beef liver or chicken liver either one – fry it up in some oil and have some onions frying along side. I may have to have it for dinner tomorrow now that you have me thinking about it.

  133. I grew up eating most of these organs and they are all very tasty.

  134. All of those are very common in our diet in Argentina. Tasty too!