Something Offal

Got heart? Photo by Jennifer May


The February Chronogram is out, and this time around I had an offal-cooking session with Rich Reeve of Elephant in Kingston. Rich cooks his ass off every night, turning out seriously good tapas from two little hot plates and a toaster oven. He is more punk rock than you are. He also knows his way around an animal, using everything in creative and highly enticing ways.

The link is here. Do yourself a favor and try one of the recipes. If you live in the area, go see Rich and let him show you how rewarding the organs and off-cuts can be to cook and eat. If you don’t, hit up a local high-quality ethnic restaurant and try whatever they’re making. If you’re a carnivore, you have no excuse. You either eat animals or you don’t. If you’re too squeamish, be a vegetarian.

I also have it on good authority that six-year-olds love bone marrow. Picture after the jump.

Milo's favorite: roasted marrow. Photo by Jennifer May

I can’t embed a link in the photo captions, so here’s the link to Jen’s site, and this is to her blog. She’s a joy to work with and a total pro.

15 comments to Something Offal

  • Interesting. I eat some innards but not others. Love liver if cooked right but kidneys make my stomach turn – they smell like urine to me. Tongue, okay, but not the day I prepared it – too vivid. Sweetbreads – delish if well prepared – downright disgusting otherwise. Brains, hearts, tripe – uh, no thanks. I guess it depends on what one was raised eating and the rest, not so much.

  • But to say that everyone who eats meat must eat _all_ the meats…even if you don’t like them? A little too rigid a viewpoint for me.

  • Janet

    I love liver (cooked it for Sunday dinner) and kidneys, but have never tried any other offals. Maybe one day if I find really good recipes.

  • Peter

    Zoomie: I bet that if someone fed you some of those things without telling you what they were beforehand you’d be surprised at how much you liked them. Some others, maybe not so much. I didn’t say all; I just said more. I’m just fed up with “carnivores” who gag at the thought of anything beyond steaks and chops and such. I’m not a big cow’s liver fan, but chicken and duck livers I love.

    Janet: Try the Henderson books; they’re an excellent place to start.

  • I love sausages and hot dogs, and I love most wursts, so I know I eat my fair share of offal. I have two packs of heart and two of liver (both beef) in my freezer from the 1/4 I recently bought – the gals I split with wanted nothing to do with them. I’ll probably go French on them.

    I don’t really care for tripe, and I’ve tried in several times, prepared different ways (banh mi, pho and tacos). The texture is what holds me up. Texture is huge – natto, mountain yam and okra (any way but fried) are similarly off-putting for me because of texture.

  • Peter

    It’s funny; natto is a bit slimy, but yam and okra (prepared properly) don’t bother me- but emphasis on prepared properly, I guess. And that’s true for the organs, too; when you do cook the heart, cook it rare. I think a lot of these tastes are developed early in life, and can be harder to acquire later on. And we all have tastes. My only quarrel is with people who object to the idea of something without having tried it even once. And again, it sure helps when it’s prepared in the best possible way.

  • I’m surprised that heart would be good rare – it’s so muscular, it would seem that long, slow cooking would be best. Obviously, that’s an idea from a woman who has never tried it. Chicken hearts, yes, but not larger animals as yet. I agree about textures being so important. My mother gave me sweetbreads without telling me what they were and I nearly gagged; but another time, I tried them on My Beloved’s recommendation and they were delicious. Hers were soft and slimy; his were crisped on the outside, creamy within. Huge difference.

  • Peter

    Yup. Crispy and creamy tends to trump slimy. According to Rich, slow-cooked heart is not good. Metallic and unpleasant. Very hot pan, small cubes or strips of meat, hard sear on the outside and bright red inside. A good ratio of surface area to volume is key. Such tacos.

  • agree that it’s all about the preparation, even though I will definitely eat anything. To wit, we tried to make pigs ears a la plancha like we’d had in madrid but they were gag-inducing. I would also add that we had the most spectacular beef heart at the French Laundry – it was done pastrami style. Then again, Thomas Keller wouldn’t serve them if he couldn’t pull it off.

  • Thanks so much for the visit and the custard tip… I will insert a note about it… bubbles on one’s custard are not welcome!

    Great blog you have here, love your energy and curiosity… the images are very fine.. if a little daunting… that is quite a heart you have in your hands… I see a viral valentine’s video in the making!
    I look forward to many visits.

  • Peter

    Jonny: Next time confit the ears first, or braise them super-low for hours. I’m guessing the heart was cold-smoked and sous-vided; I may try that with the other one in my freezer.

    Deana: Those are Rich’s hands, actually, but it really would make a beautiful Valentine, wouldn’t it?

  • Marrow was a favorite in our household growing up. We called it Eskimo candy.

  • Peter

    I told Milo years ago that Eskimos love the eyeballs of cooked fish. Since then, he always asks for the eyes whenever I bake a whole trout.

  • Yup, He Who Will Not Be Ignored is a total bone marrow slut. Of course, his first taste was at St. John, but he’s judged my version to be “pretty good.”

  • Peter

    That’s high praise. One of the best things about marrow is that it’s pretty hard to do wrong.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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