Posts Tagged ‘Offal’

So as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve haven’t really written anything in over a month now. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to; Writing has always given me a good way to de-stress and get my ideas out on the page when my brain works faster than I’d like it to. Work has just gotten super busy lately, and pretty much all of my free time has been taking up just trying to recuperate. On the plus side, being busy at work is something I really enjoy, and not something I’ve had since moving from the Burlington area last fall, so it’s nice to have that rush of adrenaline back into my daily routine. But I’ve been kicking myself for not keeping up with getting things written. I’ve still been plugging away at Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge and if you’ve been following along on Instagram or Facebook, I’ve had some fun working up some recipes with Berries, Garlic, and Vanilla, as well as some Dim Sum and Charcuterie.

This week was an especially fun theme for the challenge: Inspired by Magic. This year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone in the UK, and on Monday the Boy Who Lived celebrated his 37th birthday. Growing up, I was immediately enthralled by the series. Vast, fantastic landscapes and settings, deep character development, and the exploration of ideas and lessons that still resonate to this day. I want to get a big, non-food-related piece written for the US 20th anniversary next year, but that’s still quite a way away.

The wizarding world is full of amazing foods; Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Treacle Tarts, chocolates, candies, you name it. I’ve never had a super strong arsenal of dessert recipes, but in the past year or two I’ve definitely made some leaps and bounds. While desserts would have been a fairly easy route to go, I dug deep for a cool recipe that would kind of push my boundaries in a different direction.

The morning of Halloween, 1492, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington was set to be executed, having attempted to cast a tooth-straightening spell on an assistant of King Henvry VII the previous evening. After 47 hacks into his neck with a blunt axe, Sir Nicholas’ head was left dangling from his body by no more than an inch of flesh. Returning as a ghost, “Nearly-Headless” Nick took up residence as the ghost of Gryffindor Tower at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

To commemorate his 500th Deathday, Sir Nicholas held a party and feast in “one of the roomier dungeons” at Hogwarts, inviting the main trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as well as a host of notable deceased: the Bloody Baron, the Fat Friar, the Grey Lady, the Wailing Widow, Peeves and Moaning Myrtle. It would go without saying that ghosts can’t eat or taste food, so the menu consisted of food smelling so foul they could almost taste it: Moldy bread, stinking salmon, fungus-covered peanuts, and the pièce de résistance, Maggoty Haggis.


Haggis is one of those dishes that, whether or not you’ve eaten it, you’d probably assume is super disgusting. It kind of has that reputation of being a bunch of gross things (organ meats) stuffed into an even grosser thing (stomach) and cooked for a thousand years. I was lucky enough to get a bunch of offal from Howvale Farm, so I figured it was time to finally try this out for myself.

When it comes down to it, haggis is largely similar to black pudding: a loosely bound meat sausage with oats. I took lamb heart, liver and tongue and simmered them in a bit of beef stock until tender, then ground it together with some onion and spices. Oats and the cooking liquid bring it together into a workable dough (I don’t know if that’s the word I mean). Not having a stomach to stuff the mixture into, I baked it off like a meatloaf until browned and crispy.

Admittedly, I was certain that this was going to be as gross as it’s always made out to be. But one bite in and I was singing a different tune. Super savory, fatty, and delicious; Imagine if your favorite meatloaf had a baby with leftover Thanksgiving stuffing. As far as the “maggoty” aspect goes, I had a package of barbecue-seasoned larva that I got for Christmas, which provided a nice salty crunch. Now that I know how great this dish itself is, I think I’m going to start looking for a stomach to try it again.

makes 1 loaf

  • Liver*, 8 ounces
  • Heart*, 8 ounces
  • Tongue*, 8 ounces
  • Beef Stock, 2 quarts
  • Vidalia Onion, 4 each
  • Pork Lard or Beef Suet, 8 ounces, diced
  • Rolled Oats (not instant), 8 ounces
  • Sage, dried, 1 tablespoon
  • Allspice, ground, 2 tablespoons
  • Coriander, ground, 2 teaspoons
  • Kosher Salt & ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Maggots, to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F. In a medium-sized pot, combine heart, liver, tongue, 1 chopped onion and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender. Remove meat from stock. Roughly chop heat and liver. Remove membrane from tongue and roughly chop. Process meat, 3 chopped onions and fat through medium die of a meat grinder**. Add oats and spices to meat mixture, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Add enough cooking liquid to the mixture to form a workable dough. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease. Transfer meat mixture to baking sheet and form into a tight loaf. Bake at 425F 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

*Organ meats from any animal can be used, but you want about 1.5lb total
**If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can also coarsly grind using a food processor



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I’ve been in kind of a funk lately. Lots of stress in my personal and professional life have drained me of pretty much all energy or ambition to do anything. But in that all, I still have the few things that I can always find enjoyment in: cooking, writing, and listening to music (a nice beer or two never hurts either). The theme for the 46th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge was one of my favorite subjects, and it was just what I needed to try and bring myself back into spirits.

 To me, rustic food brings about fond memories of home cooking and growing up in a substantially agricultural community. To me, rustic cuisine means a lot of things. It means uncomplicated, simple; an intentional lack of refinement. Perfectly imperfect. The kind of food that fills your stomach and warms your soul. For one reason or another, one dish stick out in my mind as incredibly comforting and homeful.


Chicken liver pâté isn’t a dish that I grew up eating. I was introduced to the idea while I was in college and surrounded by all that is French cuisine. A simple preparation of what some consider to be the garbage parts of an animal, liver pâté can be found across the French countryside just as easily as it can be found in the finest restaurants in Paris. When I was younger, I was an incredibly picky eater and even the thought of something with liver would turn my stomach. However, once I discovered this delicacy, I knew that it would always hold a special place in my heart, rousing daydreams of being back in a more rural, imperfect setting and just relaxing.

Chicken Liver Pâté

makes about 2 cups

  • Butter, 2 tablespoons
  • Shallot, thinly sliced, 3 each
  • Garlic, minced, 2 cloves
  • Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, chopped, 1 each
  • Thyme, chopped, 2 tablespoons plus more to garnish
  • Chicken Livers, cleaned, 1.25 pounds
  • Cognac*, 2 tablespoons
  • Heavy Cream, as needed

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, apple and thyme and cook until apples and onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add livers and cook until firm and still pink in the middle. Add cognac to deglaze the pan, then remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until blended, but still chunky, adding heavy cream as needed to moisten. Serve over toasted baguette garnished with chopped thyme.

*Cognac is pretty traditional in French iterations of pâté. Feel free to use whatever liquor you prefer and/or have on hand.

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When I was younger, I couldn’t stand horror movies. I don’t know what it was. I was always interested in creepy and weird and spooky things, but for some reasons horror movies always terrified me to no end. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve actually come to really enjoy horror movies. Halloween is my favorite time of the year, and I’ve made it a tradition to watch more than a few scary flicks throughout the month. While I missed out on writing for the actual day itself, the 44th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge celebrates all that is halloween with dishes inspired by horror movies!

One of my favorite horror films I had actually not seen until just a few years ago. Released in 1991, The Silence of the Lambs follows young FBI Agent Clarice Starling in her attempt to apprehend a serial killer wanted by the bureau. In order to gain information about the killer, Starling interviews famed psychiatrist, and infamous cannibalistic killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In one of their many meetings, Lecter drops one of the most famous lines in all of cinema, in which he tells Clarice about a census taker and how he “ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”.  Clearly, this week is an easy excuse to cook Dr. Lecter’s famous meal.

Liver with Fava Beans and a nice Chianti

While it may have just seemed like a verbose way of describing how to cook another human being, there may actually be some science behind the combination of liver, fava beans, and Chianti. One of the first types of antidepressant treatments developed were MAO Inhibitors, a drug that breaks down the enzyme that contributes to depression. Patients institutionalized in psychiatric hospitals were regularly treated with this drug to sedate and calm them down. The Mayo Clinic has this to say about MAO Inhibitors and Tyramine:

“MAOIs block an enzyme called monoamine oxidase, which breaks down excess tyramine in the body. Blocking this enzyme helps relieve depression. However, tyramine can quickly reach dangerous levels if you eat high tyramine foods, which may cause a spike in blood pressure and require emergency treatment.”

As it so happens, liver, fava beans and red wine all contain high amounts of Tyramine, and would strictly prohibited in the diet of psychiatric patients, such as Dr. Lecter. It would seem fitting that upon release from the institution, the good doctor would indulge in the foods he was denied, such as fine wine and human flesh.

Rather than the more familiar organ, I decided to cook a calf’s liver. I enjoy cooking offals, but liver is one of those things that’s always been strange to me. The texture is weird, the flavor is unusual, all around weird. Soaking in milk is said to help take out some of that funk, so my liver took a quick bath in milk before getting season with salt and pepper and sous-vide for about an hour. After sous vide, I seared it until crispy in a cast iron pan with butter, then served them with a good helping of caramelized onions (my childhood self would kill me right now) For a sauce, I reduced a jug of shitty Chianti with some beef stock until it reached a nice glaze-y consistency. The fava beans were slowly simmered with some garlic and lemon until tender. Topped of with a nice bottle of Chianti, this was actually a pretty great meal. Regardless of my feelings towards eating human meat (which are complicated to say the least), this is was a great substitution to channel my inner psycho killer. Happy Halloween Everyone!

Sous-Vide Calf’s Liver

makes about 2 portions

  • Calf’s Liver, about 8 ounces
  • Whole Milk, as needed
  • Kosher Salt, as needed
  • Black Pepper, ground, as needed
  • Butter, about 2 tablespoons
  • Chianti, 1 jug
  • Beef Stock, 32 oz

In a large stock pot, combine Chianti and beef stock. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and reduce until thickened and syrupy, about 2 hours. In a large dish, soak liver in whole milk for 30 minutes. Heat a circulated water bath to 63C. Remove liver from milk, season with salt and pepper, and seal in a vacuum pouch. Cook liver at 63C for 1 hour. Heat butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Remove liver from vacuum pouch and sear in butter until crisp and browned on all sides. Serve Hot.

Caramelized Onions

makes about 3 cups

  • Vidalia Onion, 2 each
  • Red Onion, 2 each
  • Cooking Oil, as needed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Thinly slice onions and combine. Blanch onions in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain onions from water and allow to dry. Return pot to heat and add cooking oil. Add onions and cook over low heat until deep brown, about 30 minutes.

Braised Fava Beans

makes about 3 cups

  • Fava Beans (Bob’s Red Mill Brand), 1 cup
  • Water, 3-4 cups
  • Lemon, 1 each
  • Garlic, 4 cloves
  • Kosher Salt, as needed

Combine fava beans, water, lemon and garlic in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until beans are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.

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Sometimes, without even trying to, you can make some of the best food in the world. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve rummaged through the kitchen after a few drinks, only to end up with something totally unexpected and awesome. On the contrary though, it’s also totally possible that through no fault of your own, your food can come out less than desirable. Unfortunately, the halfway mark of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge happened to be one of those instances.

Like many Asian cultures, the cuisine of the Philippines is a unique mixture between indigenous culture and colonial influences. While most of the region was settled by the French and English, the Philippines was largely colonized by the Spanish, and their cuisine definitely shows it. One dish that particularly highlights their Spanish heritage is a crispy fried pig’s foot known as Pata.

crispy pata

In pretty much every part of the world besides America, it’s common to use absolutely every part of an animal possible in order to minimize waste. In the Philippines, where farmland is minimal at best, the practice of snout-to-tail cooking that has become trendy in the States is little more than second nature. Traditionally, the feet are simmered until tender with spices and, of all things, lemon-lime soda. All the recipes I found called for either Sprite or 7-Up, with none actually giving an explanation as to why. Since I’ve had varying degrees of luck with cooking feet, hocks, and other cuts with high amounts of cartilage and bone, I decided to sous-vide the pig’s feet with all the traditional fixin’s: star anise, garlic, bay leaf, and the Sprite. A low temperature swim for 36 hours should have been more than enough to make the feet fall apart tender. After removing the vacuum pouch, the feet got deep fried until golden and crispy. I was initially excited, since the feet look and smelled delicious. However, after a first bite my hopes quickly went out the window. The skin was tough and rubbery, while the rest of the foot had too much cartilage to yield any substantial portions. The few, little chunks of meat of managed to pick out were tender, juicy, and really flavorful, albeit few and far between. The saving grace of the dish was a traditional condiment of pickled papaya and vegetables. Sweet, spicy and sour, it would have been the perfect complement to the feet, had the feet been any good. And maybe it’s just me. If you’re into pig feet and know how to eat them, you would probably love this recipe. It’s just really not for me.

Crispy Pata

makes 2 portions

  • Pig’s Feet,cleaned and split, 2 each
  • Sprite or 7-Up, 12oz
  • Star Anise, 2 each
  • Garlic, 2 cloves
  • Bay Leaf, 2 each
  • Black Peppercorns, 1 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt, 2 teaspoons
  • Frying Oil, as needed

Vacuum seal pig’s feet with soda, spices and salt. Cook in a 143F water bath for 36 hours. Heat frying oil to 350F. Remove pig’s feet from vacuum bag and allow to cool. Fry feet until crispy, about 3 minutes.

Atsarang Papaya

makes about 1 quart

  • Green Papaya, seeded, shredded, 1 each
  • Carrot, shredded, 1 each
  • Cucumber, sliced, 1 each
  • Raisins, 1/2 cup
  • Dried Chili, 2 each
  • Shallot, thinly sliced, 1 each
  • White Vinegar, 1 cup
  • Granulated Sugar, 1 cup
  • Garlic, 2 cloves
  • Ginger, 1 inch

In a canning jar, combine papaya, carrot, cucumber, raisins, chilies and shallot. In a sauce pot, combine vinegar, sugar, garlic and ginger. Bring vinegar to a boil and remove from heat. Pour hot vinegar over vegetables and seal jar. Let sit 2 days before serving.

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This week has been hectic to say the least, so I’m creeping in this post right at the last minute. I’m lucky enough to be on the opening crew for Pascolo Ristorante, the newest installment from the locally renowned Farmhouse Group, and we’ve been super busy cranking out pastas, sauces and mountains of cheeses for hungry diners. Work life aside though, the 18th week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge is here! This week’s theme: Peruvian Cuisine

As is usually the case with the 52 Weeks challenge, I haven’t had much exposure to Peruvian cuisine in the past, or really any of the various South American cuisines. Like many cuisines around the globe, Peruvian cuisine is indicative of it’s historical natives as well as modern immigrants. Drawing influences from the Spanish, Inca, Africans, and even the Chinese, the cuisine of Peru is truly a global melting pot. As with much of the world, Peru boasts street vendors aplenty, and a staple of the small carts are anticuchos, meat and vegetable skewers marinated in chiles and spices, then grilled over an open flame. These can be made with any number of meats, or even fish or just vegetables, but the most common form of anticuchos features beef or veal heart. Luckily, the local grocery store carries a wide array of offals, so I had the chance to pick up a heart and try my own Anticuchos de Corazon!


Heart is a weird muscle to work with. If you get the whole organ, you need to remove and sinue, excess fat and remaining valves before cooking it whatever way you choose. Luckily, the package I got was cleaned and ready to go. In Peru, aji panca is the chili of choice. With that not available here in the great white north, habanero works as an equal substitute. The pieces of heart of got an overnight marinade with olive oil, vinegar, spices and ground chilies, then skewered with red pepper and grilled until juicy and tender. Most people will shy away from organ meats at first glance, but beef heart especially carries such a rich beefy flavor that it’s definitely something to try given the opportunity. There’s a bit more of a chew to it than most cuts of beef, but if prepared properly can be incredibly tender and delicious. The flavor of the chilies came through really well in the marinade, without the strong burn that habaneros are known for. In Peru, anticuchos are typically served with roasted corn and/or potatoes, but I made mine for breakfast, so runny eggs were the perfect accompaniment.

Anticuchos de Corazon

makes 5-6 skewers

  • Habanero Chili, seeded, 2 each
  • Garlic, peeled, 2 cloves
  • Oregano, dried, 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cumin Seeds, 1 teaspoon
  • Red Wine Vinegar, 1/4 cup
  • Olive Oil, 1/2 cup
  • Beef Heart*, cleaned, cut into chunks, 1 each
  • Red Bell Pepper, seeded, cut into chunks, 1 each

In a mortal and pestle or food processor, grind chilies, garlic, oregano, salt and cumin seed until a paste forms. Add vinegar and oil, mixing to combine. Coat beef chunks with marinade and allow to marinate overnight. Take wooden skewers and soak them in water overnight. Heat a grill to high heat. Make skewers alternating between beef and peppers. Grill skewers until beef is firm, but still yields juices when pressed, about 4-6 minutes on heat side.

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