Offal A Guide To Buying, Preparing and Cooking

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For many, Offal represents the ghoulish side of meat eating, the very thought of eating an animals organs and glands is a taste too far. I have long believed that people’s pre-conceived ideas about eating offal determine weather or not they will ever eat it. Perhaps more than any other food offal divides public opinion straight down the middle.

Offal, or variety meats as they are known in America is a term used for the various internal organs of the animal’s carcase. These meats provide the cook with a whole range of flavour tones and textures that can be served alone with simple flavours or as an integral part of a dish using other parts from the same animal. The term offal covers a number of parts and public opinion on them varies greatly. Generally speaking, a dish of liver and onions would not raise an eyebrow, indeed many people would have considered this to be a nutritional dish of low cost eaten at home on a regular basis. If, however brains replaced the liver then the reaction would be considerably different.

Offal suffers greatly from preconceived ideas generally as a result of eating it badly cooked in our childhood and the memory has stuck. Over or under cooking offal is easily (and often) done, tails should be cooked long and slow and kidneys sautéed quickly to medium rare or longer until very tender but not somewhere in between. Much is made of keeping dishes simple and offal is no exception. Offal imparts unique flavours into dishes and therefore a splash of wine or vinegar, some fried sage or slow cooked onions are often all that is needed to showcase the meat. There is much more to offal than liver and kidneys, click on the links below for a guide to varieties, preparing and cooking.

Tongue
Liver
Heart
Kidneys
Cheek
Tail
Brains
Trotters
Fries
Sweetbreads
Caul
Foie Gras
Giblets
Tripe and Intestines
Head
Ears

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