Discovering Offals


There are tongues staring at me from my fridge. 2 beef tongues to be exact. 

Don’t look at me like I’m crazy, I think they look tasty. I am enjoying the relative novelty of them.  

Sometimes it can be surprisingly hard to track down your favorite foods, or just as hard to branch out from a food rut. Organ meats excite very few people, but put a couple of food crazies in a room and we start clucking.  Upon discovering a new found source for larger and more unusual cuts of meat, I want to place an order. One of everything! You mean I have to pay? Good thing offals are cheap.  

Offal is the term for most of the organs and entrails of a butchered animal, almost anything that is not muscle or bone. So named because they have off-fall[en] or fallen off during the butchering process and become refuse, garbage, and generally considered less desirable. But what is one mans trash is another mans treasure, and offals of every variety are a delicacy somewhere. In many parts of the world, offals are used for healing and ritual, such as digested according to yin and yang in eastern medicine and fertility rituals of Africa and South America. 

Now I have ordered lots of organ meat. For me, lots of organs are a couple of tongues, a liver, sweet breads, and pork cheeks. Ok, so the cheeks are not organs but they were fun sounding.  A friend of mine also placed an order for all of the above (minus the pork cheeks), but she wanted offals I never thought of cooking like kidney, heart, and lung.  We had quite the assortment. And boy was I excited to play with my food!  

I had big plans for the tongue. Tacos lengua. Yum! This dish brings me to Mexico. The first time I ate tacos lengua, I was in an outdoor market in Guadalajara and each two-bite taco was 35 cents. We feasted on tacos of every meaty variety, each one heavily seasoned with cilantro, raw onion, and lime. Nibbles from heaven I tell you! 

Tacos might be the first time I was served innards that were truly tasty.  I soon wanted to try all the tasty bits I might be missing.  The first thing to come out of my offal order was an enormous liver that I split with a friend. While paring the enormous half a liver into more reasonable single serving storage sizes, we decided to give our meat a try.  

sliced raw liver

 

I placed two 1/2” thick slices of liver into ¾ cup milk to soak. I have soaked them in milk because dairy is a neutralizer for things like fishy fish, and organey organs. 

While the liver soaks, 

Render 3 slices of bacon, remove bacon from grease, chop and reserve. 

Slice 1 medium onion thin and fry in bacon fat till golden and soft. Remove from pan and reserve. 

Add a pat of butter to the pan. 

Remove liver slices from milk and pat dry. Dredge slices in ¾ cup flour that has been heavily seasoned with salt/pepper. 

Place coated liver into pan and sear for 1-3 minutes on each side, depending on desired doneness. Remove cooked slices and place on plate to keep warm. 

Add reserved bacon and onion back to the pan. Stirring, add ¼ cup port wine and ¼ cup beef broth. Scrape up all the flavorful bits and let sauce reduce until it coats the spoon. 

Pour onions and sauce over slices of liver and serve with mashed potatoes.  

Not the most beautiful meal in the world but very satisfying. 

That was our 20 minute meal for lunch, just a small sampling of the first round of organs! It will take much effort not to make everything into tacos… because you can never go wrong with tacos.