I'm an offal newbie, and plan to very slowly work my way down the list after the liver pate phase. What offal have you tried, in what form, and what does your offal ranking list look like?
Also, do you eat offal because it's healthy or because you just love the taste so much?
There seems to be some kind of anti-liver bias on our website. What's going on here everybody? [Teasing.]
I love, love, love beef liver. In fact, I generally make myself eat it less than I otherwise would because I was influenced by a Stephan post from a while back. He compares liver to other foods in terms of copper content and after finding that it pretty much exceeds the others by a factor of ten, he concludes:
Note that beef liver is off the chart at 488 percent of the USDA recommended daily allowance. I don't know if you'd want to sit down and eat a quarter pound of beef liver, but you get the picture. Beef liver is nature's multivitamin: hands down the Most Nutritious Food in the World. That's because it acts as a storage depot for a number of important micronutrients, as well as being a biochemical factory that requires a large amount of B vitamins to function. You can see that muscle tissue isn't a great source of copper compared to other organs, and this holds true for other micronutrients as well.
Beef liver is so full of micronutrients, it shouldn't be eaten every day. Think of it in terms of the composition of a cow's body. The edible carcass is mostly muscle, but a significant portion is liver. I think it makes sense to eat some form of liver about once per week.
I even eat my beef liver straight up, just fried in butter or tallow, and still raw/rare in the center.
Rest of my answer: I also like kidney, but beef kidney I find so-so and lamb kidney a lot tastier. Could have been some sampling error there.
Tongue I don't really consider an organ meat. As "aaa" pointed out below, it's really just another muscle, which makes me wonder if there's really anything in there that's not in other muscle cuts of meat (again, see my Stephan quote).
Sweetbreads are delicious, and I don't think it's just because they're usually fried in something delicious. I really think that the thymus gland does taste a little bit sweet, and that that's the origin of the name.
Bone marrow, of course, but there is the dispute about whether that counts.
Most of the other ones I guess I've never tried. But I would try anything and wouldn't be surprised if I get the chance soon; organ meats are all the rage at Chicago restaurants right now. (I assume it's just following some New York trend, but there might also be some genuine Chicago roots in there too, since we are the city of meat.) I'm especially interested in brains because of all the speculation about them in the paleo narrative.
Liver pate is ok. I dilute it a lot. Kidneys are gross, not even worth it. Heart is ok, I cooked a curry which was good because it disguised the taste a bit. Bone marrow, if it counts, is amazing. So so good. Tongue is good as long as you don't know what it is beforehand :).
I will never, ever try brains. They are apparently soft and pudding like.
In order, my favorites:
Chicken liver mousse
beef or lamb heart fried in bacon grease
lamb or pork tongue
pork spleen wrapped in bacon
I would eat all these things even if not healthy, they are delicious. I force myself to eat beef liver occasionally. I'm still searching for that magical way to eat liver and make it palatable. Chicken liver is a whole different story, I love em. Bone marrow is extra delicious, but it's at the bottom of my list b/c it's not the same without some sourdough toast points or french bread to counter that gooey fatty goodness. I'll add it to soups sometimes, but it's not the same.
Heart has possibly the least organy flavor of all, you can pan fry it like steak and it's quite good.
I brought home some goat organs not too long ago from a friend's farm, including the kidneys, thought I'd give it a try. The stuff smelled like a public men's room, there was no way it was happening!
Newbies should start with muscle organs, tongue and heart, those are very similar to meat. Then try liver, it is the most tolerated non-muscle organ. If you can stomach liver then you can try kidneys, spleen, brains. I don't consider marrow an organ, more like fat source.
Testicles taste good but it's a mental thing.
in order of like from most to least:
bone marrow with sea salt, pates, heart (seared rare), trotters (hard to find but great if well made.. the definition of unctuous), crispy pig's tail, headcheese, lamb or veal kidneys, mexican style tripe soup (menudo) with lime (my Mom always made tripe soup and I was never a fan until i had a good Mexican style version), chicken livers sauteed with shallots and parsley deglazed with a splash of brandy (yum!), sweetbreads, brains (they're ok, i want to give them another shot), beef liver, other kinds of kidneys.
If you want to try kidneys, i'd recommend starting with lamb and you could try a deviled kidney recipe. Lamb kidneys are mild in flavor and I like them very much, but the deviled recipe will make them more beginner friendly.
edit: i can say almost all offal I eat it because I genuinely think it's delicious (i have eaten some that I got for free that isn't top of my list, like pork kidneys or beef liver). But then again, I'm a pretty decent cook and I know what to do with it. That makes a big, big difference. Chris Cosentino's blog "Offal Good" is a great resource. Amazing recipe for heart and he shows you how to trim it properly in a video, which is nice.
My top 3 are probably calve's liver, chicken livers, and properly prepared tripe. If tongue and bone marrow count, I'd add those. I like heart too (venison, beef, or pig), but it is really just a tough muscle so isn't really offal.
A trick for liver is to soak it in lemon juice for about 30 minutes before cooking it, this cuts out many of the "off" flavors and also helps to expel any residual toxins that might be present. Fried in bacon grease or lard and left medium-pink in the middle it is delicious.
I agree with what the previous poster said about liver being nature's multi-vitamin. I get liver cravings at least a few times a year, and it is the only dish that, about halfway through a portion, I feel that "kapow" of satiety, I just feel that my body is rapidly absorbing the nutrients.
Chicken livers are so absurdly easy to prepare, and cheap, that they should be in the heavy rotation. You can make a pate in literally a few minutes by sauteeing them with onions, garlic, a bay leaf, maybe some other spices, and giving it a whirl in the food pro. This goes particularly well with raspberry jelly (unsweetened of course).
Tripe when it is well prepared is one of my all time favorite foods, if done right it tastes like perfectly al dente noodles (but without the yucky starches). When not so well done, it tastes like rubber. Preparing and cooking it is both labor intensive and stinky, so I try to find it when I go out. Of course ethnic restaurants are the only way to go because lame Americans don't eat it.
I like kidneys well enough but even with perfect preparation they smell and taste faintly of urine.
I was in Chinatown recently and ordered something billed as "crispy pig intestine". I was hoping for something along the lines of cracklins, but it turns out it was the (too-) briefly fried LOWER intestine of the pig. Yep, it smelled and tasted faintly of pig poop, and was chewy and rubbery to boot. Don't think I'll be ordering that one again.
If you're a fan of the offal you have to check out this blog, she has some great preparations of brain, kidney, sweetbreads and pig face (yep, pig face):
Like a lot, no specific order: intestines, lungs, bone marrow, tongue, tripe (I rarely eat the first two and only in restaurants)
Like somehow: kidneys, heart, brain (rarely and only in restaurants)
Dislike but eat: liver (only cooked by myself, as I need to work very hard to disguise the taste. Ironically, the offal I eat more often)
@ Kamal, in a previous question I read you are from India. I have spent many years there, Throughout India there is a tradition to eat goat offal in curry. It is very delicious. The focus is on brain,liver, kidneys and testicles. If you have family or friends from there who know traditional cooking and if you like curry - that may be a great place to start.
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