I keep reading here how people eat organ meat on a regular basis. Is it really that essential? If so, can I get whatever it is they offer in some other way, like in a pill?
I know Europeans and Asians eat sheep testicles, Icelanders love putrid rotten shark, Australians dig their witchety grubs, and I say bully for them, aren’t we humans wonderful omnivores, but this puppy is just not going there. Is there anything really wrong with respecting deep, visceral food aversions?
Maybe if someone else did the cooking, I’d be fine with organ meat, even if I found out after the fact (say they slipped it into my chili), but I’m the cook around here and I can’t even think about this stuff, much less handle it raw, without getting the heebie jeebies. It's more a texture than a taste thing, because I also can't deal with oysters, mussels, clams - anything slimy. And yes, this is a serious question!
EDIT: have people been able to overcome food aversions by force of willpower? How long does it take?
It does take some time to eat something that you don't have a taste for. The best you can do is to realize that hunting requires killing, and that wasting parts of the animal you have an aversion to is just that: a huge waste.
Also understanding that those animal parts are good for you is helpful at a high prefrontal cortex, in the same way that doing something you might not have initially liked, such as exercise, is also good for you, and then after having done it for a while, seen that you now enjoy it. But also understanding it at a visceral, emotional level is key, which is why you're here asking this question.
That said, finding a good way to cook organs in a way to make them more palatable for yourself is the key.
There are other parts to try such as tongue, and heart, which are less offensive than liver or kidneys. (I still don't think I could bring myself to eating kidneys due to the smell.)
Liver is very edible if you have it as either Braunschweiger or Liverwurst, or pate, or if you cook it in various ways to change the flavor, or just mixing it into burgers
Then again, I can't stand the smell of lamb either, but I forced myself to get past that, and noticed that I felt amazingly great (calm, happy) after eating lamb. Probably something in the specific fats, so now I look forward to eating it. I masked it by adding a bit of ghee in the pan before reheating it, and some A1 on top, would help to add some mint, but didn't have any fresh mint at the time.
A few days ago I hid liverwurst in an Omlette (along with broccolli, cauliflower, bacon) and my kids loved it and wanted seconds. My wife made some noises about it, but then she saw me put it in and she's squeamish about liver.
A few months back, I tried heart, but failed at it and overcooked it and it turned out too rubbery. I'll have to find a better recipe for it so as to not overcook it next time.
While it's not the same kind of aversion you referred to, there is another, one I didn't even think I'd ever experience, but it struck me more than just the flavor of liver:
I recently bought bison tongue and wanted to cook it, but once thawed, i looked at it and immediately realized that this was attached to a living creature and felt a bit weird about it - I saw a playful buffalo running around in the grass, and using that same tongue to taste the grass it ate... But I worked through that "vision" by realizing that this animal was already gone, and the best thing I could do is not be sad for it, but rather honor it by not letting its tongue go to waste.
I think we're too used to muscle meats and too removed from life itself to fully understand the cycle of life at every level. Sure, at the highly removed, frontal cortex, we understand what meat is, but maybe not at a visceral level.
So I worked through that, went ahead and cooked it anyway, and had it with mustard and appreciated all that the animal was.
While I didn't exactly intend on deceiving the wife into thinking this wasn't corned beef, she just assumed it was and I just nodded adding it's actually bison, not beef. I think I'll tell her today it was actually tongue than muscle, but I can already hear her reaction. :)
It didn't exactly taste like corned beef, but it was very close. It certainly was a lot tastier than liver, and far too tender. It needed to be drier, and I should have used a lot more salt than I used. Maybe I can rescue this by salting and pan frying the slices in ghee. I should have followed this recipe. instead of attempting it up on my own.
Put this book on your wish list: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Sausage-Making-How-Techniques/dp/158017471X
Nobody said you have to eat it whole. I agree that if you didn't grow up on it, it's hard to get down. Making it into sausage is how I get around it.
I'm similar. I really have tried, but it's texture for me too. I'm going to start mincing offal & chucking it in with minced (ground) beef. I'm ok with kidney, but cannot do liver.
I am pretty sure that health food shops sell desiccated liver pills though. Perhaps I should invest too.
Heart is not at all like liver or kidney though fwiw. And, have you tried pâté? Pâté is just so yummy. Chicken liver pâté isn't as strong as pork liver pâté when homemade.
Well, I feel your pain. I'm getting my liver via US Wellness' braunschweiger as I'm not exactly the offal queen myself. That said, the reason you cannot respect your deep, visceral food aversions is because it's not ideal to get the fat soluble vitamins and minerals these foods provide in a pill (see food synergy).
I was listening to Chris Masterjohn's interview with Cary Nosler yesterday, and he pointed out that Weston Price found that a healthy culture got these from one of four sources (or a combination of these):
So, do you have to eat these things? No, plenty of folk go thru their lives avoiding them either due to choice or lack of access. Many do fine with supplements, like cod liver oil. But if you really want to achieve your optimal health, you'll work at getting over your aversion.
I like Travis' idea of having your butcher make sausages with liver and this thread has some other ideas, including one where you simply cut the liver up into tiny pieces, freeze it, and then take the frozen bits like pills.
For me, pork liver is awesome but I can't stand cow liver. I don't really get the 'slimy' thing though, when it's fully cooked, it's not slimy at all. I sometimes toss pork liver with a side vegetable, stir fried together. Throw some green pepper, onions or scallion(very little) if it doesn't smell good.
blame society as a whole. popular media always depicts the sad little freckle faced boy being forced to eat his liver. organ meat is what dogs and heathens eat; not us civilized folks.
I used to hate liver. I mean, REALLY hate it. It tasted like blood and was disgusting to me. This past year, realizing how good it was for you, I decided to try it one more time. The way I did it was to start out with about three pieces less than 1/2" square, of chicken liver, and frying it up with a whole lot of bacon. That and eggs was breakfast, and I gradually increased the amount of liver over a week or two. And I found out it wasn't that bad. So you can train yourself to eat things like that easier than you might think.
I will add that I think the kind of cooking makes a big difference: Liver that's overcooked is like leather and pretty bad. Good liver is a bit pinkish yet inside, and it melts like butter in your mouth.
I haven't ventured too much further inside of a carcass yet. Heart is good, but I haven't tried kidney, or tripe yet. I would have a difficult time with things like brain, I'm pretty sure, though.
Just keep trying things and you'll surprise yourself with what you might eat.
Post Thanksgiving experiment results: so I caught a Thanksgiving episode of Good Eats that had a recipe for making a gravy out of the giblets (complete with an annoying character screaming the word at every opportunity.)
But here's the rub, the stuff was so good, I could it eat it as if it were a "Cream of" style soup if it's not made too thick. I guess it could be called "Cream of Organs" soup.
I suspect you could use this recipe on beef/bison liver, heart, and something to make a stock out of, but you might have to be careful of the stronger flavor of beef/bison liver, so perhaps soak them in milk or something else to lessen the smell.
Alton Brown's recipe is here, and it's most certainly non paleo.
What I did instead: boiled the turkey neck (maybe replace with soup bones or bison oxtail) for a couple of hours with a carrot and half an onion (didn't have any celery handy), some bay leaves, salt, pepper, sage, peppercorns, etc. Added the giblets and let it simmer for another hour.
Then fished out the solids using a strainer, let the neck and gibblets and carrot cool. Discarded the rest. Stripped the meat off the neck and discarded the bones. Chopped the giblets, neck meat, and carrot finely, and added back to the liquid. Used an immersion blender to smooth it all out.
Then in a saute pan, melted some grassfed ghee and slowly whisked in some coconut flour to make a roux. Slowly added in a ladle or two of the liquid from the pot and kept on whisking it in. Once it it was smooth, poured the contents of the saute pan back into the stock pot, and buzzed it some more with the immersion blender until smooth.
Careful not to use too much coconut flour as it can easily turn into a thick gooey paste, plus it would add in too much carbs - I used about a quarter cup or less. Taste it and add some more salt/pepper as needed. Let it cool.
I was surprised that coconut flour could be used to thicken a gravy since there's no gluten, but there it was, worked wonderfully.
Word of warning, it looks an ugly gray, so maybe you might want to experiment and add something to turn it brown or red instead. Maybe some paprika if you don't mind nightshades. If you serve it as a soup, maybe top with some scallions or cilantro or parsley to take away the gray.
Obviously throw in some chunks of muscle meat in there too, or maybe some bacon bits.
To answer your very first question: no, organ meat is not essential to one's diet. If it helps you meet your nutritional goals, great. But it's certainly possible to meet the same nutritional goals without it.
The paleo preoccupation about organ meats is odd though. Yes, they are highly nutritious, but they don't make up very much of the animals mass. Out of an entire cow, you might get 1-2 meals out of each organ, while the flesh makes up many dozens of meals.
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