Eating the Offal

Photo Courtesy: DKImages
When we were visiting Alan and Nancy Brown at Lewis Waite Farm a few weeks ago (post about that coming soon!) I had a chat with Nancy about which cuts are the worst sellers. I'll just put it this way, when we’re raising and selling our own meat we won't exactly be eating filet mignon every night. We’re going to be eating like farmers! We’ll make use of the less popular parts in our own kitchen to be sure that the full animal is utilized, which reduces waste and also nourishes our family. Not surprisingly, the most ignored parts of the animals are the offal.  Offal, eh?  Here's Chris Cosentino's definition: 
 "OFFAL those parts of a meat animal which are used as food but which are not skeletal muscle. The term literally means “off fall”, or the pieces which fall from a carcass when it is butchered. Originally the word applied principally to the entrails. It now covers insides including the heart, liver, and lungs (collectively known as the pluck), all abdominal organs and extremities: tails, feet, and head including brains and tongue. In the USA the expressions “organ meats” or “variety meats” are used instead."
Far from being something you would want to toss, many of these organ meats are the most nutritious cuts on an animal!  Just 1oz of pork liver has over 100% of your daily value of B12 compared to 2% in the same amount of pork shoulder, 121% compared to 0% of Vitamin A, and 36% compared to 16% of your daily value of Iron.  Sally Fallon Morell writes: 
"Compared with muscle meats, organ meats are richer in just about every nutrient, including minerals like phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium and iodine, and in B vitamins including B1, B2, B6, folic acid and especially vitamin B12. Organ meats provide high levels of the all-important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, especially if the animals live outside in the sunlight and eat green grass. Organ meats are also rich in beneficial fatty acids such as arachidonic acid, EPA and DHA. Organ meats even contain vitamin C—liver is richer in vitamin C than apples or carrots! Even if you add only small amounts of organ meats to your ground meat dishes, you are providing your family with super nutrition. . . in ways that everyone likes and are easy to consume."
Someday I’m going to be a master of the offal (no mental picture required...please), and after my chat with Nancy on our way to her meat lockers, I decided that now was the time to start my training!  I stocked up on some interesting bits from her and Allan’s delicious pastured animals and ended up with a pork liver, heart, and jowl.  Right now I’m the proud owner of a freezer that looks like science lab storage, all sorts of interesting specimens ready for experimentation! 
First up and next on in the skillet - Liver.  Stay tuned and join in! 
Have you tried cooking offal?  If you have any great recipes or cooking tips, please post 'em!

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