Off-al Limits

Level 2 has begun and so far things are moving along nicely. We all enjoyed our Memorial Day and came back refreshed (some maybe hungover?) and ready to tackle the next lesson- Variety Meats. Yum…

Variety Meats or Offal are typically overlooked internal organs of pork, beef, chicken, veal, or duck. Some, like foie gras or sweetbreads are considered a delicacy, others like calves liver and kidneys are more of an acquired taste (to say the least.) The recipes we covered in class were Calves liver with onions, kidneys dijonaisse, sweetbreads with country style peas, and lamb’s tongue with a spicy sauce.

I really want to like offal. I think that it is a great, cost-effective method of feeding people and I think that one should try and use as much of an animal as possible in a truly sustainable fashion. Chef Chris Cosentino does a great job at publicizing offal and highlighting it’s yumminess at his restaurant Incanto, and at dinners he hosts throughout the country. (Ruhlman has the highlights of one here.) So I came into this lesson prepared to learn to love variety meats. Sadly, that did not happen.

The tongues were what my classmates freaked out about the most (although I will say that none of the offal inspired any modicum of joy in most of them, with the exception of the Macedonian, Zarko, who ate at least three entire lobes of sweetbreads, a kidney, and two slices of liver.) I found the tongues to be the least offensive item (to me they tasted like chewy bologna) and I really like sweetbreads, but the kidneys and liver were a different story. While the sauces were a valiant attempt to cover up the foul tasting organs, it did not work. I grudgingly swallowed the liver, although I could not hide my repulsion to it’s organic, bloody, and somewhat metallic taste (plus, I have a vivid memory of eating at a Piccadilly with my grandmother when I was about 8, and picking up the liver and onions dish off of the hot line thinking it was steak. What a surprise that was. My tastebuds never recovered) and I outright spit the kidney into my hand after a few attempts at getting it down (it wasn’t gonna happen!) But I was one of only two girls in the class who at least tried every type of organ we cooked (props to me and Sarah!) and one of only five in class to do so, boy or girl.

In conclusion, I offer my apologies to Mr. Cosentino for not being able to wholeheartedly love offal. Hopefully it will come with experience and possibly a different method of cooking them? I’ll have to go to Chef Cosentino’s next dinner to find out.

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