How To Use Offal

Offal are the parts left after the slaughtered animal has been dressed: the liver and kidneys are most popular but all are highly nutritious.

  • Calf’s liver The most expensive liver, with a mild flavour.
  • Lamb’s liver The most popular liver, excellent for grilling or frying.
  • Pig’s liver Stronger in flavour than lamb’s liver but softer in texture, ideal for pâtés and casseroles.
  • Ox liver May be soaked in milk or salted water to reduce the strength of its flavour; ideal for casseroles.
  • Calf’s kidney The most tender kidney, but often difficult to obtain.
  • Lamb’s kidney Good for grilling and frying; must be light brown and firm.
  • Pig’s kidney Suitable for grilling or frying, also often used in casseroles.
  • Ox kidney Tougher, so requires long, slow cooking for stews, steak and kidney pies and puddings.
  • Ox and lamb’s tongue Readily available and may be bought fresh or salted. Both should be soaked in salted water before cooking in fresh water with a bouquet garni. The skin and bone must be removed before being pressed in jellied stock. Lamb’s tongue may be served hot with parsley sauce.
  • Lambs’ and pigs’ hearts Best stuffed and then slowly casseroled or braised.
  • Ox heart Much larger than lamb’s or pig’s and often added, chopped, to stews.

Brains Calves’ and lambs’ brains are simple to prepare. After soaking for about two hours in cold, lightly salted water, simmer gently for about 20 minutes and then press them as they cool. They can then be sliced, coated in flour and fried in butter.

Sweetbreads The two parts of the thymus gland, one in the throat and one in the chest cavity. Calves’ and lambs’ sweetbreads have the best flavour, while that of the ox is tough and strong in flavour. They require careful preparation but are delicious served with a cream sauce.

Tripe The lining of an ox’s stomach. Tripe from the first stomach is referred to as the ‘blanket’ and that from the second stomach is called the ‘honeycomb’. It can be stewed in milk or sliced and deep fried. As tripe has already been par-boiled, the butcher will advise on the length of cooking time.

Calves’ feet and pigs’ trotters Ideal for making stock. They may also be boned, stuffed and roasted, or boiled for adding to brawn.

Oxtail Excellent braised. It should be skinned and jointed by the butcher, and be lean and deep red in colour.

Ox cheek Used for stews and brawn; very economical.

Head Sold whole or in halves, salted or fresh and mainly used for brawn. Calf’s head may be boiled and served whole with a cream sauce; sheep’s head is used for soups and stews.

Marrow bones The fore and hind legs of beef cattle. The marrow inside them should be pale pink, and adds a delicious flavour to home-made stocks and soups.

Sausages A combination of lean meat, fat, cereal and seasoning. Many butchers have their own recipe, but the percentage of lean meat the sausage must contain is stated by law.

Black pudding This is sausage-shaped, made from pig’s blood and pork fat and stuffed into pig’s intestines before boiling. It is served sliced and grilled or fried.

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