Tag Archives: offal

Pork, tongue in cheek.

I have written here before about pig tongues and pig cheeks. I enjoyed them both separately, so it seemed like they should be good together. I started by slow cooking the tongue for several hours, until tender, and then peeling the skin off. The next day I rolled the tongue and some slices of cooking apple in the pig cheek. I would have liked to use a cheek with the skin on but unfortunately it seems to be impossible to buy them like that (unless I wanted 40kgs of them). I tied the roll up with string and roasted it for around 2 hours.

The cheek was not quite big enough to completely enclose the tongue and apple, so it wasn’t quite as neat a looking roll as I wanted. Pork cheeks are extremely fatty, and even though I had trimmed a lot of the fat off, there was still way too much fat on it for me. When I ate the roll hot, I was very disappointed, particularly with the tongue, which was quite dry and had a strong offal flavour. I decided not to throw the rest away, and tried it cold the next day. What a difference!  The subtle pork flavours where delicious and the tongue was much more like the pressed tongue I had made before. Overall, it was an interesting experiment, but I don’t think I’ll bother again.

Chicken hearts

I’d had a pack of chicken hearts in the freezer for quite a while, so finally it was time to try them. They’re not much to look at, but a lot of the things I eat are worse looking than this. They had been prepared by the butcher, with the tops cut off, removing any veins, and some of the fat.

I found quite a few different ways to cook the hearts, but I was hungry, so I took the easy option, and just pan fried them in oil, with garlic, until they browned up nicely.

I think they look a lot nicer cooked than raw! And they are so good to eat. A little bit chewy cooked this way, but by no means tough, quite a nice texture really. They had that lovely chicken skin, fatty flavour that I love. I saved a few for the next day and ate them cold, and what a great snack they are. Delicious with a cold beer. It’s a pity that they are high in cholesterol, or I’d eat them often.

Rolled pig’s spleen

This is a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s book ‘Nose To Tail Eating’, and is something I have wanted to try for quite some time, but I’ve had a lot of trouble getting hold of pig’s spleens. Finally, after waiting about 2 months, a butcher managed to get me some. I have never seen a spleen before, so I was a bit surprised at how long they are, the biggest one was over 45cm.

They had a layer of fat on one side which I cut off, you can see in the photo above where the fat was attached down the middle of the spleen. With the spleen laid flat, it was easy to place several sage leaves along it, then a couple of slices of smokey bacon with the rind removed were laid lengthwise on top. It was then easy to roll it all up and push through a skewer to hold it in the roll.

 

 The spleens were then placed in a casserole dish, covered with chicken stock and into a medium oven for 90 minutes. They were then left to cool in the stock before slicing and serving cold.

Anyone who likes liver will enjoy these as the taste is similar but not as strong. They are probably more like chicken than lamb liver, with maybe just a hint of pork flavour. I would have expected the bacon to overpower the spleens, but it didn’t. I think that is the genius of Fergus, he gets a fantastic balance of flavours. The amazing thing about the spleens is their texture, so soft and creamy, just like a really good pate.

 

Crispy pigs ears

These don’t sound very appealing to most people, particularly dog owners who buy dried pigs ears for their dogs to chew on. But two of my favourite cook books, ‘The Entire Beast’ and ‘Nose to Tail Eating’ have recipes for them, so that’s good enough for me. The pigs ears I bought were clean and hairless.

 I put them into the slow cooker with onions, garlic, fennel seeds, thyme and a bay leaf. The plan was to cook them until soft, but I had to go out before they were done, and by the time I got home they were very soft, possibly overcooked. I removed the ears from the liquid, at which stage the skin came away from the cartilage very easily if not carefully handled. After drying the ears with a paper towel and cooling (between 2 plates to stop them curling), I sliced them into strips. I then spread them with Dijon mustard and rolled them in breadcrumbs. I don’t have a deep frier so I pan fried them.

They ended up a little oily, but I think that’s a technique thing (or in my case, a lack of technique thing). The bread crumbs were crispy and the ears were soft inside , with the cartilage being a little harder, but not at all chewy. An interesting combination of textures. I thought they might have a stronger flavour, but there was just a slight hint of pork taste to them. Interesting, but not something I’ll cook again in a hurry.

Tripe and onions

This is a dish I remember from my childhood. I think we had it fairly often and I always loved it. Tripe seems to be out of fashion nowadays, and when I cooked some a year or so ago I didn’t much like it, it was rubbery and not a particularly nice taste. But I just had to try it again. The tripe I bought was the honeycomb tripe, apparently from the second stomach. I googled a recipe and pretty much stuck to it, first placing it in cold water, bringing to the boil, then draining and rinsing before cutting into 2.5cm pieces. I then put tripe, onions, milk, a bay leaf, salt and pepper into a pot and simmered for almost 3 hours. I then melted butter in a pan, added flour and cooked for a minute or two, then stirred in the cooking liquid, and cooked until it thickened. The onions and tripe were then added and reheated.

The verdict?   Maybe slightly more palatable than last time, but still rubbery and not a really nice flavour (and it really doesn’t smell nice while cooking). I can’t imagine that I would have liked this all those years ago if it was like this. Makes me wonder if tripe has changed a bit, now that it is probably from feedlot cattle, fed grain and very little if any grass. I’d be interested to hear opinions on that.

 

Stuffed lambs’ hearts

Here’s a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s fantastic book ‘NoseTo Tail Eating’. I think I have only eaten heart once before and I wasn’t overly impressed, it was tough and not particularly tasty. But I trusted Fergus not to write about it unless it was good, so I gave it another shot.

The hearts as I bought them had been trimmed of veins and sinews at the top, but I trimmed off some of the fat you can see in the photo.

The stuffing consisted of 2 onions and 2 cloves of garlic sliced and cooked gently in butter until soft, but not browned. Then I added a large glass of red wine and let this reduce by half. White bread (I used 3 slices) cut into cubes  was then added along with salt and pepper.

This was cooked gently for 15 minutes, and then left to cool before several sage leaves were chopped and added.

The hearts were then stuffed to the top and a couple of slices of bacon were tied in place to act as a lid.

My 3 hearts were placed in a casserole dish (with a large potato to keep the hearts upright), and chicken stock was added, not quite covering the hearts. They were cooked in a medium oven for almost 3 hours, then the hearts were removed and kept warm while I reduced the juice from the casserole dish to make a sauce.

The recipe called for this to be served with mashed swede but I forgot and bought parsnip, so I used that instead.  The flavour in this dish is great, the heart was tender, with a very fine texture and I thought a slight taste of liver. The stuffing had a fairly strong flavour, but each heart only held a small amount, so it didn’t overpower the other flavours. The taste of bacon complemented everything nicely. And the sauce was strong and delicious, it looks oily on the plate, but didn’t taste it, the only complaint about the sauce was there wasn’t enough of it. Even the potato I used as packing was delicious, picking up the bacon flavour. This was an awesome dish, thanks Fergus.

 

Blood Sausage (black pudding)

For anyone who may not know, black pudding is made from pigs blood. I have only eaten black pudding once since I was a child, and I liked it very much (see ‘Haggis, mutton bird and black pudding’ post). I was recently given a copy of Chris Badenoch from Masterchef’s book The Entire Beast, and it has inspired me in many ways. His recipe for blood sausage with poached egg yolk looked amazing, so I had to try it. I don’t for one minute pretend to be able to cook anywhere near as well as Chris, so I have really just taken the basic idea and simplified it to match my skills and the ingredients I had to hand. I cut the black pudding into thick slices and fried them in oil until crunchy. The eggs yolks were separated from the whites and were poached for about a minute, then the sausage and eggs were placed on a slice of toast and seasoned.

In his book Chris says ‘if you use cage eggs and supermarket black pudding – it will be crap’. Well, that’s pretty much what I used, and it was really delicious. So I would love to try this breakfast prepared by Chris. I really recommend both this meal and ‘The Entire Beast’.