Today I want to dedicate a chapter on speaking about offal. A lot of people have issues when it comes to organ meats. For some people, eating offal relates to socioeconomic stigma. I try not to befriend with this type of people. Others say that it is simply for the reason that people didn’t grow up eating offal. I must say that for me, it played a big part – my mother always cooked stocks from bones containing bone marrow. She said it was the best part. As a 7-year-old, I disagreed. As a 27-year-old, I couldn’t agree more.
But for me, it’s not just about the notion of growing up with this food. It is also the fact that if an animal loses its life to end up on your table, the least you can do is to show respect by utilizing it to the maximum extent. It’s another debate on whether the animal should lose it’s life in the first place, but today I focus on conscious consumption. No waste. Nose to tail. I generally try to buy things that are already discounted because the best before date is nearing. If there is nothing, I try to cook vegetarian. I resent overproduction and it truly hurts my heart to see in the shops how much will end up in the garbage. And by trying to minimize that amount, I often end up buying something that most people would find unpalatable. Tongue, liver, etc. Today I ended up with bone marrow bones.
Apart from having numerous health benefits (and loads of collagen to keep you young), it also just tastes amazing. I have converted not only one person to this belief. How does it taste? Think of it as a savoury crème brûlée – just look at those caramelized tops. And to balance out the richness (it is, basically, fat) I make a simple parsley salad with red onion, capers and lemon juice. The bones are roasted at 190 Celsius for about 15-20 minutes, until the tops have caramelized nicely. I added under them some garlic, and topped with some thyme. Then, when all is ready, you scoop the soft delicacy out of the bone:
And then, you smear it on the griddled sourdough bread:
Then you add parsley salad:
And then you look at it with admiration. And then you eat it. Savour it. And then you feel a little sad because the bones are big and the amount of marrow is always too small. So you think of what else to cook, and here, I continued with the offal line and picked up some chicken livers. I have heard from a lot of people the following: ” What is that, liver?” (make sounds associated with disgust). And then I hear “But pâté I love”. Alright.
Simply put – done right, liver is wonderful. But done right, everything is. I remember looking forward to eating my first pani ca meusa (a spleen sandwich) in Sicily. I was really worried, as if my first one was bad, I wouldn’t try it again. I went to a sandwich shop in Palermo and asked the woman for pani ca meusa. She looked at me and said “Are you sure?”, thinking probably that I have no clue what it is. But I knew and I was sure. And I was lucky – it was absolutely great, and to my surprise, the taste of spleen is less intense than of liver. A must in Sicily.
The simplified directions: don’t overcook it. It should be pink inside. Add herbs (thyme) and alcohol (vermouth). The classic way is always with Soubise sauce (onion sauce), but this I keep for when cooking beef liver. With the chicken liver, I wanted to make a warm salad today. Some lamb’s lettuce, watercress, parsley. Pomegranate to add sweetness. And pickled burnt onions for the acidity. The onion petals are filled with a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, Pommery mustard, lemon juice and olive oil.
Give offal a try. It’s far from awful.