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Grassfed Is the Right Choice for Offal

I have always found it interesting that so many of our customers are reformed vegetarians who have rediscovered the benefits to their health of including red meat, specifically beef, in their diets.  In point of fact, our website master is the person most critical in convincing us to market our grassfed beef direct to the consumer.  She called one night and wanted to buy a cow, very interesting since she lives in the suburbs of Atlanta and not where you would raise a rabbit much less a cow.  She had visited our farm in the past as a confirmed vegetarian (14 years) so I couldn’t figure her desire for a cow, never dreamed she meant beef.  Yet, long term deficiencies had prompted her doctor to recommend she go back to red meat.

I say this to explain how odd it may seem that I should be writing about the consumption of offal.  Our farm primarily sells beef muscle cuts.  Yet, offal is a misunderstood and improperly maligned part of a beef carcass.  So, while many of our customers are rediscovering beef many more should be encouraged to discover offal.

Offal (pronounced aw-ful) is a nearly complete class of food in itself, encompassing all manner of things such as heart, liver, kidneys, glands, stomach, testicles, lungs, and entrails of an animal and even includes tail, feet, head, ears, etc.  The work offal comes from the Old English “off” and “fall”, referring to the pieces that fall from an animal carcass during butchering.  The dictionary defines offal as waste parts, especially of a butchered animal or refuse; rubbish.  How unfair since many of these organs have much to offer nutritionally as well as gustatorially.
In most of the world organ meat is readily used as part of the culture’s traditional cuisine and reflects a resourcefulness and economy aimed to use all of animal protein as gainfully as possible. They like our prehistoric ancestors instinctively prize the richly nourishing organ meats of the animals they consume.   They have an appreciation for low-in-fat, vitamin-and-mineral-rich hearts, tongues, kidneys, sweetbreads, etc.  If you are going to harvest it, then use it all.  However, offal has never been a favorite with American fare which at best views it somewhat squeamishly.  We would rather put it into rendering plants than open our minds and entertain its use as a rich and delicate part or our diet.  Organ meats compared to muscle meats are much higher in iron, zinc, vitamin B12, folate and vitamin A (liver).

It is my opinion that if you do choose to try offal in some way that you choose from an animal that has been raised in a pristine environment and will offer the greatest amount of nutritional value and safety (especially the liver) by selecting from grassfed animals who have never had antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, etc.

It is not my intent to instruct you in the cooking techniques and recipes for preparation of offal, perhaps we will do that later.

However, viscera (offal, organ meat) is gaining a foothold in restaurants and kitchens in the last few years broadening the tastes of American diners.  In fact, many of the best chefs list offal as one of their favorite meals to cook and eat.

One of the premier restaurants in St. Louis did this recently with our beef hearts.

http://www.stlbites.com/2008/02/02/in-regards-to-the-forum-you-were-right

I am not a chef but I can tell you how to prepare kidney, heart, tongue, sweetbreads and mountain oysters (testicles).  We do not even have these organs on our website and they require special orders.  Feel free to call us if you have a request.


 

Posted by Patti on February 3, 2008

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