10 Things You Didn’t Know About Offal

by Suz on March 14, 2013 · 6 comments

in Cooking, Food

You’re read about how offal is a true super food, packed with nutrients. Perhaps you use it regular in your cooking, maybe you’ve tried my chicken liver pate recipe? Here are ten little know facts about organ meats…

Paleo Diet Offal Organ Variety Meats 10 Things You Didn't Know

1. There are two types of offal, red offal and rough offal. Red offal refers to the parts of the animal above its diaphragm, such as the heart, lungs, spleen, ox tail, skirt, sweetbread and gullets. Rough offal is the name given to the parts of cattle from the rumen area, i.e. intestines, tripe, heads and heels.

2. The liver of Polar bears is very dangerous to humans, being far too high in Vitamin A. Indiginous populations never eat Polar bear livers. Seal livers are equally toxic.

3. Similarly the internal organs of the fugu pufferfish are very toxic – and if not prepared properly can be fatal.

4. Skirt (i.e. onglet steak or hanger steak) gets it’s unique savory taste from it’s close proximity to the diaphragm and kidneys.

5. Sausage skin is traditionally made from the intestines of sheep, pig or ox.

6. Demand for offal is far greater in the winter months, whilst in the summer relatively little is sold – this makes the summer months a good time to get cheaper prices.

7. Whilst the term offal used to just refer to the entrails, it is now taken to mean all of the insides, abdominals and extremities. The terms “organ meats” and “variety meats” are also used instead of offal.

8. The word “offal” comes from “off fall”, and literally refers to the pieces of the animal that fall away as the carcass is butchered.

9. Offal from birds is known as giblets.

10. If you find the taste of offal a bit much (and tolerate dairy), try soaking it in milk overnight before cooking it.

What do you think of offal? Do you eat it regularly – and what is your favourite type?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil March 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Good tip, soaking the offal in milk overnight. I tried it with liver and I actually enjoyed it, now I have another choice. Normally I find the taste much too strong for me.

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Suz May 2, 2013 at 11:10 am

Glad you enjoyed it Phil!

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Wenchypoo March 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm

My favorite odd bit is bison tongue–very fatty, but very tasty just plain. Second favorite cut (not offal) is a smoked pork picnic shoulder–cooked on the bone, it too can be fatty, and the taste is TO DIE FOR!!

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Suz May 2, 2013 at 11:10 am

Great tips, thanks for these Wenchypoo!

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Of Goats and Greens March 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

Just a note: The spleen, while red in color, is *below* the diaphram. The liver, also red, but not on your list, is also below the diaphram.

Good to know about polar bear liver — does this apply to other bear livers as well? Or is it their arctic existence that makes theirs less desirable?

I like most offal, and cook with it when I can. Hearts and tongues and kidneys are among my favorites — along with sweetbreads.

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Suz May 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

Good question, I’m not sure if it’s just Polar bears?

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