Organ meats vary a lot, but they have some aspects in common. Namely, they’re extremely nutritious, inexpensive cuts yet somewhat unfamiliar to the majority of cooks. Flavorful, low fat organ meats deserve more attention, so in our last blog post we presented an overview of the most commonly available. In this essay we’ll discuss prep tips and easy recipes, as well as general ideas to get you started.
Inexpensive Cuts Invite Exploration
Since organ meats are so low-cost, you can explore your options fearlessly. There are three general ways to get to know organ meats. First, start off easy, with cuts such as heart and tongue, which have a familiar muscle texture and many easy recipes. Second, disguise them. This option turns them into chili, sausage, meatballs, and other ground-meat dishes. In addition to hiding strange textures this can take advantage of their low fat nature. The third, however, is to dive right in and celebrate the organ meats for their true natures.
Heart: Low Fat, High Flavor
The heart is a large lean muscle. This similarity in texture helps make it more accessible, but also requires the usual lean meat care. It’s easier to trim the heart when it’s firmed up by partial freezing. Therefore, if it’s not frozen at all, freeze it for half an hour to an hour before working on it. Trim away the blood vessels, valves, and any fat. Don’t be afraid to thoroughly clean this inexpensive cut! It’s then ready to be sliced thinly and seared, to be cubed for kebabs, or even stuffed and slowly braised.
Some recipe suggestions include: hot and fast stir fries, a tenderizing stay in a slow cooker, or grilling up the traditional Peruvian skewers called Anticucho.
Kidneys : Strong and Savory
As we mentioned in our previous blog post, kidneys have a strong flavor. Fortunately, they take well to other strong flavors. To prep them, split them open and cut away the fat and lighter material in the core. Also, peel off the outer membrane. Rinse the kidneys well and soak them in salted water or milk for an hour or so. After this they can be sauteed, pan-fried, or brought to temperature using the Cinder’s sous vide method.
Finish the kidneys with assertive sauces. Seek out easy recipes for curried kidneys, deviled kidneys, or piles of caramelized onions.
Liver : Onions, Pate, and More
The key with liver is to avoid overcooking. Most liver comes ready to cook, or at most needs to have the outer membrane peeled away. For poultry livers it can be worth trimming the connective tissue between the lobes, and for larger livers slice them to create evenly thick pieces. Properly cooked liver is pink inside and creamy throughout. However, because it’s so low fat, overcooked liver rapidly becomes pebbly and dry. Fortunately the Cinder Grill is a master at temperature control!
Liver and caramelized onions is a classic pairing, but there are many more easy recipes for liver out there. Try wrapping small livers in bacon and dipping them in soy sauce before searing. Also, try a pate, which sounds, looks, and tastes impressive but is as easy as meatloaf.
Unusual, Intriguing Sweetbreads
Sweetbreads have a very different texture and flavor than most meat, almost creamy. They do require some prep work. First they must be soaked in water for several hours, changing the water a couple times. Then they need blanching, which involves dropping them into already-boiling water and cooking for two to three minutes before submerging them in ice water. Finally, remove any connective tissue, membranes, etc, and they’re ready to cook!. This may all sound complicated but it’s much more straightforward than it looks, and the results are an intriguing new culinary experience. Not only are sweetbreads creamy, savory, and low fat, but they are chock-full of unexpected nutrition, including vitamin C
Tongue -- Rich and Delicious
Tongue well rewards the brave cook. This inexpensive cut has the deep beefy richness and tenderness of prime steaks. There’s an apocryphal story of a woman who made tongue into medallions, seared it crisp, and challenged her guests to identify the cut. The most popular guess was tenderloin, except for those who said it was too flavorful!
While tongue requires some prep work it can be portioned and refrigerated or frozen afterwards, adding to your kitchen reserves. First simmer it with aromatics for a few hours, then drain it and let it cool slightly. The most difficult step is peeling the skin off, but if you can peel a fruit you can peel a tongue. Once cut crosswise into slices the tongue looks like round steaks, and takes well to being crisped, sauteed, or seared. An easy recipe for a relish like green sauce or chimichurri finishes tongue nicely.
Eating organ meats provides many benefits. These inexpensive cuts boast high nutrition and usually low fat. Also, they can be very delicious, and mastering them broadens your culinary horizons. Because many cultures made use of organ meats throughout history, easy recipes are a brief Google away. So take advantage of organ meats, with your Cinder Grill to help!