Offal Preparation Ideas
Restaurant menus are one way of assessing trends and there are definite signs that offal is mounting a comeback.
The idea of offal as a poor man’s food has over the years definitely given offal rather a bad press. As peoples lifestyles changed and there was more readily available cash on hand, there was increased demand for what one may term “proper meat”.
With the prevailing economic conditions this cycle seems to have gone almost full circle and once again people are revisiting this unsung hero of the meat world. Not quite a culinary revolution but notable nonetheless. Recession has a habit of introducing unthought of possibilities for cheap, wholesome food.
While reports tell us that products such as liver and brain contain lots of cholestral, it has to be remembered that liver is a good source of dietary iron and vitamin A. Certain pieces of offal such as heart and kidneys are low in fat and high in good quality meat. Also, it shouldn’t be forgotten that certain offal products have a definite ‘cachet’ about them. Pâté (made from liver) is a good example of this, as are sweetbreads.
No respectable Portuguese restaurant would dare open its doors without being able to offer chicken livers peri-peri or tastily prepared giblets. A good Italian restaurant will make a point of having Trippa (a glorious medley of tripe, tomatoes, onions and aromatic herbs) on its Specials Boards at least once a month, if not as a regular dish.
Many upmarket establishments have tongue on their menu, hot, cold or often with a delicious Madeira sauce. And let’s not forget mouth watering ox-tail casserole or delicious liver and onions.
Share these recipes with some of your customers, you never know you may find a few converts.
Grilled Lamb Kidneys with Lemon and Onion Puree
For the puree:
450g onions, finely chopped
50g butter, melted
grated zest and juice of a lemon
salt and pepper
Prepare the puree by stewing all ingredients for about 30 minutes until the onions are soft. Cool a little and puree in a blender. Set aside.
Now prepare 12 lamb kidneys by peeling off the outer membrane and washing them in cold running water. Dry on kitchen paper.
Cut each kidney in two and cut away the central core. Toss kidneys in 25g melted butter, season and grill for three minutes, longer for well done.
Serve with the re-heated puree and a few dashes of balsamic vinegar.
Lemon and onion puree is equally delicious with liver and sausages.
If one likes liver, kidney etc but sometimes find that the taste is too overpowering and strong, soak them overnight in a little milk. This will draw the bitter taste sometimes found and make them far milder and pleasant on the palette.
Do also try duck or chicken livers, they are wonderful especially when pan-fried quickly over a fierce heat for two minutes, flambéed with brandy and a dash of cream added!
The recipe below can of course be multiplied proportionately for commercial use
Chicken Liver Pâté
225g Chicken Livers
2 tbsp Brandy
2 tbsp of Mustard Powder
1 tsp Mixed Herbs (parsley, coriander, chives, thyme)
Two Cloves of Garlic (crushed)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Coarsely chop the chicken livers and add to the pan. Fry on medium heat for five minutes, turning constantly (to ensure the livers cook but do not burn).
Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little then pour into an electric blender. Melt the remaining butter and tip this into the blender too. Pour in the brandy, add the herbs mustard and garlic before seasoning with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Blend to a smooth paste before spooning into six small Ramekins (or egg cups will do too) then refrigerate for about 20 minutes to set and serve with buttered hot toast.