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Variety Meats


variety meats = offal (British)  Notes:  Variety meats is a catch-all term for the organ meats, feet, and tails of butchered animals.  Earlier civilizations treated many of the organs as prized delicacies, and deservedly so since they're often as tender and mildly flavorful as the finest cuts of meat.  They're fallen into disfavor in our times, though, which means that you can get many of these meats for a song.  Refrigerate variety meats and use them within two days of purchase, or else freeze them.  



heart  Long ago, primitive tribes believed that eating heart gave them strength and courage.   Today, few of us bother to test that theory.   It's our loss, because heart is tender and has a very delicate flavor.  It's also quite inexpensive, thanks to its lack of popularity.  To prepare it, you should rinse it in cold water, then cut out any blood vessels and connective tissue.  Veal or lamb heart is delicious if you sauté or grill it until it's medium rare.  If you cook it until it's well done, it becomes very tough.  Alternatively, you can cook heart slowly using moist heat. 


kidneys  Kidneys are nutritious and, if properly prepared, delicious.  It's often hard to find them in markets, though, since many of them are ruined during the meat inspection process.  Veal kidneys and lamb kidneys are prized for their tenderness and delicate flavor.   They can be grilled or sautéed, though they become tough if overcooked.  Pork and beef kidneys are tougher, and need to be cooked slowly using moist heat.  


liver  Liver is rich in iron and Vitamin A and has an unabashed flavor that nicely complements that of its usual companion, onion.   Calf's liver is considered to be the best, but lamb liver and beef liver are almost as good and much less expensive.   Liver can be cooked with dry heat, say by grilling or sautéing it, but it becomes very tough if it's cooked beyond medium rare.   Since liver has very little fat, you might want to baste it or lard it.

miscellaneous variety meats  This category includes brains, tongue, tripe, and sweetbreads.


Copyright © 1996-2005  Lori Alden