Something to look at…

30 Mar

Last night I worked as I always do on Tuesdays after class. Hopefully that’s all about to change and when school is over I will get some more hours. I work at this awesome little bar and restaurant that is located in Northeast Portland at the intersection of 15th and Prescott. Here is a link to their website:
It has been a great experience for me there and I really enjoy Ben’s style of cooking, and approach to using as much as possible from the animals we fabricate.

Here is a recipe for haggis, a traditional Scottish dish. I have yet to try any but I am curious.

This is an informative little article on cooking with organ meats and more of the hazards and warnings of doing so. I don’t necessarily agree with the writer’s personal points of view but there are some points brought up that I feel is relative to eating organs if you’re into that sort of thing. Much like other great things, organs should be consumed sparingly and infrequently for health reasons. Nutrients and vitamins are awesome but they are also very high in cholesterol, which isn’t the best thing. Why is too much of a good thing always such a bad thing? Here is the article:

Here is an article written by my English teacher’s sister, Caroline. I think it is some good insight into what it’s like being a girl in the kitchen. I mean, I am not really very “girly” at all, but I still feel like sometimes my co-workers try to keep me from experiencing too much too fast. Like a few more tickets roll in and they step in and start doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I know it takes me a moment to gather myself and plan a course of action, but that is because I am relatively new at this and haven’t had a chance to be in the weeds, because every time it starts to happen all the guys are stepping in to help. I appreciate their desire to help me out but at the same time I will never get good at being in the weeds unless I get to experience it, right? Thankfully I think it is apparent to everyone I work with that I can take a joke and that they don’t have to be someone else around me. At the beginning they are always censoring themselves for some reason but I guess that’s a completely usual reaction to being around someone new.

Here is a game you can play where you pluck and eviscerate a turkey. I thought it was funny…

Here are some ideas for people with picky children, who want to eat organs on the sly…

I found a pretty good article on the benefits of eating organ meat. Check it out!

Here is a short video about the prime cuts of offal found on a pig

And last I will leave you with a video that shows how one man makes organs more edible by putting them in terrines. Is it bad that I could sit here and watch this stuff all day? Haha. Innards.

Have a good one!

Identifying the parts

30 Mar

I will attempt to clear up any confusion regarding which organs are which. All animals have certain parts like livers, hearts, brains, and so on. Although they vary a lot in size depending on the animal, the same organs start to become familiar. I’ll give you a little run through of what you’re looking at when you get various offal. Plus, it’s always fun to gross myself out a little.

Here we can see the giblets that are found in fowl, such as turkeys, ducks and chickens. Now sometimes it seems like they just grab a handful of guts from a massive, but not separated, pile and throw it in a bag and shove it in the bird before wrapping it up. So you might have a couple hearts but no gizzards, or mostly livers with a neck. It’s common.

Clockwise from left; we see the neck, then the gizzard, followed by the heart and then in the middle is the liver. Let’s get a little more specific and one at a time now.

These are chicken gizzards. The gizzard is an organ located in the digestive tract of animals such as birds, reptiles, earthworms and some fish. It’s like another stomach made of thick, muscular walls that is used for grinding up food. Sometimes rocks get in there and help this process along.

These are lamb hearts…

Working as hard as they do during the life of the animal, hearts are very lean, aside from a layer of fat on the outside. They can be cooked quickly over a high heat or slowly with liquid or a moist stuffing. If you are cooking heart quickly, try marinating overnight to help tenderize, then grill or fry over a high heat for a matter of minutes. To slow cook, try stuffing and braising the heart, or cut it into slices and stew.

Here are some lamb kidneys…

Basically most all kidneys look like this. Like little unborn fetuses. I tend to shy away as you might already know from previous posts. Although I’m sure I would be up for trying to cook with kidneys again. I just might not be cooking a lot in general, unfortunately, until the next four weeks are over and I am done with classes. But I am looking forward to trying out new things in the kitchen when I don’t have to be doing homework.

Anyway, we’ll talk more about kidneys again later.

And of course, here is the beloved liver…

I’m not sure what animal this is from. Might be a lamb again? Or possibly something else? People love liver. It is one of the organs that a lot of people will eat who don’t eat the other ones. I know people that don’t like the metallic flavor that it has, and for sure it’s not for everyone. Liver seems to be one of the more highly prized organs and you can usually find it before other organs at anytown, USA supermarkets.

Foie Gras is is the best liver that you will ever eat in the world. Of course that is simply my opinion and I know some people think it’s a horrible thing to do to animals… but it’s sooooo good! Foie Gras is the liver of a duck or a goose that’s been fattened specifically to increase the size of their liver. The fattening typically occurs through force-feeding, and this is why it’s so controversial. Although there are videos you can watch that are just reality and they don’t seem to mind it and apparently like to gorge themselves sometimes anyway. Here are some fattened duck livers; foie gras…

Now it may seem gross to you but this is making me really hungry right now! Or maybe it’s just because when I finally finished all my prep and got to get on the line we were constantly bombarded with tickets while we were trying to get everything ready for tomorrow’s service and cleaning up… and I guess I didn’t have a chance to make myself something to eat before we closed. Oops.

Here is a calf’s tongue…

Tongue can be prepared in a variety of ways… simmer it in a broth until tender, use it for some head cheese, really the possibilities are endless. I had some friends when I was younger who once were eating tongue when I was there and I remember that it really freaked me out. However, today I am a little more excited about the flavors and texture.

One of my new favorites is…. PIG FACE!

At work my boss gets a head every week or two and this is a picture I found that’s pretty much the first step that he takes in the process he uses to make Porchetta di testa, which we refer to as “pig face” in the kitchen. It’s basically all the parts of the head on the right there rolled up with the tongue across the inside like a little internal garnish. It is cured and I’m not sure exactly what the process is and am not sure I would want to tell you everything. But after all that is completed we slice it thin like deli meat on the slicer and it is served on our meat board. I have to say I’m glad I tried it though. Delicious.

For some reason many people seem intimidated by our meat board but I think it’s fantastic and really an amazing deal for what you get. It has been sent back untouched a couple times by some fearful customers that must have been expecting a few slices of salami with some pickles and bread.I am going to try to remember to take a picture and post it so you can see what I’m talking about.

I could go on for a long time about all this and put up more amazing pictures but I don’t want to drag this out too much. I was really just doing this post for my friend Andrew, who asked me about identifying offal. I hope this helps…

Have a great evening kids

My Hungarian Grandmother’s Thoughts

29 Mar

For this post I will be featuring my lovely grandparents, Louie and Julia Kakuk. They were both born in Hungary and escaped during the ’56 revolution, making their separate ways to America. They met learning to speak English on American soil, got married and have been together for over 50 years. My mother is their oldest child, and all of them presently live on an elk ranch in the beautiful mountains of northwest Montana.

This morning I called them up to say hi and talk a little bit about the differences in diet between Americans and what they ate growing up in Hungary. I got my Grandma, Julia, on the phone, and she shared some insight into what it was like growing up in Hungary in the mid-twentieth century.

“What kinds of offal did you eat growing up, like the guts, tails, feet and heads?” I asked her.

“We used to eat everything.” She says immediately. “Brains, livers, kidney, tongue. We used to eat blood, that might sound weird but we put it in sausages, even fried. But I don’t care for brains, yuck! We ate them because we had no choice. They used to make the brains with scrambled eggs, or cook the brain with some bacon and put it on some bread.”

“What are your favorite parts of the animals to eat?”

“Liver is my favorite, with lots of onion and garlic. We ate the heart and the tongue; we rolled the head up in sausage. Smoked ham was one of my favorites as well. My brothers, they loved to eat the nose! They would fight over it! We always cooked the pig feet and I liked to chew on the hocks afterward, you know, and the gristle. I don’t like the brain and kidneys though. The texture of the brain is kind of soft and it’s hard to get rid of the taste of pee when you cook kidneys. We used to eat everything!” she emphasizes again and adds, “We didn’t waste anything. I had to clean all the insides out. I used to use a stick to scrape everything out and washed it all with water a couple times.”

“How do you think the way you see Americans eat compares to how you ate in Hungary?”

“Americans don’t eat hardly anything! When you grow up there (Hungary), you have to eat whatever you can. Even with pork, Americans eat only pork chops and ribs and don’t eat the other stuff. I was eating lard on a piece of bread with meat; or even putting the meat inside lard and after it got firm slicing it like deli meat.”

“Why do you think Americans have gotten away from eating whole animals?”

“I don’t know! I think maybe the people just don’t buy things because they don’t want to deal with the meat and cutting it up themselves. It’s much easier to walk in to the store and buy a package with meat in it than to get a whole animal and cut it all up.  But they are putting all these preservatives and things in the meat, and it seems like a lot more people are getting obese eating this stuff. We are thinking about getting a buffalo or two after the elk are gone and raising one for meat and selling the other one. Or a couple steer, and then we can know what is going into our meat. American people seem like they just don’t want to bother.”

“We’re pretty lazy, huh?”

“Yeah I don’t know why but everyone wants to do as little as possible.”

I’m going to call when my Grandpa is home and get his thoughts on the subject later this week… so stay tuned

Ethical Jargon

22 Mar

I think it is important to consider the ethics of eating whole animals. Thanks to our consumption of meat and our desire to never grow hungry we have created a monster of an agricultural system. With so much being wasted and us buying prime cuts such as chicken breasts and pork chops, we are creating a demand for those products and now they are raising chickens specifically for their over-sized breast meat and accelerated growth rates. We think that bigger and faster is better for our land because then we are able to produce more from less.

Animals in CAFOs are raised in less than ideal conditions which makes them susceptible to disease. Antibiotics are put in their food to protect them from disease and also used to make them grow faster. This practice has created drug-resistant bacteria strains as the organisms are more and more exposed to them. 70% of the nation’s antibiotic consumption is for agricultural use, which has created a plague of drug-resistant infections that kill thousands each year.

This is an aerial view of a “lagoon” next to a factory pig farm. An uncovered pit of pig poop also containing massive amounts of antibiotics, ammonia, methane, carbon monoxide, cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, phosphorus, nitrates and heavy metals. Pigs produce 3 times the amount of excrement as humans, and their waste has become extremely toxic and has killed numerous amounts of fish in nearby rivers. It is also sprayed on crops like a fertilizer to attempt to make this problem disappear; so most likely even when you buy vegetables they are covered in toxic pig waste. Our water is being contaminated by the effects of it seeping into the earth from overflowing and spraying. It’s more than a little scary.

If we go back in history we see the Native Americans who hunted the buffalo, the Plains Indians became nomadic hunters who followed the buffalo around and depended on them for their existence. The different parts of the buffalo provided them with food, shelter, tools, clothing and even entertainment. The hide was used for clothing and moccasins, the bones were used to make tools for digging and pegs to drive into the ground, the tail would be used as a whip or decoration, even the intestines became water bags and bags for storing other things. Gristle was used as glue, the scrotum became rattles, the stomach was used as a container for cooking and boiling water, and the dung from the buffalo was a popular choice for fire fuel.

We have come a long way since the days of hunting buffalo. Even as we’ve become smarter and more technologically advanced, we seem to have forgotten where our meat comes from. Many people who grab a Styrofoam tray with perfect-looking chicken legs all in a row don’t even realize what they’re doing and would never think of actually killing a chicken themselves. I’m not saying that I think we should all raise and kill our own meat, because there’s not really room for that. I’m just trying to point out that if you’re going to eat meat there is nothing wrong with having a little respect for yourself and the animal by utilizing the less desirable parts. Maybe you are incapable of buying whole animals because of freezer space, location, etc. But you can always start buying the parts of the animal that are less in demand to try to make sure we are wasting less.

Start with chickens. It’s easy to deal with, and not that hard to use the whole thing. I always buy whole chickens now when I want to cook with it, because even though I might only want to use the thighs, I can always put the rest in the freezer for later. Most often I tend to get a chicken, cut it up into 8 pieces, make chicken stock with the carcass, and then just make all the meat into jerk chicken or whatever else I want. The stock can also be frozen so I have it when I need it and don’t have to throw it away if I don’t have time to cook anything.

If I were to ever end up owning a restaurant I would want to buy whole animals and use the entire thing. I am fortunate enough to work at a restaurant now that is moving toward doing just that. We get half a pig every other week and often a bag of offal and the head as well. I know my boss wants to get more into using whole animals, as soon as we have some more walk-in and freezer space. I am glad that he seems to share my views in this matter, and I am very much enjoying being able to see how he uses different parts. I still have a long way to go learning these things.

Some of the ethical reasons behind this endeavor is that you can be less wasteful, you can source your animals from local, known sources, you can actually know what you are eating and this create the opportunity to support your local, small farms instead of large corporations that care more about the money than any sort of adverse affect their poor quality meat has on us. This is pretty much the reason I wanted to start this blog in the first place. To talk about it, to try things, and to spread more knowledge even if the effects are minimal on anyone else who happens to be reading this blog. For me, the ethics behind it are the most important thing. I know I have a long ways to go, even after almost being done with culinary school, before I will be more confident in my cooking abilities.

The only way we can really do anything about the sad state of our meat industry is by supporting those local, sustainable farms through our food purchasing dollars. There seems to be something completely backwards on our views of eating meat and as a nation we eat way too much of it. By not eating it as often, and being able to spend that money less frequently on better quality meats we would be able to afford what seems like a huge price difference. Quality doesn’t equal easy, fast and cheap.

Guest Post: An Offal History

17 Mar

The etymology of the word offal meat is derived from several words; Abfall in German, afval in
Dutch, avfall in Norwegian and Swedish and affald in Danish. All of these variations sum up the same
conclusion. It is the “off-fall” meat, what has fallen off during butchering.

In short, offal meat is a culinary term that refers to the entails and internal organs of a butchered

Offal has a distinct place in history as many different cultures have traditional meals and dishes using a
variety of offal, including organs, skin, brains, and heads of animals.

In Norway, there is a traditional dish that is usually prepared around Christmas time made from a
sheep’s head called smalahove. To prepare the dish, which is generally one half of the head, the skin
and fleece is torched, the brain is removed and the head is salted and often smoked. It is then boiled for
about 3 hours and is generally served with a root mash of potatoes or rutabagas’. While considered a bit
of a frightening dish, it is enjoyed by enthusiasts and brave tourists.

In the French city of Marseille, trotters and tripe from lamb are a traditional food called pieds et
parquets. There is also a sausage found in France called andouillette, which is regarded as a delicacy. It is
made from chitterlings, or intestines.

The Chinese have one of the longest histories of using offal meats in their cuisine, and especially their

traditional medicine. Pork is one of the most highly consumed meats in the country, so there are many
popular dishes using kidneys of the pig. One in particular uses oyster sauce, ginger and scallions. Other
dishes include pig blood stew, which is at least 1,000 years old and pork tongue slices fried in oil and
served as street food.

In Philippine cuisine, almost the entire animal of the pig is used, including the snout, tail, ears, intestine
and innards. Bopis is a spicy Filipino dish made with pork lungs and hearts that are sautéed in tomatoes,
onions and chilies.

Even here in the states, there are a variety of dishes that include offal. However, the giblets from
chicken or duck, this includes the gizzard, heart and livers, are more often consumed rather than the
organs from mammals. These are often deep fried, especially in the south and enjoyed by a variety of

Full utilization of the animal is a bit of a misunderstood practice in today’s modern culinary world, but
in a world so focused on being less wasteful, perhaps it is time to stop turning away from what we
consider off putting and try opening our minds and palettes to new opportunities.

I think that Diane’s approach to offal meat is exciting and experimental. She’s not afraid to make
mistakes, but is also tenacious enough to keep trying until she finds something that works. It is my hope
that she opens up new horizons for the people who stumble upon her work.

This post was submitted by my friend Caylie   Thanks a lot!!

Chicken Livers

15 Mar

I got a pound of chicken livers and after some consideration decided to make chopped liver. It was a suggestion from a good friend because I like asking people I know who have been cooking a lot longer than me what they prefer with various organ meats and go from there. I looked up a few different recipes and decided on a course of action from there.

Chopped liver is like a poor man’s pate, although rather chunky compared to most pates I’ve had. It consists of liver, onions, hard cooked eggs, green onions and parsley. I added some spices and served it next to thin slices of baguette to spread on.

I’m not sure I like chicken livers as much as other liver I’ve had. I mean, I really like duck livers and pig livers and whatever else I’ve had thus far but chicken livers aren’t my favorite. Or maybe I just need to learn a lot more about cooking with offal.



15 Mar

It must be obvious by now that I am not accustomed to cooking with offal as much as some. I learned about a few different things to do in culinary school, such as dirty rice and various pates and sausages. If I had a food processor I could definitely go further there. Having not really grown up eating a lot of offal and most likely thinking it sounds disgusting, pates and sausages are a much more edible choice for me.

I know I’m probably not going to come up with any recipes that you must try, because I am still learning about the various ways of cooking offal. Of course, if I happen to stumble across anything particularly delicious I will jot it down here.

It is believed that consuming too much offal is bad for you, but if you ate the offal from a single animal that you ate the rest of the ratio would work out nicely. Although I really do wish I had a way to grind meat as it would be much more palatable and guaranteed to be eaten before it went bad.

One of the main things with offal to remember is that it must be prepared rather quickly, ideally within 24 hours of putting it in your fridge, provided it was relatively fresh in the first place.

One of the things I am most curious and terrified of is brains. In Auguste Escoffier’s cookbook, there is a recipe for “Calf Brains Beaumont”. If you can call it a recipe. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Escoffier before, but it can be a little hard to follow and know exactly what he’s talking about. For those of you that don’t know, Beaumont is my last name, hence my picking out this particular recipe in a long list of random brain preparations.

From my understanding, “Calf Brains Beaumont” is a calf’s brain that is cut into slices, layered with foie gras force-meat and slices of truffle. The brain slices are put back together again, and the whole thing is coated with more foie gras and chopped truffles. Then it is encased in puff pastry, brushed with egg and baked for 15 minutes. Served with a few tablespoons of Perigueux sauce.

So… one of these days. This will happen. Maybe.