Eating Nose to Tail


 
During the Halloween season nose to tail eating gets a few choice moments in the sun.  Food TV seems to trot out heads, tongues and trotters at the same time as they whip out the cotton cob webs and witch hats.  Eating all the less desired bits of animals conjures something sinister in many minds, as if there is something unnatural about happily munching on pig tails, chicken feet and liver.

For the last year I've been writing a couple recipe columns for SeriousEats, and in honour of Halloween I thought I'd post a few links to the more nose to tail inspired posts that the benevolent Editors in SE headquarters have let me sneak through.
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Some bloody, tasty chicken insides.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween, filled with many delicious, scary meals.
 
 
Thanks to an old friend from graduate school I recently had the privilege of teaching a nose to tail eating class at Newbury College.  The students were all seniors, excellent cooks and enthusiastic about food.

We cooked a lot of food - grilled pig tails, chili beef heart, snapper collars, sweetbreads, marrow bones and as a special treat Jamie Bissonette left us a pig head from his butchering demo.  It was an awesome day and I really hope they invite me back next year.

Here are a few pictures from that class - and if any of those students read this and want to cook some more offal sometime soon, definitely drop me a line!
 
 
Recently, while on a hunt for calves liver, I came across some good looking fresh sweetbreads.  The calves liver was MIA so a small package of sweetbreads came home with me instead.  I grew up with my Omi making breaded, deep-fried sweetbreads for my Mum's birthday.  I think Omi's recipe is an especially good way to serve sweetbreads, the crunchy breading coating the soft tender sweetbread.  The issue is that lately I've been trying to be a little more fat consciousness, my solutions was to try a simple pan seared sweetbread.

After some searching online I came across this recipe for grilled sweetbreads at epicurious.com and decided to use this as a basis for my pan-seared version.
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Sweetbreads!
Following the epicurious recipe, I blanched the sweetbreads in acidulated water until they seemed cooked.  I didn't follow the cooking times, so I followed the cook "until it's done" logic.  When they were done I removed the tougher bits and separated the little sweet bread knobs into smaller pieces.
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Blanched, separated sweetbreads.
From this point on I stopped using the formal recipe and just used common sense.  I heated up some olive oil until it just began to smoke and added my sweetbreads.
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Golden brown.
The sweetbreads rolled around the hot pan until they took on that nice crunchy looking texture and brown colour. 

The sweetbreads went onto a plate, followed by a quick sprinkle of salt and crushed black pepper.  And just for a little colour some parsley that hadn't yet ended up in my stock pot.
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A nice mid-afternoon snack.
Sweetbreads are really delicate in both taste and texture, and the quick searing method really let the flavour of the sweetbread come through.  If you're looking for a good intro-offal I would highly recommend sweetbreads because they are undeniably organ, but totally mild and inoffensive to a sensitive palate.

This pan-seared version of my childhood favorite are a good mid-afternoon treat, but in my mind lacks the festivity of Omi's deep fried version.  Although if you paired them with a nice white wine and served it with some fluffy mashed potatoes these have the potential to be a lovely week night dinner.