I’m a big fan of the concept of respecting and knowing the food that you eat. Those of us following a paleo diet tend to be more curious about what our animals eat and how they were treated (free range, grass-fed, etc.) As part of showing respect to the animal, I try to make use of more of the animal than the average American would. Some people only have an anonymous relationship with their food. To them, beef is nothing more than shrink-wrapped steaks and chickens are composed of only breast meat. I previously touched on this in my previous post, Eggs in One Basket.
When I was growing up, my dad introduced me to chicken livers, hearts and gizzards and I loved them. The best part was, my mom and sister wanted no part — more for us! Unfortunately, many people have had overcooked liver at some time in their life and they are forever turned off to the rubbery texture. Proper cooking technique makes all the difference when preparing organ meats to ensure they end up appetizing.
I’ve found that other cultures follow the creed of using more of the animal and this introduced me to even more delicacies. Thanks to Mexican food, I had tried cabeza (cheeks meat), lengua (tongue) and higado encebollado (liver w/ onions). With Chinese dim sum, I found chicken feet and tripe, with Vietnamese cuisine I met pork blood, beef tendon, and ham hocks and oxtail with Filipino food. I’m sure there are others along the way I have forgotten, but once I started experimenting I was hooked.
Currently on my wish list for Amazon, I have the book The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating to work on further expanding my repertoire. For preparation techniques and recipe ideas I also visit the website Offal Good. (Offal is another term for the organ meats that are often discarded when an animal is butchered.) From what I’ve read, the evidence of bone remnants show that paleolithic hunters would often go for these organ meats first so there’s not much more “paleo” than eating these various goodies. They are nutrient-dense and as such, can have strong flavors that you might not be used to at first.
When I was perusing the nearby 99 Ranch Market, I found some fresh beef tongue and decided to make my recipe for lengua guisada. In addition, they had some beef tendon so I’m experimenting this time by adding that to the mix. Tongue, marrow and tendon… maybe I should rename it TMT stew. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new in your meals this week — whether it’s an organ meat or a vegetable you’ve never tried. You might even find a new favorite!
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