or 'offal', are the internal organs and external parts of the animal that
are edible. Variety meats is a term used often in the US and offal is used
in the UK. The Larousse Gastronomique, 1988 edition, uses two categories
for variety meats: white offal or abat blanc (marrow, brain, feet,
stomach, sweetbreads and testicles) and red offal or abat rouge (heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, tongue and lungs). Two professional cooking
books, The New Professional Chef and Professional
Cooking, divide offal by glandular or organ meats, and muscle meats.
Terms and definitions for variety meats or offal are sometimes location
defined, for example animelles are testicles in French, but they are known
as 'fries' or 'oysters' in the US. Modern cookbooks have relatively little
information and recipes for these animal parts, but looking back to books
such as The Epicurean, the cookbook from the venerable Delmonico's
restaurant, and a 1960's edition of Larousse Gastronomique has
lots of recipes for these under-utilized parts of the animal.
on culture and the animal, the variety meat parts that are used in culinary
applications include: the whole head, cock's combs, brains, ears, eyes,
the muzzle, snout and palates, cheeks, tongue, sweetbreads and other glands,
belly (including stomaches, intestines, mesentery), blood, bone and spinal
marrow, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, speen, testicles, tails and feet.
Many of these terms are described below.
variety meats requires sometimes planning ahead combined with long, slow
methods, while others are to be handled and cooked á la minute. One
variety meat coming from different animals will yield oftentimes very different
results in taste but the cooking method can be similar. For example, veal
heart is milder in flavor than a lamb's, but lamb and calves feet can be
prepared in much the same way. The definitions are listed at the end.
some basics for preparing the popular types of variety meats:
If whole, remove outer skin. Fresh poultry livers with gall bladders must
be carefully removed before preparing. Liver should not be prepared in
advance. Can be prepared and served alone or chopped and used in recipes.
Remove the veins along with attached tissues. Wipe any clots way. This
meat is lean and tough. Can be chopped and added to other chopped meats,
or left whole prepared.
Remove fat and membranes and veins present. Can be sautéed, grilled,
Soak overnight in water set in cooler or in several changes of fresh cold
water to remove blood, which can darken the meat. Meat is ready when water
is clear. Blanch in water, lightly simmering for up to 10 minutes depending
on animal. Place in cold water and peel off the membranes and fat that
surround the meat. Place the sweetbreads on a sheet pan lined with cheesecloth,
and set a weight over it (like another sheet pan with weights set on top
like cans of food). Doing this helps to firm the sweetbreads. They will
firm up after a couple of hours. They are often served sautéed
or pan fried.
Fragile in nature. As with sweetbreads, soak in several changes of fresh,
cold water until water is clear. Remove membranes. Most recipes require
them to be poached in court boullion before preparation.
Available fresh or cured, also smoked. Simmer in water with onions, carrots
and desired flavorings, allow to cool then trim gristle, bones if attached,
and excess fat. Lastly peel off the skin.
When fresh, look for ones that are plump and firm. Remove skin and as
with sweetbreads, soak in several changes of water until water is clear.
Softly simmer in lightly salted water to firm them and to remove excess
Trim surrounding fat and connective tissues. Fresh poultry gizzards may
contain a gravel sac that needs to be removed.
Remove excess fat. If disjointing is need, be careful to cut at the sections
as the bones can splinter.
terms, foreign words used and definitions for many variety meats. All terminology
listed in alphabetical order.
Spinal marrow (usually in the case of beef or veal)
Chaps: Pig's cheek (smoked), used as like smoked bacon
Fat: Membrane from intestines (pig or sheep) with a netting look to
Cheek or lower jaw, usually in the case of pork, see 'bath chaps'
Pig's large intestines
Comb (Cockscomb): Fleshy part of the tops of heads of gallinaceans
"Fries": Testicles—beef, veal, pork, lamb
Gras: Enlarged livers from force-fed geese
Poultry innards: gizzards, heart and liver
Stomach of a bird
Maw: Stomach of a pig
Fat covered gland, found in veal shoulder
The soft center of animal bones, mostly in beef legs, as 'marrowbone'
spleen—pig or calf
Membrane holding together the intestines, usually in the case of calves
Beef spleen from Kosher butchers
de Boeuf: Beef muzzle (French)
Not to be confused with the actual ox animal, ox is a term given to less
cuts or parts of
beef, for example 'oxtail' comes from beef not from an actual ox.
Beef tails, also 'ox-tails'
de Boeuf: Beef Palate (French)
Oysters: Testicles—beef or veal
Mountain Oysters: Testicles—beef or veal
Maw: Stomach of a pig
Thymus gland of lamb or calf (veal), (disappears when animals mature)
Stomach: Cow, calf or lamb
Tripe: first stomach of beef or lamb, has smooth appearance
Tripe: second stomach of beef or lamb, has honeycomb appearance
Animal's bladder (French)
great sources were used for this article. Most notably, if you need recipes
for any of the above variety meats, I refer you to these older books, which
may be out of print. They may be available at used book stores.
Charles. The Epicurean. Evanston: Willy, 1920.
Turgeon, Charlotte and Fround, Nina, ed. Larousse Gastronomique. New
York: Crown, 1965. Sixth Printing.
Time Life, eds. Variety Meats. The Good Cook Series. Alexandra: Time-Life,
Wayne. Professional Baking. New York: John Wiley, 1985.
Conway, Linda Glick, ed. The New Professional Chef. New York: Van Nostrand,
Look up each offal meat separately for recipes in this edition of Larousse.
The older one above had all parts together, and in greater detail.
Lang, Jenifer Harvey, ed. Larousse Gastronomique. The New American
Edition of the World's Greatest
New York: Crown, 1988.
culinary and previous preparation notes.