Our food writers Robert Sietsema and Sarah DiGregorio explore the wide world of stuff you can eat inside of animals (and humans) that are not an arm or a leg. Remember, skin’s an organ, too!
1. Duck feet. When deboned, duck feet are sometimes called webs, and, when used in southern Chinese recipes, are often served stuffed or braised in casseroles.
2. Calves Liver. Istrians sautee their calves liver plain, and then sprinkle on a salty scallion sauce, as in the picture above.
3. Liver Pudding. Looking perhaps a little too much like a pair of disembodied legs left behind by a serial killer, liver pudding is a specialty of the Deep South that can come in the form of a sausage or a cake.
4. Head Cheese. Head cheese, of course, is anything that comes off a pig’s head (and sometimes, what’s inside, too), cooked down by long boiling into a jellied mass of scraps. It’s scrumptious, partaking of the differential textures of ears, nose, cheek, and, yes, eyelids, running from soft and yielding to almost bony and back again. A friend claims he once found a package in the refrigerator case of a Brooklyn supermarket that had a pair of intact eyelids staring back at him.
5. Pork shin. Most bone marrow is the tissue inside the shin bone of a cow, pig, or lamb. It’s also mostly fat, is delicious, and commonly spread on toast and served with sea salt. We recently encountered it at Roberta’s, the hipster pizza hang hidden in a Bushwick industrial neighborhood.
6. Tripas. When you order the tripas taco at your local taco truck, what you’re going to get is rubbery, thin-bore porcine intestines, heavily sauced.
7. Fire Casserole. Pig intestines are central to Chinese cooking in several regions, nowhere more so than on the island of Taiwan. At the new Taiwanese restaurant Island of Taiwan both small and large intestines are stewed and sauteed in a ““fire casserole.”
8. Blood sausage. Polish blood sausage is called kiszka. These blood sausages are generally made by simmering blood with fatty meat until the blood has reduced enough that it will completely congeal upon cooling.
9. Deglazed with onions. When good organs go wrong: This dish deployed a cows’ liver, with onions, cut into giant dense cubes that were like eating a dog’s rubber toys. The onions were not even slightly caramelized, though they were cooked somewhat. And the whole thing had been deglazed with what tasted like balsamic vinegar and maybe some red wine.
10. Pork Cracklins. The skin is an organ too! You can’t go wrong with skin, lard, and salt–nothing articial or processed there. The crunchy and salty goodness of pork cracklin‘s makes them a perfect snack, as well.
11. Anticuchos. The premiere street food of Lima: hefty batons of charcoal-grilled beef heart.
12. Beef Tripe. Prepared properly, beef tripe is washed exhaustively, giving it a glowing, near-white appearance. At Puerto Rican old-timer La Taza de Oro (“The Golden Cup”), the mondongo incorporates bits of potato, orange pumpkin, and cilantro, and it’s amazingly tasty.
BONUS! Human Placenta. There’s no reason to believe that eating placenta is safe, but a pair of “extreme eaters” recently prepared it with poached egg salad.
And how did the placenta taste?”Comparable flavors turned out to be duck, a burger, a fatty rib eye, and liver. My first impression was how much like steak the texture was, there was a definite grain to it, like beef. It was very good.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009