what they are, how to cook them, benefits

Meat offal in recent years they are living a second life, much better than the previous one. If in fact they were once considered waste parts and those who ate them were mostly people who could not afford anything better, today they are increasingly used even by great chefswhich revisit in a modern key some popular recipes that have fallen into disuse over time.

The offal is also known by the name fifth quarter and the reason is that they are parts of meat that do not fall within the four main cuts of the animal. Being made up largely of internal organsthey are sometimes also identified as hidden cuts.

What are offal

  • Tripe,
  • kidneys or kidneys,
  • lungs,
  • liver,
  • Heart,
  • sweetbreads,
  • spleen,
  • small intestine,
  • testicles,
  • brain,
  • lingua,
  • breasts,
  • coda,
  • legs,
  • lion,
  • head,
  • legs.

How to cook offal

All these parts of meat can be cooked in many ways. Many cuts can be cooked in stew, or boiled and served in broth, or again cold in salads, accompanied by tomato sauce, fried or as a filling for sandwiches.

The best-known dishes based on offal

Offal or fifth cut are key ingredients of many local recipes and if over the years some have been forgotten, others endure. Many are part of the street food category such as Lampredotto of Florenceand, sandwich made from one of the four stomachs of cattle, l'abomasowhere he Pani câ meusa from Palernosesame sandwich stuffed with pieces of spleen and veal lung.

In traditional dishes, however, the most used offal is Tripe, present in recipes from many regions. Made up of different parts of the cattle's stomach, it can be cooked in many ways such as stewed or in tomato sauce.

Also very well known Piedmontese mixed fried food which is prepared with sweetbreads, kidneys, loins, brains, liver and calf testicles and leftovers from pork and lamb slaughter. It also comes from Piedmont the financierprepared with veal offal (specifically sweetbreads and back) combined with beef, livers, crests, barbels and chicken eggs, to be sautéed in a pan.

In Veneto, however, they eat Venetian liverin which the strong flavor of the liver is accompanied by that of the onions and, although not liked by everyone, represents a local delicacy.

Veal intestine is the basis of a great classic of Roman cuisine: la don't let go, served as a first course to season rigatoni or as a second course cooked stewed, grilled or baked. Always from the Capital comes the oxtailwhich is nothing other than the beef's tail sautéed in a pan with onion, carrot and celery cut into small pieces, peeled tomato and white wine to deglaze.

How to clean offal

Some offal (not all) needs a specific process before they can be eaten without running risksor even just to make them pleasant to the palate.

The fundamental part in the preparation of such offal is the cleaningwhich is essential and it must be done very meticulously. The reason is that since they are mainly internal organs they are likely to be rich in impurities difficult to digest or harmful, which the body is not able to eliminate as it does with normal toxins – think of the animal's stomach or intestines.

When choosing a piece of the fifth quarter therefore, before thinking about how to cook it it is essential to dedicate yourself to its cleaning, or rather to the bleaching process.

The most immediate way to do this is immerse the cuts for a few minutes in boiling water. This step is usually sufficient to eliminate impurities but often offal they can have a bad smell, which can be mitigated by boiling them in the following liquids.

  • Water and salt. The quickest way to reduce odors is to add a little salt to the water in which you boil the offal.
  • Latte. Boiling offal in milk is a little-known but very useful practice, which gives the meat a very delicate flavour.
  • Water and lemon. This solution, however, not only allows you to whiten and perfume the offal, but also to disinfect it. You can also replace the lemon with other acidic substances such as apple or wine vinegar.

It being understood that cleaning offal is not advice but an indispensable option, it is worth underlining that also cooking methods provided for the different recipes they help eliminate bacteria, impurities and any harmful substances. The spleen fried in boiling oil, for example, or the head that needs to be boiled in water for hours to be consumed can already be said to be quite safe.

In order to avoid taking unnecessary risks, however, when you decide to cook dishes based on meat belonging to the fourth fifth it is always a good idea to make sure you have a few more minutes to spend in the kitchen, so as not to neglect any fundamental step not only for the good success of the dish, but also for your health.

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