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Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal

McLagan, Jennifer

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ISBN 10: 158008334X / ISBN 13: 9781580083348
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: HRD

Book Condition:New

About this title


Much more than a cookbook, Odd Bits delves into the rich geographical, historical, and religious roles of nose-to-tail cooking.

In a world of costly prime cuts—stately crown roasts, plump pork chops, and regal racks of lamb—it’s easy to forget about (and steer clear of) the more economical, but less lovable parts of the beast—bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and, oh yes, testicles.

Historically, these so-called odd bits have had a regular place on our plates and in our culinary repertoires. In fact, many are considered delicacies and routinely appear in regional specialties. So why do we eschew and waste valuable protein? When have our sensibilities become so squeamish? In short—when did we decide offal had become awful?   

Jennifer McLagan, award-winning author of Bones and Fat, is on a crusade to bring the nose-to-tail style of cooking and eating out of the closet and back onto to our dining tables. Her mission: restoring our respect for the whole animal, developing a taste for its lesser known parts, and learning how to approach them in the kitchen as confidently as we would a steak or a burger.

Serious food lovers will delight in the sheer variety of the dishes that await, ranging from simple to challenging:
·  Headcheese for the Unconvinced
·  Veal Cheeks with Swiss Chard and Olives
·  Cheese and Just a Little Brain Fritters
·  Lamb Neck with Quince and Turnip
·  Brisket Braised with Caramelized Onions and Chile
·  Sweetbreads with Morels and Fresh Fava Beans
·  Moroccan-Style Braised Heart
·  Minted Tripe and Pea Salad
·  Wild Boar Shanks with Cranberries and Chocolate
·  Bone Marrow and Mushroom Custard
Much more than a cookbook, Odd Bits delves into the rich geographical, historical, and religious roles of these unusual meats. McLagan’s enthusiasm for her subject is contagious, and with her insight and humor will convert even non-believers to the pleasure of odd bits.


Featured Recipe: Wine-Braised Beef Cheeks

Serves 6

3 cups / 750 ml red wine
1 onion, halved and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery with leaves, sliced
4 cloves garlic, germ removed
2 fresh bay leaves
1 large sprig rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 to 3 beef cheeks, about 3 pounds / 1.4 kg total, trimmed (see page 29)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons beef dripping or lard
1/2 calf’s foot, about 1 pound / 450 g, prepared (see page 100) (optional)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Pour the wine into a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat so the wine bubbles gently. Tip the saucepan slightly away from you and, using a long match, light the wine. Once the flames die out, light it again, and keep lighting it until it no longer flames. Pour the wine into a large bowl (there should be about 21/2 cups / 625 ml). Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, and peppercorns. Set aside to cool.

Cut the beef cheeks into 2 or 3 pieces so that all the pieces are the same size. Place in the marinade, cover, and refrigerate overnight, turning a couple of times if possible.

Remove the cheeks from the marinade, pat them dry, and season with salt and pepper. Strain the marinade, keeping the liquid and the solids separate.

Preheat the oven to 300°F / 150°C.

In a heavy flameproof casserole or Dutch oven, melt half the fat over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, add the cheeks in batches and brown. Transfer the cheeks to a plate. Lower the heat, add the vegetables, herbs, and peppercorns from the marinade, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until they soften.

Pour in the reserved marinade liquid and bring to a boil. Return the cheeks with any juices to the pan, add the calf’s foot, and return to a boil. Cover the meat with a piece of wet parchment paper and the lid, transfer to the oven, and cook for 3 to 4 hours, or until the cheeks are very tender.

Transfer the cheeks and the foot to a plate.

Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the vegetables to extract all the juice; discard the solids. Let the cooking liquid stand for 5 minutes, then skim off the fat and set the fat aside for another use.

Return the cooking liquid to the pan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid coats the back of a spoon. Meanwhile, cut the meat and skin from the calf’s foot into small dice; discard the bones. Return the cheeks and diced foot to the reduced sauce and reheat gently. Add the vinegar and taste, adding more salt, pepper, and/or vinegar if necessary. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Alternatives: Oxtail, beef shoulder, or shank

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