Sunday, 20 January 2008

All about offal

"You will include lots of offal, won't you?" said my publisher. "You've got to use every part of the animal"

"Hmmmm". I said, thinking of tongues, trotters and tripe, none of them great favourites. "I don't think people are that much into offal these days"

"But this book is called The Frugal Cook"

"Tell you what" I said rashly. I'll go down the road and look in my local butcher. "If they sell them, I'll include them."

Good news and bad news. They don't appear to sell tripe but they do sell trotters, hearts and tongues. And kidneys and liver, of course.

I decided to postpone the tongue challenge and make a batch of stewed steak and kidney with portobello mushrooms. Ox kidney is unbelievably cheap - just over £2 a pound (450g) so I bought more than usual, cutting down the braising steak. It made the steak and kidney pie filling pretty gamey but with a fantastically good, rich gravy, I have to say, much helped by the addition of half a bottle of winter ale I happened to have had left over from Christmas.

I decided not to put it in a pie as there wasn't time to cool it first (if you put pastry over a hot filling it goes soggy). And it makes the dish more flexible - you can either serve it with floating lids (see below) or with baked potatoes or a root vegetable purée.

In the end we stayed too long chatting with the neighbours downstairs (my husbands ex-wife and her partner. True) and I ran out of time. So we ate it with boiled parsnips and stir fried kale. (Another great frugal buy - 32p for a large head, big enough for four). There are enough parsnips left over for a soup tomorrow lunchtime which is good. And leftover stew for tomorrow night.

* To make floating pastry lids, take a pack of ready-rolled pastry out of the fridge, let it warm up a bit then unroll it. (If you try to unroll it straight from the fridge it cracks) Cut it in half lengthways then divide each piece into three equal sized rectangles. Transfer to a baking tray(s), brush lightly with milk or beaten egg then prick all over with a fork to stop the pastry ballooning up. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for about 5-6 minutes then turn the heat down to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 for another 6-8 minutes until well risen and nicely browned.


Dan said...

Would love to see some more offal recipes on here. It's criminal that people don't know just how simple and tasty -- and cheap -- it is to use. Well done Frugal Cook! Great site!


Fiona Beckett said...

Thanks, Dan and I'm sure your wish will be granted over the coming weeks!

James said...

I cooked hearts for the first time back in May. All you're told is they're going to be tough. But that's only if you don't cook them long enough. Actually, once stuffed I found them very like beef olives. It's amazing what people miss out on. And the other day I was bundling the load of giblets - duck and chicken - into the stock pot, when I realized I could use the livers for something else, so I pan fried them, added a little sherry, balsamic, turned them onto toasted french bread that had been sitting in the freezer and hey presto, a credit crunch lunch.

Anonymous said...

I have recently discovered pigs cheek. Wonderful if cooked slowly in cider. And very very cheap! I found a recipe from Hugh Fernley-Whitingstall online. Em