As many responsible farmers do, we believe in using as much of an animal as we can. This includes eating parts that may be deemed by some as unappealing or “icky”. We say the wimps can stick to eating just the “prime” cuts – bring on the hidden gems! Let’s discuss these at greater length…
Every animal has a heart, kidneys, liver, and tongue; poultry also has a gizzard, which basically serves as teeth and grinds up food. Organ meat tends to be dense and rich. A well-known food show host called beef heart the “best cut” of beef. Cooked, it’s dense, a little chewy, and extremely flavorful.
We save the kidneys from processed rabbits and chickens and enjoy them baked. The flavor is delicate and clean-tasting (not even a hint of pee), and the kidneys are melt-in-your-mouth tender. Most people are also familiar with liver, but fresh liver from grass-fed animals isn’t comparable to what you might buy in a grocery store. Sautéed with onions or just baked, it’s delicious and nutritious.
Have you had deep-fried gizzards? They used to be widely available (like at gas stations), but seem to have fallen out of favor. We like to bake these, too, though slow cooking them also results in an incredibly tasty and tender dish (seriously, falling apart tender). Unfortunately, it’s become difficult to find pastured gizzards and each chicken or duck only has one, so we don’t get these as often as we might like.
Perhaps one of the most underappreciated parts of an animal is the tongue. A fresh beef tongue looks exactly like what it is – the tongue of a large bovine that it used to rip up grass. It’s also a large, dense chunk of meat. Maybe looking at a tongue is too clear a reminder to those who want to insulate themselves from the reality of eating meat that it belonged to a previously living creature. In any case, tongue is tasty and very affordable.
We popped the beef tongue we recently acquired from our friendly (and local) beef purveyor into the slow cooker, along with bay leaves, salt and pepper, sliced onions, garlic, and enough water to cover it. It cooked for around 8 hours, at which time we pulled it out and removed the outer membrane. The exterior skin comes off very easily when it’s still hot (and the dogs enjoyed the leathery treat, so no waste there!). It was then shredded and browned in a pan. Finally, the shredded meat was nestled into corn tortillas and sprinkled with cilantro and hot sauce.
Verdict: muy fácil y delicioso! And what’s better than easy and delicious?