Organ Meat - Love it Or Hate It
The thought of organ meat can cause some people’s mouth to water or it can make you want to fast for the rest of your life (I tend to lean toward that reaction). But no matter which reaction you possess, organ meat is a popular ingredient in many countries around the world. But as with all things, with the popular usage and all the pros of eating it, there are also many reasons not to indulge.
In reality most organs of any animal is used in some culture. The most popular ones are the liver, tongue, kidneys, brains, heart, stomach, and intestines. In looking over the history of man it becomes apparent that organ meat in the diet was extremely common and maybe even more so than that of eating the muscle meat of the animals. Our ancestors somehow knew that the organs were vital for survival and full of nutrients. You can even find that same focus in the animal kingdom. When a carnivorous animal begins to feast, they always begin with the internal organs.
Pros and Cons
Most organs are full of vitamin B12, protein, iron, and potassium to name a few. These are needed in our bodies and most people are actually getting too little. Therefore, many people stress the importance of eating organs. Liver is the most popular because it is high in iron, vitamin A, zinc, folate, and cholesterol. Ok, maybe it is not popular because of the cholesterol, but that is a large component of liver and many other organs.
Supporters of organ meat consumption stress the high levels of nutrients, but partakers need to also be aware of the dangers that come with it. Just like you need to know about the high amounts of sugar and fat in that delectable double chocolate cake, you should be aware of the protein in your diet. Most organ meats contain exceedingly high amounts of cholesterol. Because of that the American Heart Association recommends that if you have to have your liver to please have only occasionally instead of as a regular part of your diet.
If you are lover of liver, please be aware also of what the purpose of the organ is when it is fully functioning of the body. It was designed to filter out the toxins in the system. If it is doing a good job of it, there is a chance that the toxins are still present in the meat upon consumption. This is not saying that you will die from eating liver and onions, but it is a piece of knowledge that is important.
Other concerns about eating organ meat is that there can be high levels of bacteria if not prepared properly. Experts in the cooking of offal, culinary term of organ meat, take extra care to treat it to ensure that many of the concerns are not present. If you are eating offal that is part of the central nervous system (for example the brain), you need to be aware of diseases such as mad cow disease. Once again, this does not mean that you will get the disease and/or die. Even some animals’ organs can be toxic (Japanese pufferfish) if not prepared properly.
But despite all these concerns, offal can be found in cultures throughout the world and their popularity does not diminish much with the knowledge of health risks. In Europe and the Middle East you will find many dishes made up of brain, chitterlings (intestines), feet, heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, testicles (yes, I said testicles), tongue, nose, and stomach. The most famous is found in Scotland where you can easily find a dish called haggis. It is comprised of the stomach of a sheep and stuffed with cooked liver, heart, lungs, oats, and other seasonings. Isn’t your mouth just watering? If so, you don’t have to travel to Scotland to get it. Most European countries have a version of it in their culinary arsenals.
Latin America likes to use many organ meats also. As stated above, the most popular organs are used in every culture. But noteworthy here is the fact that if you are used to the Mexican type food found in the United States and other countries, you might be slightly surprised as to what makes up your favorite foods. Who loves a quesadilla? I do but not with the cow’s brains that is commonly used. How about tacos? Eyes, tongues, and stomachs are common here. And to think that I’m getting ready to eat a taco right now. Thank goodness I’m in America.
In Asia you will find a popular soup made with pork blood. And if you are really adventurous and remember the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, you’ll recall that in parts of Asia you can enjoy the delicate dish of monkey brains. Though it is not a common one today, if you have the money you can get it during your travels. But most Asian cultures tend to use organ meat in their medicine.
In America you will find the least dishes with organ meat. But if you do desire to eat them you can find dishes made with the heart and liver of the fowl and the traditional southern food of chittlings (pig intestines). You won’t find lungs in any dishes because they were made illegal to sell several years back. Before we proceed I do want to warn anyone if they are offered Rocky Mountain oysters. I personally love seafood and thought that this would be great until my father told me what they really were – the testicles of bulls. I think I’ll pass.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Ready to rush out and savor some offal? I’m not! But many of you might and because I do not discriminate based on dietary traditions I’m including some links to various offal dishes. Hope you enjoy.
- Rocky Mountain Oysters, prairie oysters, Montana tendergroins, cowboy caviar, swinging beef, calf fr
Rocky Mountain Oysters, prairie oysters, Montana tendergroins, cowboy caviar, swinging beef, calf fries
- NetCooks - Haggis Recipe
The Most Traditional of all Scottish Dishes! - 1 cleaned sheep or lamb's stomach bag 2 lbs. dry oatmeal 1 lb. chopped mutton suet 1 lb. lamb or venison liver, boiled and minced 2 cups stock sheep heart and lights, boiled and minced 1 large chopped on
- Roman-Style Tripe Trippa alla Romana Recipe : Mario Batali : Food Network
Food Network invites you to try this Roman-Style Tripe Trippa alla Romana recipe from Mario Batali.
- Beef Organ Meats Recipes : Recipezaar
Categories. Become a member, post a recipe and get free nutritional analysis of the dish on Recipezaar.com