Offal feature image showing a plate of raw offal with a sprig of herbs on a wooden table

Unpacking The Offal Mystery: Everything You Need To Know

Let’s delve into the murky world of offal.

In much of our Western world, offal is frowned upon, scoffed at even. Most will turn their snouts up and grunt in disgust at the mere mention of kidney, tongue, brains, and giblets. Yet offal used to be a staple in our not-so-distant past.

Much of Europe and the Eastern world still prizes offal, gracing the recipe of many a dish. And, I’m right there with them.

Since around 2016, I’ve been including organ meats and offal into my diet initially for health benefits. But the more I ventured into this world, the more I was intrigued and the more I come to love the flavors and textures offal has to offer.

My hope is that I’ll open a Pandora’s Box of culinary delights – and even some non-culinary. Teasing you enough to find yourself tempted to try such things as stuffed roast heart, oxtail stew, liver and onions, or any other offal dishes. Ultimately, my mission is to get people (you) to eat offal.

There’s not only a whole new world of taste but many amazing health-boosting benefits that can be found in offal, especially in organ meats.

Check out my post about the Health Boosting Benefits of Organ Meat where I talk more about organ meats specifically and how they can optimise your health.

This is gonna be comprehensive, I’m digging deep here. So, feel free to use the table of contents to skip to the bits you’re interested in or if you’re in it for the long haul, grab a cuppa and let’s dig in.

What is Offal

The term offal… sounds kinda, well, awful, don’t it? But, the term actually comes from Old English “off-fall,” meaning the bits that “fall off” following the first cut of the underbelly of the animal carcass. Yep, it’s not about being dreadful; it’s about not wasting a thing.

Originally, it referred to specific animal parts that fell out as described above. But these days, it’s a catch-all term for pretty much everything other than the usual muscle meats. Take oxtail, for example. Not technically offal, but you’ll often see it lumped in with the term.

Other names you may see other than offal are variety meats, organ meats, and pluck. The Italian call it quinto quarto (translated to the fifth quarter), and les abats in French culinary lingo. Each term has its own backstory and specific parts it refers to. But for now, know that they’re all connected to the edible organs and entrails we’re diving into.

Are Organ Meats Offal?

Yes, but not all offal is organ meat. Simple!

Organs meats include the inner organs of the butchered animal, namely the liver, kidney, heart, lungs, and brain. Sweetbread can also be included in the list although doesn’t always make the list.

For more on organ meats and how they’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, check out my post on organ meat health benefits.

More Palatable Variety Meat

Let’s face it, the word offal is unfortunate and perhaps off-putting for some and even comes with a stigma.

That’s why I think at some point they started being called variety meats – a much more palatable phrase. However, it covers all the same parts of the beast.

What the Pluck

Ever heard of “pluck”? No, we’re not talking about courage here.

In the world of offal, “pluck” is a term that dates back to Old English. It’s related to “pluckian,” which means to pull off or remove. Makes sense, right?

So, once the offal falls out of the animal carcass these are the parts literally plucked from the animal by abattoir workers.

Interestingly (at least to me) all the organs in the pluck are usually connected by the windpipe. That’s right, it’s like nature’s way of bundling them together for us!

Traditionally, the pluck includes the heart, liver, lungs, and often the trachea or windpipe.

The Types of Offal

Ready for a treasure hunt? Offal isn’t just one thing; it’s a whole collection of edible organs and parts from various animals.

And don’t think these are just throw-away bits. Each type has its unique health perks that can do wonders for your body.

The most common types are beef offal, pork offal, and lamb offal. Although we also eat most internal organs of the chicken. Goose and duck liver are used by the French in foie gras.

Let’s dive into this incredible list, and don’t worry, we’re gonna break down where each one comes from and what health benefits they offer.


Ah, the liver and its very distinct flavour. It’s like Mother Nature’s multivitamin of the organ meats.

Beef liver is the most nutrient-rich and more delicate in flavor. Pork liver and lambs liver is more livery in taste where chicken livers are the most popular with it’s less distinct liver taste.

Packed with essential nutrients like Vitamin A, B12, and iron, beef liver is a powerhouse. Great for vision and boosting energy levels.

If you’re going to add any of the organ meats to your diet, I’d suggest adding liver and preferably beef liver for it’s unrivaled health benefits. Read more about beef liver benefits.

Commonly cooked with onions or bacon – or both or made into a pâté. Foie gras is made from the liver of either duck or geese that are controversially force fed to fatten them up.


The bean-shaped organ meat with a very distinct flavour. Beef kidneys are large and bobbly while lamb kidneys are much smaller and almost cute in comparison. Pig kidneys are somewhere in between.

They’re strong in essential nutrients like selenium, iron and copper and other important vitamins. Ideal for maintaining a healthy immune system.

Classic recipes include devilled kidneys and steak and kidney pie.


The lining of an animal’s stomach, tripe is commonly consumed in many cultures. Primarily from cows, with its spongy texture, tripe is rich in protein and has a good amount of calcium for bone health.

In terms of cooking, tripe is a staple in dishes around the world, from Italian trippa alla Romana to Mexican menudo. Slow cooking is often the method of choice to achieve that tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try a hearty bowl of tripe stew? Your taste buds and your body will thank you.


There’s nothing quite like a hearty oxtail stew to warm the cockles on a chilly day. Slow-cooked to the point of falling apart, it’ll get your umami taste buds firing. Literally the tail of an ox or cow.

When it comes to cooking, this part shines in slow-cooked dishes like oxtail stew or oxtail soup. It’s a staple in Caribbean, African, and Asian cuisines, among others. Slow-cooking not only tenderizes the meat but also allows all those flavors to meld together.

Oxtail is rich in collagen & gelatine and provides healthy fats. Great for joint health. Plus, it’s a solid source of iron, helping to keep your energy levels up and your immune system strong.


Ready for a heart-to-heart about, well, hearts? Eating animal hearts isn’t just for the adventurous; it’s a nutritional powerhouse, too. Hearts are another organ meat loaded with CoQ10, a nutrient beneficial for heart health—how fitting!

Now, size does matter here. An ox heart can weigh up to 3 pounds, making it a meaty meal. On the flip side, chicken hearts are tiny but just as packed with nutrients.

Popular dishes include grilled chicken hearts and stuffed ox heart. Whether you go big with ox or opt for the petite chicken variety, you’re in for a hearty meal that does the body good.


Lungs, often called “lights” in culinary lingo, might not be the first thing you think to munch on, but they’ve got their perks. For one, they’re rich in protein and low in fat. Yep, lungs can help build those muscles.

You’ll mostly find lungs in traditional dishes like haggis or certain stews. Now, it’s essential to know that they have a unique texture—kind of sponge-like—which some folks love and others, not so much.

But hey, if you’re into diving deep into the world of offal, give lights a go. Your muscle gains might just thank you.

Trotters (Pig’s Feet)

Trotters, or pig’s feet, have been a staple in many cuisines for generations. These little guys are packed with collagen, which can be a real game-changer for your skin and joints. Say hello to a youthful glow and bye-bye to achy knees.

In terms of recipes, trotters are often slow-cooked in soups or stews, turning super tender in the process. Ever heard of “Pig Feet Stew”? It’s a comfort food classic in many places.

So, if you’re looking to explore offal while boosting your skin and joint health, trotters are a good start. Give ’em a try!


Gizzards, the muscular stomach found in birds, are a chewy yet satisfying bite. Health-wise, they offer a solid punch of protein and essential nutrients like iron and B12. Yeah, it’s a nutrient party in there!

Recipes often involve frying or grilling gizzards after a good marinating session. Ever tried “Fried Chicken Gizzards”? They make a great appetizer or a side dish.

Don’t let their tough texture intimidate you. Cook ’em right, and gizzards could be your new go-to for a protein boost. Give these little nutrient powerhouses a shot!


Guilty of tricking unsuspecting diners at fancy restaurants – they are certainly not bread and not particularly sweet either. But they are very yummy and considered gourmet food.

They come in two forms…


An organ meat that’s rich in vitamins like B12 and important minerals like calcium and high in protein and full of phosphorus, it’s a health win.

In the kitchen, sweetbread is often grilled or pan-fried. The famous French dish, “Ris de Veau,” showcases pan-seared sweetbread in all its glory. Another hit is the Italian “Animelle,” where it’s breaded and fried.

Try the pancreas, and you’ll get more than just a tasty dish; you’ll get a boost of vital nutrients, too.

Thymus Gland

The thymus gland is rich in Vitamin C and zinc. It comes mostly from calves and lambs.

Ever heard of “Fried Thymus”? This dish is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and often enjoyed in Mediterranean cuisines. Another popular preparation is a classic French sauté with mushrooms and onions.

Give the thymus gland a try, and you’ll find it’s not only flavorful but also a bundle of health benefits.


Ah, giblets. Remember those little bits tucked away in a bag when you buy a whole chicken or turkey. They include the heart, liver, and gizzard. These guys are nutrient-dense, offering a good amount of protein, iron, and a variety of B vitamins.

As for recipes, giblet gravy is a Thanksgiving classic. But have you tried giblet paella or giblet stew? These dishes make for a hearty and nutritious meal.

So, next time you’re handling a whole bird, don’t toss that bag. Turn those giblets into something tasty and good for you!

Caul Fat

This lacy, fatty membrane called caul fat is usually from the outer stomach lining of a pig or hog. Caul fat is used for wrapping or barding chopped-up meats including organ and red meat to hold it together while cooking. High in good fats.


Yep, you can eat these. An organ meat mostly from cows, pigs, or lambs and in some cases calves’ brains. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for brain health—kinda ironic, right? But don’t knock it till you try it.

I’ve tried pig’s and calves’ brains with scrambled eggs – cooked in butter, they’re tasty indeed. Ever heard of the French dish cervelle de veau? That’s sautéed calf brains for you. In the Southern U.S., they’re often battered and deep-fried.

So if you’re up for it, eating brains could be a smart move. They offer unique nutrients and can be pretty tasty if cooked right.


Tongue is a delicious offal that’s surprisingly tender when cooked right. It’s rich in protein, and you’ll also find a good amount of vitamin B12 in there.

Like corned beef, only better. The most common types are ox (cow) tongue and pork on the delicatessen as a cold meat. However, they can be cooked in the oven, pressure or slow cooker. They’re well worth a try. Lean and rich in Vitamin B12.

Bone Marrow

Bone marrow – the buttery interior of bones! This delicacy is a hit among chefs and foodies alike. Why? Besides its melt-in-your-mouth goodness, it’s also nutrient-dense. Think healthy fats and collagen, great for skin and joint health.

You’ve probably heard of “bone marrow on toast,” right? It’s a simple, yet gourmet dish that’s found a home in many upscale restaurants. Another favorite is bone marrow broth, a comfort food that’s like a hug for your insides.

This is one of my favorites – I have it at least twice a week, roasted with a pinch of salt – lovely.

Nose and Snout

When it comes to offbeat eating, don’t turn up your nose at, well, nose and snout! Especially popular in Asia and some European countries, these parts often get overlooked but pack a punch of flavor and collagen. Yep, collagen. That stuff that’s great for your skin, hair, and nails.

Nose and snout are commonly slow-cooked until tender and used in stews or even deep-fried for a crunchy snack. You may have encountered them in the Filipino dish “sisig” or the Italian “cotenna.”

So, next time you’re thinking about a collagen boost, forget the expensive supplements. Give nose and snout a try, and chew your way to better health.


A muscle meat technically speaking but it gets bundled in with all the other variety meats. Beef and veal cheeks are the most common. Slow-cooking cheeks are the way to go, giving you a mouth-watering, delight. No surprise after being naturally tenderized from the vast amount of chewing it’s had to endure.

Loaded with protein, cheeks also offer a good dose of B vitamins, essential for energy and overall health. They’re the star in recipes like “Beef Cheek Ragu” and the Spanish classic, “Carrilladas.”

So, if you’re tired of the same old cuts, give cheeks a go. Your taste buds and body will thank you.


Mostly from cows and pigs, the spleen might not be the first organ meat you think of when considering offal, but it has its merits. Found in mammals, the spleen is rich in iron and offers a unique texture that becomes tender when cooked properly.

For your health, spleen provides valuable protein and essential amino acids. Its richness in iron makes it an excellent choice for people struggling with low iron levels. In the culinary world, spleen is often used in Italian cuisine, like the famous Sicilian sandwich “Pane con la Milza.”

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to boost your iron intake, give spleen a try!


Eyes, particularly fish eyes, are considered delicacies in some parts of the world. While they might seem odd to some, they’re packed with nutrients. Fish eyes, for instance, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and benefits for heart health.

In terms of cooking, they’re often featured in Asian soups or stews. Cow eyes, although less common, can also be consumed and offer a gelatinous texture. They’re generally simmered to tenderize them and release their flavors.

If you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons, eyes can offer a unique experience while boosting your omega-3 intake.

Pigs’ Tails

Pig tails are a lesser-known cut but offer a succulent, gelatinous texture that’s simply mouth-watering when cooked right. They’re also rich in collagen, which is fantastic for your skin, nails, and hair.

In terms of recipes, pig tails are often slow-cooked in soups, stews, or even smoked. They take on flavors really well, so feel free to get creative with spices and marinades. The Southern U.S. and various Asian cuisines have long-standing traditions of cooking pig tails, often using them to flavor beans or greens.

Pigs’ Ears

Pig’s ears aren’t just chew toys for your furry friends; they’re a crispy delight for humans too. Rich in collagen, they’re good for your hair and skin – Ideal for maintaining skin elasticity.

Typically deep-fried or grilled, pig’s ears are a popular snack in various global cuisines. From the Southern U.S. to Spain and China, you’ll find them served up as crunchy appetizers or even main dishes.

So, if you’re open to expanding your culinary horizon, give pig’s ears a try. You might just find yourself head over heels—or should we say, “ears over tail?”


Suet is the hard fat around the kidneys and loin area. This stuff is a calorie-dense energy booster and also offers some vitamin D. When rendered, it’s often used to make tallow.

You’ll often find suet in traditional British recipes like puddings and pies. Its high smoke point makes it great for frying and sautéing, too. Cut into small pieces and fry to make cracklings – so good.

I’ve written an article all about suet, check-it ‘what is suet’.


Bones might not be the first thing you think of eating, but they’ve got a lot to offer. The marrow inside is rich in healthy fats, amino acids, and vitamins like B12. Bones themselves are packed with minerals like calcium and phosphorus.

Broths and stocks made from bones are not only soul-warming but also have a range of health benefits. They’re excellent for gut health and joint support, among other things.

Don’t just toss those bones after a hearty meal; boil ’em, simmer ’em, and get yourself a delicious, nutrient-rich broth. You’ll be doing both your taste buds and your health a big favor.


You can’t beat a bit of pork crackling. Difficult to get right – or at least in my case – but worth the effort. It’s rich in collagen, supporting skin health and wound healing.

Famous dishes like pork rinds or crispy chicken skin are more than just tasty. They offer a boost of amino acids and can even have some omega-3 fatty acids.


Blood is another ingredient you might not have considered eating but has been a staple in various cuisines around the world. It’s packed with protein and offers a good amount of iron and other nutrients.

Blood sausages like Black Pudding in the UK and Morcilla in Spain are famous dishes. You can also find blood used as a thickener in soups and stews. Blood pancakes are a thing, too, especially in Scandinavian countries.

So, if you can get past the idea of eating blood, you’ll find it’s a versatile ingredient that adds richness and depth to dishes, not to mention the health benefits it brings to the table.


Intestines might not be the first thing on your grocery list, but they’ve got a lot to offer. They’re nutrient-packed, especially rich in B vitamins like B12, essential for brain function and energy levels. Make sure to clean and cook ’em well to keep things safe.

In global cuisines, intestines are more than just a throwaway part. One common use is as sausage casings, which give sausages their shape and a little snap when you bite into them. In dishes like the Korean Gopchang, intestines are the star, grilled to perfection.


Ah, chitterlings! They’re basically the small intestines of a pig, and they’ve got a special place in Southern and soul food culture. These overlooked parts are protein-rich and also provide some minerals like iron.

Preparing chitterlings takes time and care, as they need thorough cleaning and a long simmer. But when cooked right, they offer a unique, chewy texture. Many folks deep-fry ’em or cook ’em in a stew.


Called “Rocky Mountain oysters,” they’re packed with protein and high in nutrients like zinc, which is crucial for testosterone production. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Typically, they’re sliced, breaded, and deep-fried. In fine dining, you might find them prepared in a more gourmet fashion, paired with unique sauces and garnishes.

Yes, I have tried goats testicles and they’re actually tasty. Do you have the balls to try them?


Animal penis, often called “pizzle,” is more common on menus in some countries than you might think. It’s a rich source of collagen, and some folks say it boosts stamina. Hey, to each their own, right?

Commonly served in soups or stews in Asian cuisine, it’s prepared in a way that masks its original form. In Western countries, it’s not as popular but can be found in exotic meat markets or adventurous restaurants.

So, if you’re up for pushing your culinary boundaries, remember: pizzle packs a nutritional punch and could be a unique talking point at your next dinner party.


Eating animal uterus, particularly pig uterus, isn’t for the faint of heart, but it has its fans. In some Asian cuisines, it’s considered a delicacy and believed to help with fertility and hormonal balance. You heard that right, it’s got a good chunk of nutrients in there.

Commonly used in stir-fries or soups, it has a chewy texture. If you’re an adventurous eater, you can find it at specialty markets or restaurants that offer a broader range of animal parts.

So, if you’re up for trying something truly unique, give animal uterus a go. It’s nutrient-packed and offers a culinary experience you won’t easily forget.

Popular Offal and Organ Meat Dishes

Maybe not everyone’s first choice on the menu, but they’re a hidden gem in the culinary world. Rich in flavor and loaded with nutrients, these “variety meats” have been cherished in diverse cultures for ages.

We’re talking about all those often-overlooked parts like liver, tripe, kidney, tongue, brains, and even heart. Whether you’re a seasoned offal eater or a curious newbie, we’ve got a delicious rundown of popular dishes from around the globe.

Prepare to expand your palate and discover why offal is so awesome!

  1. Haggis: This Scottish classic of sheep’s stomach stuffed with liver, heart, and lung, rolled oats and seasoned, is often served with mashed potatoes and turnips (neeps & tatties) – a wholesome meal perfect for a cold evening sitting by the fire with a dram of whiskey just as the Scots do.
  2. Brawn (Head Cheese): Head cheese isn’t cheese at all! It’s a terrine made from pork heads. Boiled down until tender, the meat is then set into a gelatinous loaf. Sliced thin, it’s a hit on crackers or in sandwiches. Plus, you get a healthy dose of collagen and protein. A personal favorite of mine, see my brawn adventures here.
  3. Chicken Liver Pâté: Smooth, creamy, and perfect on a slice of crusty bread. Chicken liver pâté combines the richness of liver with butter and spices. Not only a treat for the tastebuds, it’s also a great source of vitamin A and iron.
  4. Devilled Kidneys: These aren’t your grandma’s kidneys—unless she was a big fan of spice! Lamb kidney, sautéed in a fiery sauce, usually made with mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a variety of spices. They make a great appetizer or a hearty breakfast. Plus, kidney is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
  5. Menudo: This Mexican soup uses beef stomach, or tripe. Hearty and spicy, it’s often enjoyed as a hangover cure and is loaded with herbs and spices.
  6. Liver and Bacon (and/or Onions): Simple yet flavorful, this dish involves pan-fried liver, usually from a calf or chicken. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and B12.
  7. Tripe Tacos: A popular street food in Mexico, these tacos feature well-cooked, seasoned tripe. A bite of these offers a unique, chewy texture.
  8. Beef Tongue Tacos: Don’t knock it ’til you try it. Beef tongue is tender and beefy. Served in tacos, it’s a hit in many Latin cuisines.
  9. Boudin Noir: This French blood sausage is a gourmet delight. Made of pork blood, fat, and seasonings, it’s traditionally served with apples or potatoes.
  10. Fegato alla Veneziana: An Italian delicacy, it’s thinly sliced calf liver sautéed with onions. A great source of iron, this dish is a Venetian classic.
  11. Stuffed Beef Heart: Slow-cooked and stuffed with a mix of herbs, breadcrumbs, and spices. High in protein, this dish is a comfort food staple in many cultures.
  12. Chopped Liver: A Jewish delicacy, made of cooked chicken livers, onions, and hard-boiled eggs. A spread or a side, it’s rich in protein and essential amino acids.
  13. Sisig: A Filipino favorite made from pig’s head and liver, seasoned and grilled to perfection. Often compared to eating haggis, it’s served sizzling hot, it’s a go-to for adventurous eaters.

Offal: A Global Phenomenon

In Asia, especially in countries like China and Japan, it never lost its place at the table. From the famed “dim sum” featuring chicken feet to skewered chicken hearts, offal has been cherished.

Indigenous peoples in North America honored the entire animal by consuming even its internal organs. They particularly esteemed organs like the liver and kidneys as they believed these parts to be highly nutritious.

Even among the Masai people of Africa, the ritual consumption of raw blood mixed with milk is a testament to how offal has been integrated into various traditions.

In France, dishes like foie gras, made from duck or goose liver, are considered gourmet food and are a staple of French fine dining.

Latin American countries also have a long history of offal consumption. Dishes like “menudo,” a spicy Mexican soup with tripe, are both beloved and reviled.

In Iceland, there’s a traditional dish called “slátur”. It involves lamb’s blood and offal stuffed into the animal’s stomach.

In the Philippines, a popular dish is “isaw,” skewered chicken or pig intestines that are grilled and eaten street-food style.

The Sardinian delicacy “Su Filindeu” involves sheep’s milk, offal, and a special kind of pasta. It’s so intricate that only a few people know how to make it.

Australian Aborigines also have a long history with offal. They particularly value the kangaroo’s liver and kidneys, consuming them shortly after the hunt.

In Peru, “anticuchos” are skewers of beef heart marinated in various spices and grilled. It’s a beloved street food and considered a must-try for visitors.

In Ethiopia, “Kitfo” is a dish that includes raw minced offal, often liver, spiced up and served as a delicacy.

In Eastern Europe, “kholodets” is a jellied meat dish made with pig trotters or cow’s hooves for the gelatin, along with bits of offal. It’s served cold, often during the holidays.

In Korea, “Gopchang” is a dish featuring grilled intestines, commonly filled with a variety of seasonings and vegetables.

Sweden has “Pölsa,” a hash-like dish that contains liver and heart, mixed with grains and spices. It serves as comfort food.

Offal: Not Just For Eating

Offal is more than just an adventurous bite on your plate; it’s a treasure trove of uses that go far beyond the culinary world.

From historical ink-making to modern pharmaceuticals, these overlooked animal parts serve a wide range of practical functions.

Whether you’re into DIY crafts or just keen to understand how our ancestors made the most of every bit of the animal, you’ll be amazed at how offal steps in.

Let’s dive into some other common offal uses.

Tallow Soap: Suet is often rendered down to tallow for soap-making. This soap is rich in natural moisturizers.

Candles: Beef fat can be rendered to make tallow candles. These have been used for centuries for lighting.

Drum Skins: In some cultures, animal hides, including from the stomach, are used to make drum skins.

Fishing Bait: Certain types, like liver, are popular as fishing bait due to their strong scent.

Pet Food: Many internal organs are used in the production of pet food, providing essential nutrients for dogs and cats.

Traditional Medicine: In some cultures, particular types of offal are believed to have medicinal properties. For example, deer antlers in Chinese medicine.

Leather Goods: Animal skins, including from the internal organs, can be used to create certain types of leather.

Glue: Bones and hooves can be boiled down to make glue, a practice that dates back to ancient times.

Fertilizer: Crushed bones and other offal can be used as a rich source of nutrients for plants.

Art Supplies: Bone ash is used in ceramics and pigments.

Ink Production: Some types of ink historically used gall from animal bladders.

Bone Char: Used for sugar refining and in water filtration systems.

Gelatin: Obtained from collagen inside animal bones and used in food and pharmaceuticals.

Collagen Supplements: Ground-down bones and connective tissues are used for making collagen powders.

Renet: A component of some animal stomachs, used in cheese-making.

Parchment: Animal skins were historically used to make parchment for writing.

Photography: Gelatin is also used in old-school photography processes.

Cosmetics: Animal fats like tallow are sometimes used in lotions and creams.

Research: Various organs are used for scientific study, contributing to medical advances.

Each of these uses shows how offal has a life beyond the dinner plate, providing utility and even artistry in everyday life.

Offal by the Pros

If you’ve ever thought offal was only for the brave or the broke, think again. Top chefs from around the world have been elevating these “forgotten” cuts into gourmet experiences.

From old-school culinary legends to modern gastronomic pioneers, these pros are proving many types of offal can be awfully good.

Fergus Henderson – Owner of St. John in London. Famous for his “nose to tail” philosophy. Dishes like roasted bone marrow have become iconic. His London restaurant, St. John, is an offal aficionado’s dream.

Chris Cosentino – San Francisco’s Cockscomb serves up creative offal dishes, like beef heart tartare, redefining what’s considered edible. His San Francisco-based Cockscomb is a haven for adventurous eaters.

April Bloomfield – Known for her work at The Spotted Pig, a New York gastropub where you might find deviled kidneys on the menu.

Andrew Zimmern – Not a restaurant chef, but his TV shows have featured offal dishes from around the world, expanding mainstream acceptance.

Anthony Bourdain – The late chef was a big fan of offal, often exploring the variety meats of different cultures in his TV shows.

Jose Andres – This Spanish-American chef owns several restaurants and frequently features dishes like grilled pork ears and sweetbreads.

Jennifer McLagan – A chef and author who wrote a whole book on cooking offal, with recipes ranging from brains to tripe.


So there you have it – everything you need to know about the types of offal… otherwise known as variety meats.

You’ll now know that offal is the collective word for every part of the beast including the bits, bobs, entrails, and internal organs – basically everything excluding muscle meat from the butchered animal.

Whether you try a classic such as liver and bacon, dare a bite of a devilled kidney – the spicy bean-shaped delight. Or indulge in a warming oxtail or cheeks stew on a winter’s evening.

Are you brave enough to try brawn made from pork heads? Or tripe made from the animal’s stomach? Maybe thymus gland otherwise known as sweetbread or really take the plunge and try testicles or penis – I won’t hold it against you if that’s a step too far.

Perhaps you’ll try eating haggis like the Scots, chopped liver like the Jewish or any of the many options of other offal dishes.

For maximum health benefits, liver is the king – start with chicken livers or calves liver for a mild flavor and steer clear of lamb and pork liver at first.

Kidney is the next in line for health benefits – like liver’s queen. Whether it’s beef kidneys in stews or lamb kidney simply cooked in butter – kidney will give you a boost of nutrients your body will thank you for.

That said, most internal organs excluding muscle meats will give you a nutrient punch such as vitamin A, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, and many more. For more about the health benefits of organ meats – check out my post about the health-boosting benefits your body craves.

And, if after all my gentle persuasion still hasn’t convinced you to give offal or organ meats a try, but you want to make the most of the health benefits organ meats have to offer, you can always consider supplements. Check out my organ meat supplement breakdown.

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