I’ve heard quite a few excuses for why people don’t eat offal. Some that make a little sense, to the downright ridiculous. A couple of my favourites are “I can’t eat anything with a face!” and “It smells awful!”
I kinda get the no face thing. I mean, a duck or fish head staring you down while you nibble on it could be a little confronting. But, don’t you think it’s a little odd to be happily gnashing away on a leg of something only if it can’t look at you? Interesting logic!
As for “It smells awful!” Well … you’ve had shit offal. Any meat that smells bad raw shouldn’t be eaten cooked either. Get yourself some fresh stuff, not that cheap crap nan used to hide in her steak and kidney pies (yep, that’s aimed at you mum!).
I’d love to hear your reasons for why you’re hesitant to eat offal!
BEST OF THE BEAST
The Northern Git in Thornbury plays host once, or twice a year to an 8-10 course British feast of offal dishes. I have been to more than a few of these, even writing one up this time three years ago.
The event gets a bit cray cray when it hosts the event for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, exceeding more than 120 people for this week’s 10 course feast. It was 10 courses, 5 rounds, 2 dishes per round. One prime cut and one offal. With a numbered vote for your fave each time.
Nights like Primal vs Prime Cuts at the Git are a great way to dabble in eating the organ meats without being fully fledged ‘offalicianados’. ;P
The TL:DR version is that offal wins. It won by a landslide. It won last time too, but not by as much. These are my standouts from the evening, I hope I can impart some of the flavour and texture sensations on you in the only way I know (mostly with profanity and /or strange references).
ROUND 1 – RABBIT LIVER PARFAIT vs. RABBIT CROQUETTES
Head Chef Michael Slade will freely admit that they cocked up the croquettes pretty badly. They tasted nice but unfortunately started to disintegrate upon entry to the fryer, leading to a last minute pan pry up of semi-limpness.
This opened the door for the liver parfait to come out swinging. I really like liver … I don’t mean in an “i’ll order it if I have to” kind of way. I want to have it frequently in my life. Some people would say we are going steady. These parfaits … oh lawdy! They were like a punch in the face with one bite! Creamy, rich, smoky and delightfully crispy.
I could have eaten an entire plate of them and ordered some of them to take away and enjoy privately.
ROUND 2 – BEEF BONE MARROW vs. STEAK TARTARE
This entire course was built around sensation. Steak Tartare so fresh, pickly, juicy and tender you could eat it by the spoonful. Spoon onto the Beef Tendon crisps (slightly in the offal category itself) and you have a textural beefy mouthgasm.
Similarly for the Bone Marrow. When spooned heartily onto slices of baked foccacia and spattered with salt, it was like biting into a velvety yet crunchy slice of meat-cream, with the delightful side affect of beefy lip gloss.
If you haven’t tried marrow bones (and don’t have a cholesterol problem) they are pretty inexpensive from a market butcher. Just a cook up in the oven till they are bubbling and no longer congealed fat and you have yourself the world’s best brawny butter!
It may sound like the marrow was the winner here, but marrow is really just a conduit for tastes that you put with it. Though visually distinctive, the marrow really didn’t have the flavour sensation to match the tartare and as a dish on it’s own the tartare came up trumps for this round
ROUND 3 – CALF’S LIVER vs. VEAL
It’s pretty dark in the Git. I couldn’t get a great photo of either of these dishes. The Veal was a little dry and really needed the sauce and some salt to liven it up. So full props went to the Calf Liver, which I’ve never had before, and you know how I feel about liver. The entire table agreed.
On a side note, veal does make me feel a little funny. I think I’ll have to write about that another time as I know it’s oft referred to as “politically incorrect meat.”
ROUND 4 – ROASTED PIGS HEAD vs. GLAZED HAM
It’s almost like they wanted offal to win. I mean, I love ham, but COME ON, an entire face made of pork crackling!?!? Ham didn’t stand a chance.
We were lucky enough to get some roasted tongue in the underside of our piggy. Which was an awesome little surprise package of dense roast porky-ness. That cheek, oh my god … seriously pigs have the tastiest, fattiest cheeks. I’ve waxed on about them before here, but it’s such a sweet and juicy meat that when roasted and salted pretty much turns into meat-crack. Can’t get enough.
The ham was delicious, light, smoky, juicy and fresh. The parsley sauce was an excellent taste opener … It reminded me of Xmas with the family. Possibly another reason the head won.
I will admit that by this stage, room for more food was becoming scarce, and I wore my fat skirt!
ROUND 5 – HAGGIS vs. POT ROASTED LAMB
This round was a case of solid over spectacle for me. Haggis is visually stimulating and to some, visually sickening. It’s a balloon of strongly scented sheeps ‘pluck’ (heart, lungs and liver) mixed with onions, spices and other fillers, stuffed into a stomach (usually also sheep). You then split the Haggis, pour in a whiskey and serve (in this case) with mash and gravy.
Content Warning: Graphic Description: I am going to have to get a little personal. I once had a bad experience with an Haggis. It involved way too many bottles of wine, haggis and a lot of haggisy vomit on the inside of my (now ex’s) car door. I haven’t really been able to enjoy one since.
I gave it a red hot go, but the Haggis was quite mincey, and even though I love whiskey I just couldn’t get into it. Perhaps timing it towards the start of the night would work well for a dish like this, since our tastebuds and nasal passages had already been assaulted head on so many times it was quite overwhelming. Or maybe I just need to accept I don’t like Haggis.
The Lamb Pot Roast was the winner for me. A good old, sturdy pot roast, kinda like my nan would make out of what she had left in the cupboard. Beautifully fragranced with sage and oregano and SO tender it fell apart off the fork. A really lovely comfort dish.
By this stage we were extremely full, of food and booze.
BUT THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR DESSERT!
I quite literally had a sigh of disappointment when we were served up with After Dinner Mints and Ferrero Rochers. Dessert on Offal Night at the Git is has traditionally included some hidden offal. At first glance this was a simple after meal refreshment to accompany with some coffee or digestive.
Oh how naive of me.
Brains. The after dinner mint was MINTY BRAINS!!! The inside of the rocher was chicken livers. I swear, the mint tasted like mint, had the texture of it and there is no way anyone would have known otherwise. Those sneaky buggers!
The Rocher was a bit on the “meatier” side. It had a depth to it that you can’t get from chocolate alone, lending us to think either kidney or liver. And yes! It was freaking delicious.
Well played sir.
So that’s it for my latest adventure into Offal town. Let’s hope this is the start of a fun filled year of food flavour and discovery.
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