Organ meats or offal have had a revival of late and we wanted to discuss their place on your table. Whether you love them or curl your nose at them, we want you to take another look and consider incorporating them in your next meat delivery.
What is Offal?
Offal is also known as pluck, variety, and organ meats. The word usually refers to the visceral or internal organs, though it does include pretty much everything apart from the muscles and bone of a butchered animal. There are some different words for offal ‘Lights’ are the lungs, ‘fries’ are the testicles, ‘sweetbreads’ refers to the thymus or maybe the pancreas, and ‘chitterlings’ are the pigs’ small intestines.
Some cultures discourage eating offal, and may even ban it, whilst in other cultures, it is an accepted part of the daily diet.
‘Foie Gras’ or duck liver pate is a recognised French delicacy, that is also offal. In Scotland, Haggis is a national dish. Here in our beloved Yorkshire, we still enjoy Tripe or cow reticulum. ‘Elder’ or udder is another northern regional treat, now rarely seen. Sausage skins were historically made from the intestines. Many cultures enjoy Pigs Trotters as a treat. Eating “umble pie” or humble pie, made from the organ meats was a peasant food and where we get the expression from. The West Country is famous for its Faggots, a mixture of minced pig offal and off-cuts covered in caul fat, the fat found around the organs. I bet you thought they were just minced meat!
Of course, many of us still have steak and kidney pies and Liver in onion gravy. I find that a full English breakfast is a little bereft without a black pudding gracing the plate. Crackling or pork scratchings made from the pigs’ skin, we enjoy either with a pork roast or in the pub with a pint. Among the delicatessen offerings, we find ox tongue for your picnic sandwiches.
So, you are probably eating and savouring offal without realising it!
Nutritional Benefits of organ meats
Organ meats are far more nutrient-dense than the muscle of the animal. If you like watching nature programmes, notice how the hyenas and carnivores fight to eat the entrails of their prey before the meat. The organs are a prized resource of extra vitamins, iron and protein. Choline has been in the news of late, as a nation, we are lacking a little in it. Organ meats are one of the best sources. You will also get heme iron, vitamins A, B6, B12, Riboflavin, Zinc, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium in organ meats. Liver as a single food itself is hard to beat and trumps everything else in a ‘top trumps’ game
Reasons not to eat Offal or Organ Meats
People who suffer from Gout should be wary of eating offal. It is high in purines, which increase uric acid in the body. This can aggravate gout. Pregnant women need to be careful of their Vitamin A intake, as high levels can cause birth defects.
A word on BSE
There was a link between Bovine Spongiform encephalitis (BSE) or ‘Mad cow disease’ infected cattle and new variant Creutzfeldz Jacob Disease (vCJD) in humans. This link has been broken by the new stringent cattle feeding regimes. Since 1996 a ban made it illegal to feed cattle and other livestock any meat. As you know most of our beef is grass-fed, you can read more here. Avoiding eating the brains or spinal cord will completely remove the risk too.
Finally, time to change your mind
In a lot of cultures, it is considered a little disrespectful to not eat or use as much of the whole animal as possible. The organs are often thrown away, or given to pet food manufacturers. They are cheap, tasty, a ready source of vital nutrients and easy to prepare and cook. They keep you feeling fuller for longer and so may aid weight loss. Plus, there is a retention of muscle mass due to the higher protein content. Is there any real reason not to rediscover organ meats for yourself? Why not add them to your next order and try them? Even if they are not for you, the dog will be very happy to eat them.