Blood ‘n’ guts. It’s not quite what you’d expect on a restaurant menu, but eating offal is really a return to ancient culinary ways of consuming meat, whereby no part of the animal is wasted. Offal includes entrails like tripe and intestine, organs such as the heart, lungs and brain, plus “bits” like tails, feet, head and blood.
A list like this may sound unappetizing, but today’s chefs are taking offal to new levels, creating delicious dishes that unapologetically feature the stuff. Butchers and chefs around the globe have been using offal for centuries. But in Western culture, it’s often hidden in sausage or pate where everything is ground up into a palatable shape and nary a body part can be recognized.
Clearly, eating animal parts is a subjective business. One person’s prime rib is another’s braised brains. So who exactly eats offal? The adventurous foodie who seeks out the offbeat? Sure, but that’s not who offal chefs are catering to—it’s really for folks who understand that it’s all just meat in the end.
San Francisco, Calif.
If any chef can ease one’s fears of trying offal, it’s Chris Cosentino, creator of the website offalgood.com, whose mastery of Italian cuisine has diners eating tuna heart, blood soup and bone marrow without a wince.
Chef de Cuisine Ted Anderson hosts an annual offal multi-course dinner, the Quinto Quarto. “Nothing is wasted in our kitchen, and it’s important to show diners how delicious these less-popular cuts can be,” he says. Try the le due cuore hearts of artichoke and pig served on pane bianca.
Young Chef Daniel Costa serves up Coppa di Testa—a sexier Italian name for headcheese—paired with crostini. Offal is not the focus, but has been served since day one at the 34-seat restaurant. The casual eatery pairs Italian methods with local Alberta and Italian ingredients.