5

votes

Which offal to eat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 14, 2010 at 10:30 PM

Which offal should I eat, to maximize nutrition? Currently I eat lambs faces (lots of fat at the back, tongues and the eyes), hearts, liver and blood. I make soups with very marrowy bones, and eat the marrow when it's easy to get at. I don't particularily care for kidneys, though if they are nutritous and should be eaten, I could mix them with other meats.

Is there anything I'm missing? What about brains? Aren't they too risky? I've heard that the thyroid is very good for you and was a prize among hunters. Is it possible to get thyroids at all? What about other glands, like the pancreas? Is there any offal that one shouldn't eat? I've heard that the liver may be too rich in vitamin A and should only be eaten in great moderation. Is that something that rings true?

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on April 24, 2011
at 09:10 PM

eaten raw or lightly cooked, heart has gobs more coq10 than any other muscle meat.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on April 24, 2011
at 09:08 PM

very lucky to live in a country that still practices this way of eating. if you can manage it, learn to eat the WHOLE animal, guts, balls, brains and all, properly butchered and prepared. might have to go learn from the shepherds or elderly in your country, or the ones who are preserving cultural heritage.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 24, 2011
at 07:49 PM

Must... not... downvote...!!

Medium avatar

(7073)

on March 27, 2010
at 06:26 PM

I have his first book, 'nose to tail eating', there are several more trotter recipes in there....thanks for reminder!

D2f68674c2d09d1c63fa3d8628744a6b

on March 27, 2010
at 01:11 PM

If you're into feet (not like that!), there's a series of delicious recipes in Fergus Henderson's "Beyond Nose to Tail" about what he calls 'Trotter Gear,' which is basically a braised pigs trotter in its jelly, and some of the most unctuous, delicious, and nutritious stuff out there. Worth checking out from the library, even if half the book is about pastry.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 07, 2010
at 11:37 PM

LMAO at "Currently I eat lambs faces" and David Csonka's response. Awesome.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 15, 2010
at 07:28 PM

I think you're right about the nutritional content of heart generally. When I had lamb heart I looked up the stats and it seemed to be pretty much a modestly better version of standard muscle meat (modestly tastier but quite similar too,from my experience): http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/lamb-veal-and-game-products/4660/2

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6082)

on February 15, 2010
at 02:25 PM

Come on, I thought that sounded pretty funny to me... heheh

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:09 PM

Thanks for the info and link on the liver. It was very helpful.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:06 PM

Also, thanks for the link to Peter's liver article. It was very helpful.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:05 PM

I agree about the liver and marrow. Just wondering if something else was as awesome.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:05 PM

>I think if you're getting liver and marrow you're probably not missing much of anything, nutrition-wise. That's kind of what I've thought from the paleo blogs I've been frequenting. Also, thanks for the link at Peter's. It was very helpful

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:04 PM

I think if you're getting liver and marrow you're probably not missing much of anything, nutrition-wise.

That's kind of what I've thought from the paleo blogs I've been frequenting.

Also, thanks for the link at Peter's. It was very helpful

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:01 PM

I think if you're getting liver and marrow you're probably not missing much of anything, nutrition-wise." That's kind of what I've thought from the paleo blogs I've been frequenting. Also, thanks for the link at Peter's. It was very helpful.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 12:55 PM

LOL, this is not currently my every day meal, though I'm working on increasing it. However in Iceland, this is traditional fare, so not hard to get at all. Cheap too!

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6082)

on February 14, 2010
at 10:36 PM

Dude, that is hard core. That is all I have to say.

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8 Answers

2
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 15, 2010
at 09:38 AM

I'll second the fact that liver is the best. Kidneys are also an excellent staple, lots of a variety of nutrients; rather like a super-muscle meat, all the same nutrients but lots more of them. Also pretty unobtrusive compared to tripe or some other offals.

I've never seen any nutritional statistics for (thymus) sweetbreads, but would have thought they should contain lots of nutrients. (Have wondered if they'd be a source of iodine). I can't speak for (pancreas) sweetbreads.

On the liver and vitamin A thing. The risks are substantially over-rated. I think the most important thing is your vitamin A to vitamin D balance: more vitamin A requires more vitamin D. Also this is why I go for chicken livers rather than any others, they're about as nutritious but contain relatively less vitamin A. I feel safe having 400g chicken liver around twice a week, but would have some concerns about having lots of other livers that frequently. It's also possible that getting adequate vitamin K2 would be important for vitamin A safety, since it's integral to regulating vitamin A and D. (Lucky then, that liver is a good source of vitamin K2!)

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:09 PM

Thanks for the info and link on the liver. It was very helpful.

2
65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

on February 14, 2010
at 11:48 PM

Eating any of those things sounds offal to me. ;)

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6082)

on February 15, 2010
at 02:25 PM

Come on, I thought that sounded pretty funny to me... heheh

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 24, 2011
at 07:49 PM

Must... not... downvote...!!

2
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on February 14, 2010
at 11:33 PM

My favourite summary of offal is from Pay Now Live Later.

For what it's worth, I think you're already eating the most nutrient dense part - the liver.

1
Medium avatar

(7073)

on March 26, 2010
at 07:47 PM

I would say buy pigs or calf's feet - OK not exactly offal, but here in France they are in the 'abbats' section of the supermarket (think abbatoir) so I say they count as offal.

They can be boiled up to extract their gelatin (and the amino acids proline and glycine) which is very nutritious and has many health benefits. They are not expensive and seem to be overlooked by many as unworthy of consideration, but they would have been utilized by hunter/gatherers, who indeed would not have wasted any part of the animal.

Remember to add vinegar to your pig's/cow's feet broth; this extracts the maximum amount of gelatin from the hooves and makes for a very rich and jelly-like stock, which can be kept in the fridge or frozen and then used in gravies, sauces and soups....

In traditional cultures, liver would have been given to pregnant, nursing and sick individuals (sometimes raw), so I would say don't go mad on the liver, once a fortnight is probably ample - calf's liver tastes the best, but is the most expensive.

Medium avatar

(7073)

on March 27, 2010
at 06:26 PM

I have his first book, 'nose to tail eating', there are several more trotter recipes in there....thanks for reminder!

D2f68674c2d09d1c63fa3d8628744a6b

on March 27, 2010
at 01:11 PM

If you're into feet (not like that!), there's a series of delicious recipes in Fergus Henderson's "Beyond Nose to Tail" about what he calls 'Trotter Gear,' which is basically a braised pigs trotter in its jelly, and some of the most unctuous, delicious, and nutritious stuff out there. Worth checking out from the library, even if half the book is about pastry.

1
60b0d3e60670f645cca59f67710b4820

on February 15, 2010
at 07:02 PM

It's illegal in most of the US to sell the brains of cows, etc., because they are condemned by the USDA inspectors. On the other hand, you can buy fish heads from the supermarket for very cheap, and there's a lot of things you can do with those. You can steam them and eat the eyes and brain intact or boil the heads in a soup.

1
A03de7a7f6df94c7691b037f6224f450

(10)

on February 14, 2010
at 11:31 PM

Liver is fantastic for you. Avoid eating the livers out of polar bears and seals and you shouldn't have to worry about too much vitamin A, although some people can be unlucky with normal farm-animal liver, as Peter @ hyperlipid points out.

"Sweetbreads" are thymus and pancreas glands, and can be delicious. Brains are really tasty but I honestly would only go for this if you trust your butcher or if you knew the animal it came from. (Some people are quite worried about prions and will never touch the stuff.)

I think if you're getting liver and marrow you're probably not missing much of anything, nutrition-wise.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:05 PM

>I think if you're getting liver and marrow you're probably not missing much of anything, nutrition-wise. That's kind of what I've thought from the paleo blogs I've been frequenting. Also, thanks for the link at Peter's. It was very helpful

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:01 PM

I think if you're getting liver and marrow you're probably not missing much of anything, nutrition-wise." That's kind of what I've thought from the paleo blogs I've been frequenting. Also, thanks for the link at Peter's. It was very helpful.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:06 PM

Also, thanks for the link to Peter's liver article. It was very helpful.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:05 PM

I agree about the liver and marrow. Just wondering if something else was as awesome.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on February 15, 2010
at 01:04 PM

I think if you're getting liver and marrow you're probably not missing much of anything, nutrition-wise.

That's kind of what I've thought from the paleo blogs I've been frequenting.

Also, thanks for the link at Peter's. It was very helpful

0
5df4ed4531df0c4eea1182f9ea5b52b6

on April 24, 2011
at 07:03 PM

It may not be just about nutrition in the normal sense of the word. I found my way here because there's research that says Calf Thymus Extract "accelerated regeneration" of the thymus gland in mice treated with it link. Your thymus gland is where T-cells mature. It usually atrophies with age. I don't know if this means that eating thymus sweetbreads directly can do the same thing for humans - and therefore possibly improve immune function in old age - that's what I'm trying to find out.

Rob

0
70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on February 15, 2010
at 06:48 PM

You mentioned lamb heart... Have you tried beef or veal heart? I've recently discovered veal heart, and they are surprisingly delicious if cooked the right way (either briefly like a rare steak, or slow-cooked in a stew for several hours - I much prefer the former). Not sure about any particular nutrition benefits of heart versus other meat or offal, but I would venture that since it's a muscle it would probably have a similar composition to (lean) muscle meat such as steak. With the bonus of being considerably cheaper, however. Worth trying.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 15, 2010
at 07:28 PM

I think you're right about the nutritional content of heart generally. When I had lamb heart I looked up the stats and it seemed to be pretty much a modestly better version of standard muscle meat (modestly tastier but quite similar too,from my experience): http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/lamb-veal-and-game-products/4660/2

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on April 24, 2011
at 09:10 PM

eaten raw or lightly cooked, heart has gobs more coq10 than any other muscle meat.

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