A beginner’s guide to eating Nose to Tail
Embracing Nose to Tail eating can be daunting with so many different organs on offer.
Heart, liver, brains, tripe, tongue… how do you choose what to start with, and how do you know how to cook it?
An important thing to know is that offal deteriorates much faster than muscle meat like steak, so to make sure it is as fresh as possible, eat it on the day that you buy it. You can find pre-packaged offal in the meat aisle in the supermarket, ask for it from your local butcher or visit your nearest Mad Butcher store. You can freeze offal for up to three months.
Are you up for the challenge? Here are six ways you can ease yourself into the world of offal.
If in doubt, eat out
If you’re not sure you will like the taste of offal or have had a bad experience eating it in the past, then let an expert do the hard stuff. Offal can often be found on many menus and ordering offal in a restaurant is a great place to get your first introduction – it will be cooked to perfection and paired with flavours that will really complement the dish so you will quickly know whether you want to attempt it at home. Or if you have a friend or family member who is famous for a particular offal dish, ask them to teach you.
Nose to Tail advocate MacLean Fraser suggests starting with pâté. Although pâté is made from livers, it is delicious and smooth, like a spread, so it doesn’t look like offal. This is a great way to get the family on board – if you don’t tell them it’s offal they will never know. You can purchase an inexpensive pâté from the supermarket, or if you are game, make your own chicken pâté.
If pâté isn’t your thing, try tucking into a steak and kidney pie, you won’t even notice the kidneys are there!
Mix it with mince
Another way to add offal to your diet is to mix it with mince. Adding a small amount of ground offal to mince is a good place to start because it is easily disguised.
Try making a mix of 20-30% ground offal to 70% beef mince. Season the mixture and then turn it into burgers, meatballs or meatloaf. Liver, kidney, tongue and heart work well with beef mince, and will greatly increase its nutritious value. If you don’t have a meat grinder, finely chop the offal.
If you’re a fish eater, start by eating different parts of the fish that you might usually chuck away, like the heads or the frames. Whilst often discarded, these parts of the fish are the most flavourful because the meat is close to the bone.
If you would like to get your hands on some free fish heads or want to know how to cook them, click here.
Some supermarkets also sell fish and salmon frames cheaply which still have flesh attached. It is easy to poach this fish and then use the flesh to make things like fish cakes or salmon and red capsicum dip.
Disguise it – crumb and fry it!
Who doesn’t like something that’s deep fried? Not all offal is suitable for frying, but one thing that works really well is lambs brains.
Try MacLean Fraser’s recipe for brains popcorn with chilli mayo – it’s crispy and crunchy on the outside but smooth and creamy on the inside.
Try and try again
Our top tip for trying offal is just to give it ago. You may hate it, or you may find that you do, in fact, love it. Just as individual cuts of meat taste different, each type of offal is different. Be prepared to experiment to work out what you like. Twenty years ago you never saw pork belly or beef cheeks on a mainstream menu, yet these days they are hugely popular. You never know what will be next!