Sunday, March 02, 2008

All Offal, All the Time

All Offal, All the Time
February 29, 2008

Our offal dinner-- the somewhat belated Winter Feast of the series Katie & I have been doing-- was held, somewhat appropriately, on Leap Day. I think I can wait til the next Leap Day (or bissextile day) to do this again. It was rather rushed, labor-intensive, and (at least partially) kinda gross (yes, even I can't handle prolonged exposure to gooey, goopy brains as I pull the membrane and veins out...).

I didn't help that our old meat standby, Verbrugge's, completely let us down. We were supposed to pick up the brains and kidneys the morning of the feast (they should be eaten as fresh as possible). Verbrugge's decided to call us that morning to let us know that they couldn't get them. After some very frantic phone calls, I located frozen kidneys at Andronico's (who knew? they also have hearts, tripe, and sweetbreads), and beef brains (we wanted lamb or calf) at Mi Ranchito Bayside Market (Berkeley). But when I went to buy the brains, it turned out that all they had was a frozen 5-lb tub. A little too much for this party. So, a few more calls later, we located pig brains at 99 Ranch (Richmond) and I went off in search (thanks for the company, J). 99 Ranch is a simply fantastic asian market, but they don't really speak English, so trying to get something specific is pretty difficult (I once tried to get seafood stock. Don't even try. They don't have it.). But eventually I found the pig brains, below the tocino and next to the pig uterus and bung (intestines)-- here's a good post on those products, fyi. They were fresh, not frozen, which was a little worrisome, but they were only $2, so we decided to give them a try. We had, after all, promised brains to our delighted guests.

Unfortunately, our recipe depended on lamb or calf brain-- the kind that stays together-- and this poor piggy brain fell apart as soon as it left the container. So, instead of making nice fried slices, we fried the few clumps I'd managed to clean and had them as pre-dinner snack. They were as good as anything deep-fried is, but the brains themselves didn't have much flavor. We'll try again though-- stay posted.

Thanks to Karen for the dessert and photos and to Ridwan for coming early to help (and cleaning too)!

So, the menu:

Chicken Liver Mousse
with pickled red onions

Deviled Kidneys

Braised Tongue with
Caper, Cornichon, and Caperberry Sauce
Potato-Chard Gratin

Blood Orange Sorbet
with candied peels
and phyllo crisps

Cooking Pictures (view at your own risk):

The Brains

uncooked, uncleaned

uncooked, cleaned

fried up in tasty clumps

The Tongue

looks like a tongue. feels like a tongue.

bubbling away with aromatics
(notice the brand!)

cooked and sliced, soaking up sauce

The Gratin

This was so pretty uncooked,
topped with chopped chard stems
in red, orange, and yellow

The Dessert

beautiful blood oranges, and a lime

candying the peels


Maria said...

Wow - an offal odyssey. I'm totally amazed by your commitment ... Everything looks awesome, and your tales of brain-finding are hilarious.
I'm especially interested in the tongue dish, but figure leftovers are not the done thing with this kind of stuff.

purplecook said...

Actually, the tongue was one of the best things, but I gave the leftovers away. I would definitely consider making it again-- it was really easy.

Anonymous said...

mousse, mousse, mousse! boy is it good. i'm so looking forward to the next meal.

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