Organ meat pie. An offal experience

Organ meat pie. An offal experience

This is going pretty out there even for me…someone who enjoys trying just about anything when it comes to food. Here I was, with a bag of various organ meats acquired by accident, from an organic and pasture-raised meat supplier. I wasn’t about to let them go to waste.

I’m all for nose-to-tail eating, and I’m fond of some offal. Liver makes a somewhat regular appearance on our table, particularly lamb liver, which is what I asked for. Lamb liver is mild and tender. It’s much more pleasant than beef liver, and less sinewy than chicken liver. But instead of delivering a pound of lamb liver, I was given two pounds of frozen mixed lamb organs (which I didn’t check until I got home). There was a tongue, 2 kidneys, a very large liver and a heart. Not knowing what I could possibly do with it all, I left it in my freezer for several months while I worked up the nerve.

I’ve tried heart in a fancy restaurant before (heart Carpaccio), but kidneys and tongue are scary—especially the kidneys. I’m well aware of their reputation for a urine-like smell and taste, and I was hesitant to go there. The tongue I could deal with, once I fought off the taste buds with my knife.  Having just watched an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, I decided to go all in–heart, kidney, tongue, liver and even the thick blood pooled in the bottom of the bag. It’s gross, I know, but cheer me on. I’m being brave.

I decided to make an offal (hopefully not awful) meat pie for dinner, based on a steak and kidney pie, but this pie would be steak-free. I had everything I needed to make it easily: carrots, an organic frozen pie crust, beef stock, mushrooms and onions.  Hopefully all of the flavors would mask anything off-putting. I crossed my fingers and went with it.

So how did it go? The pie came out quite pretty, reminding me of story books—with a little bit of Sweeney Todd thrown in. I chopped everything in small pieces and mixed them up, so you really couldn’t tell one meat bit from the other. Well, not true. I could tell one meat bit from the other. The heart was pleasant-tasting with a chewy texture. The tongue was more delicate in texture, with a mild taste. The liver was familiar, with its paté-like texture. The kidneys are what got me.

I made the mistake of trying just a little bit of pan-sauteed kidney before I mixed them in. They were pungent, intensely lamb-flavored, with an unmistakably musty urine taste (and smell). The texture was like a cooked mushroom—mushy. My husband didn’t mind them a bit in the pie, but once I picked up on the flavor, I could distinguish even the tiniest bit of chopped-up kidney. I’m not a fan. That said, I did enjoy eating the pie for dinner, despite my distinct awareness of the kidney. I would try them again, too. Perhaps in more experienced hands.

Since this was just an experiment, I will not be including the offal pie recipe in this post. Unless I get a bunch of requests, which I highly doubt will happen!

-Marni

Organ meat pie. An offal experience

Organ meat pie. An offal experience

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