Monday, 4 November 2019

November is Offal Month in France

Offal is considered a delicacy in France. You can always buy a certain amount but in November it is particularly noticeable in the butchers' windows. The calves born in the summer will be slaughtered at 20 weeks and there will be a sudden, short lived glut of testicles, sweetbreads, heads and hearts.

Andouillette, a pungent sausage made of pigs intestines.

Veal testicles (known euphemistically in French as rognons blanc or 'white kidneys') 
and fraise de veau (an obscure part of the intestine known as calf's ruffle in English).

Calf's ruffle, tripe and têtes de veaux (calves heads, boned,with the skin rolled
around the tongue and cheek meat) at the front, brains just above on the far left.

Veal sweetbreads (ris de veau).
Calf thymus glands from the neck, and pancreas from near the stomach.
The price ticket shows Label Rouge certification which ensures high standards of animal welfare, and specifically notes that the calf was raised with its mother.

Chicken gizzards (gésiers).

My local specialist offal butcher, who I buy from regularly at Loches market.

My offal butcher is always happy to offer cooking advice and information about each of the products he sells. For example, when I was dithering about which sort of liver to buy he commented that veal liver, which is twice the price of lamb, pork or yearling beef, is also sweeter than the others and therefore not to everyone's taste. He's given me a number of really delicious sounding recipes, including:

Pork Cheek Crumble with Parmesan
Lamb Liver, Heart and Kidney Kebabs
Grilled Skirt Steak with Sautéed Artichoke Hearts
Crispy Tripe on a Bed of Baby Salad Leaf
Crispy Honeyed Veal Sweetbreads with Preserved Lemon Zest
Fried Veal Heart with Ginger and Basil
Italian Style Beef Tongue
Calf's Head Filled Vegetable Spring Rolls
Indian Style Crumbed Beef Kidneys
Creamy Veal Sweetbreads and Linguine with Mushrooms
Thai Style Lambs Liver
Crunchy Mediterranean Style Pork Cheek
Slow Cooked Pork Cheek with Mint
Lambs Kidney Kebabs
Spiced Tripe with Prunes
Beef Skirt with Pesto and Baby Salad Leaves
Veal Brains in Lemon Butter
Fried Veal Heart with Ginger

Which one do your reckon I should start with?


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Colin and Elizabeth said...

Andouillette, we tried them once NEVER again, an acquired taste to say the least!! We were always surprised how expensive offal is in France compared to the UK, supply and demand I suppose. You need to put Liver and onions on your list. Basic but tasty if done right! C

Susan said...

Yes, andouillette is not my thing either. I would say even about 50% of French people don't like it. Offal is relatively expensive because it's limited and people want it; but also because of nose to tail eating, which means that other cuts that would be considered prime in anglo cultures are relatively cheaper. Simon is keen that I try the crispy tripe on a bed of salad leaves, btw...(ahem...or perhaps I misunderstood...) :-) Liver and onions is one of our favourites.

chm said...

It's hard to make a choice in this list, because all these recipes sound delicious. Personnaly, I'd try first the sweet bread which is one of my favorite. Lamb or veal kidneys would come second.

Believe it or not, I used to find sweetbread, veal or lamb liver, veal or lamb kidneys here in my grocery store in Virginia. Not any more. I'm glad I enjoyed these products while they were available. Americans need to be educated about good food.

Carolyn said...

I would start with the least-gussied-up recipe that lets you taste the meat itself.

This list is timely, since I'm figuring out what to cook in a gite kitchen on our next trip. Gesiers and ris de veau were already on the list. I don't trust any types of liver in the US anymore and we used to love calves' liver with red wine, also spaghetti al Caruso with chicken livers, so this is a reminder to cook those.

Cooking andouillette is probably a violation of the gite rules but we've eaten it where we trust the chef (lucky twice so far).

Please let us know what you try and what you two like.

Susan said...

Sweetbreads are something I'll eat in a restaurant but not cook for myself. I love lambs kidneys, and made the kebabs.

Susan said...

The offal butcher doesn't sell chicken livers or gesiers. I get them from my local poultry producer (that's what the photo is of). He goes to Loches, but also, very handily, to Preuilly market. I made the slow cooked pork cheek and that was very good. Also the Thai style liver, which was fine, although one has liver infrequently enough that I'd just stick to our old favourite, which is with onions and bacon in red wine. I've got some veal liver, chicken livers and a huge ox tongue in the freezer which I must use up. We are thinking that Goan style would be fun for the ox tongue (a recipe Simon found on the internet).

Le Pré de la Forge said...

A collection of offaly random thoughts.....
We both love andouillette, and andouille....
after all, both are just chitterlings in a skin.
Grill until the skin is nice and golden... or oven bake if andouille.
My least favourite is the sausage where the intestines are threaded back and forth... the result, because it is a sausage that is cooked and served thin sliced, is rather like rubber bands!
My favourite tripe recipe is proper British tripe and onions...
but Pauline, sadly, can't stand tripe in any form!!
Gesiers is another joint favourite...
gesier salad is regular both out and at home.
Liver is a regular here...
my favourite is pigs liver because it has a nutty texture

liver and bacon is a must on cold, damp days... fires the body heater up!
Chicken livers are for rissotto...
Kidneys are wonderful...
lamb are best if you can find them.
Pigs kidneys are a good substitute and easier to find....
but ox kidney is for Steak and kidney puddin'...
Heart is a very good meat indeed... my mother used to get hold of lambs' hearts... haven't seen them for years...
but here we can get pig or oxheart... wonderful slow-cooked in a tomato-rich sauce with button mushrooms....
I grew up with sweetbreads both shallow fried, coated in breadcrumbs.... and cooked in a tomato sauce.
Then there is one thing I haven't had for years... a fish offal...
soft herring roes on toast.
As for other fish offal, most is far tooooo salty for my taste...
taramediddlywozzit from cod is the worst, both salt and mouth feel go "bleerch"...
But offal is offaly good for you.

potty said...

Best Wishes! I can cope with lamb's liver but ALL the rest no thank you. I think it's the texture of the meat as well as the thought, smell and taste. Too old to change now.

Le Pré de la Forge said...

I forgot tongue.... love tongue... especially cold, sliced tongue and salad!!

the fly in the web said...

All sounds good...apart from andouillette. On market day the caffs were busy, all advertisinbg a plat du jour without specifying what it was. If you pushed open the door and were hit by a smell like the drains of Calais in August you knew it was andouillette.
Here I can get beef offal, as people eat tripe, tongue and liver. Pig offal I get at the local unauthorised slaughter house - pig's fry conjuring up memories of Saturday lunch at my grandmother's house - and sheep offal when we kill one of our flock.
That tripe recipe sounds good.
What about pig's heart with orange sauce?

Susan said...

Yes, andouillette is just not nice. I'll be dodging the heart/orange sauce combo as well :-)

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