Friday, April 11, 2008

Just Offal

Where to start? Offal (les abats) is a classification of organ meats and are organized by abats blanc (white organs) such as sweetbreads, bone marrow, brains, tripe, testicles, head, feet and abats rouge (red organs) heart, kidney, liver, and tongue.

Our recipes for the night: Ris de Veau, Petits Pois Paysans (Braised Sweetbreads with Country-Style Peas), Foie de Veau à la Lyonnaise (Sautéed Calf’s Liver with Caramelized Onions), and Langue d’Agneau, Sauce Piquante (Lamb Tongue with Spicy Sauce).

Sweetbreads are the thymus glands of veal, pork, young beef or lamb and I believe are a required taste. We tackled this recipe by first sautéing the sweetbreads then the mirepoix in the same sautoir. We created a braising liquid by deglazing the pan with white wine and port wine and reduced this slightly. We added veal demi-glace (any stock reduced by half is a demi-glace) covered and put into a 325 degree oven. In the meantime we made our country-style vegetables consisting of peas, carrots, turnips, pearl onions, and a chiffonade of Boston lettuce.

The outcome? My partner Stephanie and I are open to trying everything, we both share a love affair with food. I can’t remember the last time I had sweetbreads, I’m sure I’ve had them before I just can’t remember – anyway, Steph and I both had a bite at the same time. The sautéed sweetbreads had a nice flavor upon first bite, then upon chewing it became most unpleasant! Simultaneously, our expressions changed from interesting to horrified. We both ran to grab paper towels to politely spit out the rest. Ah, we had a good laugh after chugging some water – you can’t say we didn’t try!

Our tongues braised in court bouillon – doesn’t that sound effusive! Perhaps it could be the title of my culinary memoirs – anyway, I was referring to our lamb tongues. The court bouillon softens the tough meat. We prepared a Sauce Piquante made of shallots, course peppercorns, red wine vinegar, tomatoes, stock, white wine and herbs. The sauce was made by combining the above ingredients then strained and tested for seasoning – it had a bite of pepper and a nice acidity. The tongue was sliced very thin and delicately mounded on the plate with the sauce napped over it. Finished with herbs, Chef said this would be an appropriate first course. The tongue was tasty, meaty, and the sauce gave it punch.
Lastly, the liver was prepped and sliced. Chef hauled out this huge pinkish, red calf’s liver – it was enormous! He removed the transparent skin and sliced very thin slices for us to make our dish. Simply sautéed in oil and butter, the liver was served with a sauce of caramelized onions that had a kick of vinegar. Of all the dishes that night, this was my “favorite” and the most palatable dish, as for the others we prepared - they were just offal.

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