Eating better

By | Offal | 4 Comments
In the summer I was sent this book. I was very busy so I have only just managed to have a good look at it. Thanks to the content of my books I’ve done many interviews with paleo diet followers. I am not an advocate, dairy and grains play an important role in my diet. However, I do applaud any book that encourages people to eat pastured meat and quality animal fat as this book does. It covers almost every part of the pig, from its fat, chitterlings and there is even a meatloaf-style headcheese. The approach is a straight forward and informative making this book an excellent source for the novice cook.
I was disappointed to discover that the authors perpetuate the myth that the pancreas is a sweetbread, it is NOT. The pancreas is a pancreas. The sweetbreads, there are two, are the thymus glands located in the neck and above the heart in young animals and only in young animals.
This book encourages people to cook and think about what they are eating and that is good, well done Stacy and Mathew. For those of you interested in the paleo diet check out their website.


Tripe Truck

By | Offal, Paris, tripe | 2 Comments
I was excited when I learnt that the Tripe Truck would be in my Paris neighbourhood in November. It was scheduled to be at Montparnasse twice in the same week: Monday and Wednesday. Monday arrived and I jumped on the 58 bus and headed to the station. I walked around and around the square in front of the station – no tripe truck.
Major disappointment. However, perhaps I’d made a mistake. Why would they come twice to my part of town? After all they didn’t know I lived there.  On Wednesday I set off again and again no tripe truck. I was not only disappointed, I was annoyed. I fired off a couple of angry Tweets implying that the French were hopeless at organizing anything. On Thursday I left for Zurich, more about that soon, and forgot all about the Tripe Truck. The following Wednesday by chance I  happened to be at Montparnasse and low and behold there was the shiny blue Tripe Truck.  I’d made a mistake with the dates. If I’d bothered to check my calendar where I had marked the passage of the Tripe Truck before I left for Paris I’d have realised my mistake the week before. So I now officially withdraw all my negative comments about the French, but just those concerning the Tripe Truck.
The truck was, in reality, a fancy Airstream caravan, or as I learnt a “travel trailer”. The advertised tripe burgers were indeed gratuit (free), but they didn’t contain any tripe. I’d imagined  pieces of cow’s stomach breaded and fried in a bun. Instead, the mini burger buns were filled with slices tongue, liver or cheek, garnished with beetroot, radish and mayonnaise. Not really a burger, but tasty nonetheless.
Every city should have a tripe truck to introduce people to offal. If it’s free people will try it. Imagine  fried testicles, braised tripe, breadcrumbed brains, sautéed heart, and liver, cheek and tongue in a bun with toppings. I bet we’d convert the populace to nose to tail eating.

Odd Bits Sizzler

By | Group of 7 Chefs, Offal | 6 Comments

Here is a sizzler reel introducing the Odd Bits pilot that was filmed in Toronto this summer.
 Please take a look and let me know what you think either here or, even better add your comment to Youtube and perhaps we might get the chance to make more episodes. And if you have 20 minutes free  you might want to watch the entire pilot here.


By | Offal, Paris | 12 Comments
I love being in Paris for lots of reasons, one of them being the ready availability of offal. In my local market we spied sweetbreads, ris de veau in French. I would like to bust several myths concerning sweetbreads –
 #1 sweetbreads are testicles – they are not. Testicles are testicles. I just read on a blog this week that sweetbreads is another term in English for testicles, it is not! Sweetbread is an old term from the sixteenth century, “sweet” refers to the this odd bits’s prized status and bread comes from the Old English word broed meaning flesh.
#2 sweetbreads include the pancreas – they do not. Unfortunately, in North America the pancreas is often sold as a sweetbread, even by butchers who should know better.
Sweetbreads are the thymus gland which consists of two parts, the throat sweetbread and the heart sweetbread. They are only found in young animals as the animal ages the thymus gland atrophies, which explains why sweetbreads are in short supply and expensive.
The sweetbreads in my market were the desirable veal heart sweetbreads, bigger and more compact.
The first step is to soak the sweetbread in cold salted water. Then poach it in a court bouillon, a fancy name for a liquid flavoured with vegetables, herbs and spices, see Odd Bits. This takes about 5 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the sweetbread. Test by pressing with your finger tip, they should be firm but still springy. You can see that the sweetbread becomes more compact. Slide the sweetbread into ice water to stop the cooking. When it is just cool enough to handle, remove any fat, gristle and as much of the membrane as you can.
Place the sweetbread in a pie dish lined with a clean towel, fold the cloth over the sweetbread and place another pie plate on top. Add a weight to lightly press the sweetbread and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours to firm up. Normally my sweetbread would fall into small pieces as I usually only find the throat ones in Toronto. The heart sweetbread stays intact so I decided to sauté it whole. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, browned it gently in butter turning and basting until it had a good colour, but was still springy, about 12 minutes.

You could add a sauce, but when the sweetbread is this good it needs nothing else at all.