Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Dot is starting to grow tired of me coming home with bibbly-bobbly bits. Often hairy and almost inevitably a little whiffy, she points out it's the last thing she wants to put in her mouth when feeling a little liverish*. Of course I couldn't disagree more, so now and again she has to put up with it, and grudgingly admit that it's really pretty nice...

There is a specialist abats counter in our local market where bits abound: I can treat myself with calves' feet, sweetbreads, liver, or go nuts with a full, floppy boned-out head; cows' cheeks, tail or tripe; pigs', well, everything! Good eh? Nose-to-tail stuff I used to only dream about. Some of it is a bit of a challenge, I'll admit, though some is pure luxury, such as onglet, the ribbony, king of steaks with a deep flavour that is a touch liverish** due to its position next to the liver. Why it should be sold as offal at all is a mystery to me. Other equally inoffensive-tasting morsels such as cheek or tail at least sound like they could be unpleasant; onglet is just a nice piece of steak sullied by its surroundings. Historical proximity, it seems, is enough to banish it to the ghetto with it's noisy neighbours. Not that I'm bothered, though I suspect you already know that...

I've been buying sweetbreads recently, and I'll admit I haven't quite got to grips with them yet. Braising them is easy - we do that at work with madeira and mushrooms. Roasting them is a bugger. It's difficult to tell when they're done, and they are so incredibly expensive that I struggle to justify my unsatisfactory tinkering. I know they can be excellent (all caramelised, sweet and interesting), but I think I really need someone to show me how.

Steak and kidney pudding is the plan to sneak in the bobbly bits by the back door(4/6 alliteration word-count ratio!! Yessss!***). Dot might well snipe that my simmering stew stinks of piss(4/8 - cdb). A soupcon - But... But the kidney is veal, a first for me, and it's so good that most of it ends up devilled on toast for a snazzy light dinner, Dot pulls a face but ends up saying 'Yum!' and mopping her plate. Yessss! Back in the game! The next time we have sweetbreads they're going to rock yer socks off!

* TM Fergus Henderson
** Not in the FH sense. It just tastes a bit like liver.
*** Or maybe just a sad, head-shaking 'No'.