We ordered our first side of pork this fall and as part of our ongoing quest to be homesteaders someday, we wanted to do as much of the prepartion ourselves as possible. The pig was sustainably raised on pasture at a family farm about an hour or so from our house. Slaughter day was a week ago last Friday and we drove out to pick up the fresh offal from the butcher.
Evidently they do not get many – if any – requests for the offal and seemed to be surprised anyone would want it, but we wanted to have the whole “nose to tail” experience – well, as close as you can get without raising and slaughtering it yourself. I think there was some confusion at the butcher’s because when we arrived home and opened the box they gave us, we had five livers and five sets of kidneys! Apparently they slaughtered five pigs that day.
We didn’t get any of the other offal – not that I was terribly disappointed, but we were prepared to try it all at least once. We were not however, prepared to have 15 lbs. of liver and five sets of kidneys. Our plan was to prepare the River Cottage Meat Book’s Deviled Kidneys recipe for dinner that evening and then to make a pate with the liver. What are we going to do with all of this offal?
I got online and started researching. We discovered that you really should eat kidney as fresh as possible – it doesn’t keep well and you shouldn’t freeze it. We had the Deviled Kidneys as planned and decided to lightly saute’ the rest of the kidneys whole and freeze them until we could figure out what to do with the rest of them. A little Steak & Kidney Pie perhaps? If they end up not freezing well even cooked, we will just grind them up and feed them to the chickens.
The deviled kidneys turned out pretty good – better than we expected to be perfectly honest. Being our first time cooking and eating kidneys – the texture was a little strange – kind of rubbery – but I think we may have overcooked them a bit. The sauce was heavenly and the toasted bread helped mellow the meat texture. I would definitely eat them again, trying not overcook them the next time.
We moved on to the liver. Each liver weighing in at almost 3lbs, we made a double batch with just one. The rest we put into ziplocks and tossed in the freezer for future use. The pate’s turned out lovely. We followed the recipe from the River Cottage Cook Book for Rich Liver Pate, lining one with alder-smoked bacon (smoked by the butcher as ours will be curing for awhile) and the other with purple sage leaves from the garden. The bacon lined one was more flavorful than the sage one – I think the recipe in general could have used a tiny bit more salt, a few more splashes of port and maybe an additional pinch of mace. The next day I sliced off a healthy slab of the sage one and put it in the food processor along with a little heavy cream, a pinch more mace, salt and cayenne, along with some port I reduced down to a syrup. That did the trick! It was exactly the flavor I was looking for.
The next pig will provide us with the opportunity to try the “hard stuff” – heart, sweetbreads, tongue. But so far I can honestly say “offal – not awful at all”.