Offal offers nourishing bang for buck but does it still have a place on our tables?

Ox tongue, kidneys, liver, tripe and trotters were popular during the Great Depression and world wars, but will offal make a comeback in the pandemic recession?

Generations who grew up with the cheapest cuts, the viscera and entrails euphemistically called offal, are nostalgic for it.

While it might be new for some, Rose from Mackay told ABC Radio Brisbane, growing up in a family of 13, offal was all she knew.

Rose was among dozens of listeners to share their memories and offal recipes.

“If you gave it to kids nowadays, they’d probably look at you strange.”

Chef and broadcaster Paul West cooked up plenty of offal while hosting the lifestyle series River Cottage Australia.(Supplied: ITV Studios Australia)

ABC Broadcaster and former host of River Cottage Australia Paul West was no stranger to cooking with offal and said it was worth trying.

“I think a good introduction would be either beef heart or beef tongue.”

Is offal an overlooked ‘superfood’?

Mr West said for any omnivore interested in wellness or getting more bang for their buck — offal ticked a lot of boxes.

“They’re a real — I hate to use the term — superfood.”

Mr West said older generations and migrant communities still valued offal as part of a nourishing food tradition.

“It wasn’t something that you just ate for pleasure, it was something that was going to keep you well.”

A man stands, armed folded and smiling, in front of a counter inside a butcher.
Mr Herman says while he does not sell a lot of offal, he always has some in stock.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Edwina Seselja)

But Brisbane butcher Pete Herman said even during the economic turndown caused by the pandemic, price is not everything to consumers.

“It’s my belief that you have to enjoy what you’re eating,” he said.

“You don’t buy it just because it’s cheap.”

“It’s not’s very appealing, I must admit.”

Offal has an image problem

Ian Jarratt, OAM is an executive member of the Australian Consumers Federation and oversees the Queensland Consumers Association.

He had fond memories of his mum’s steak and kidney pie and said offal often got a bad wrap.

“Vegetarians and vegans have the same attitudes to meat that meat eaters have towards offal,” he said.

He said perceptions around eating offal seemed to vary depending on how it was processed.

Where can you find it?

While you may not find it packaged up nicely alongside other meats at the supermarkets, you might have better luck at the local butcher.

Mr Herman said while he did not sell a lot of offal, he always kept some stocked.

Mr West said he usually only ate offal when he was involved in processing the animal.

A recipe book lies open on a table showing a recipe for barbequed chicken feet.
Mr West says wasting an part of animal you’ve raised feels “sacrilegious”.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Edwina Seselja)

“When you do a farm kill you get the whole animal — you get every single cut of meat and all the weird bits in between.”

“You’ve put so much into the caring and raising of that animal that it would be sacrilegious, really, to see any of that go to waste.”

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