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Organ Meat - Yay or Nay?

 
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I recently learned to slaughter my own chickens, I even got a poultry licence so I could sell them legally. I'm learning a lot quickly!

One thing that I'm looking to improve on is harvesting organs during the slaughter process. Previously, I had found it too burdensome as I was so focused on getting the rest of the slaughtering process correct. Now that I have more experience I would like to reduce the waste, increase my harvest efficiency, and learn to eat new things. I'm also raising a pig for the first time this year, and would have access to organ meat of a larger animal.

What are the best organs to harvest for nutrition?

What are the easiest organs to harvest?

Are there organs you avoid eating? (I've read that some organs accumulate toxins?)

Thanks Permies!

 
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From a chicken the easiest "organ" is the heart although it doesn't class as an organ meat really, being just a muscle, after the heart would be the gizzard, and then the liver. The liver is only slightly harder because of the gall bladder, many times while pulling all the insides out I've grabbed too hard and ruptured it. BLERGH.
 
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Where I come from the beaks and feet are fried into a crispy snack. Colloquially known as "walkie talkies".  

If you try hard enough nothing ends up as "waste".
 
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On a chicken the heart, liver and gizzard are typically the saved organs.  Some save and use the feet as well.
 
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I think it's totally worth harvesting the above organs. Have you eaten offal before?
 
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AS has been said i use the liver, heart, gizzard, and cavity fat. The feet along with the head are saved as well.

the gizzard requires to be cut open and than cleaned out of whatever was in their, and than you peel the yellow rubber like layer off of the gizzard. In my experience it peels off.

I have seen these items sold in 1 pound packages in butcher stores. To me these are the pieces worth buying!
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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James Landreth wrote:I think it's totally worth harvesting the above organs. Have you eaten offal before?



Hey James,

No, I've not eaten offal before. Closest I've come is making broth with chicken feet.

To honest, I've been making my friends with dogs super happy with the feet. That was the first thing I tried to harvest and it went well. Keeping them properly cooled seemed less imperative because I new I would boil them. I harvested some hearts for my Grandma because she loves them, but haven't eaten them myself.
 
James Landreth
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Ashley Cottonwood wrote:

James Landreth wrote:I think it's totally worth harvesting the above organs. Have you eaten offal before?



Hey James,

No, I've not eaten offal before. Closest I've come is making broth with chicken feet.

To honest, I've been making my friends with dogs super happy with the feet. That was the first thing I tried to harvest and it went well. Keeping them properly cooled seemed less imperative because I new I would boil them. I harvested some hearts for my Grandma because she loves them, but haven't eaten them myself.




I recommend trying chinese and German recipes. I'll try to share some here.


One trick I used to get used to them (heart, liver, lung) was to cook them with mushrooms and pretend it was all just mushrooms. The texture was similar in my opinion
 
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James Landreth wrote:
I recommend trying chinese and German recipes. I'll try to share some here.



There are not only German and Austrian recipes, but probably also traditional recipes from France and Italy. In the country cuisine the nose-to-tail principle was mandatory and not just a fashion.
Regarding pigs (and cows) there are recipes for snout, brain, head, feet, liver, kidney, heart, lungs, tail, udder, spleen, tripes, stomach...

When I grew up, I only ate liver and a sausage made with spleen (which I did not like at all). My kids only eat heart when my Peruvian neighbours prepare it.

What I find interesting, apart from the ethical aspect of valuing the whole animal, is that offals contain vitamins like A and B12 and if I remember correctly, also Omega 3 fatty acids.
That explains why populations far away from the sea and with no access to a Meditarranean diet could live healthily because they got their nutrients from other sources like offals.

Looking forward to some interesting recipes!
My neighbour sometimes gets venison liver from a hunter (it is not so easy and cheap to get the licence here), and it is very tasty.
 
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Gizzards are pretty commonly eaten here, usually cooked in pressure til they are almost falling apart in a tomato and onion sauce, they're delish.
Brazilian barbecue is not complete without chicken hearts on a skewer. I like to marinate them in beer and salt but I think many people just grill them as is.
I also really like chicken liver grilled up Japanese style with a soy glaze.

As a dog owner, I would love to have access to organic (or non-commercial) chicken organs, carcasses, necks, backs etc. that come from a good source. I wonder if that could be a sales avenue for you?
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Tereza Okava wrote:As a dog owner, I would love to have access to organic (or non-commercial) chicken organs, carcasses, necks, backs etc. that come from a good source. I wonder if that could be a sales avenue for you?



It's kind of a grey area... I think I could still get in trouble with the health inspectors here.
 
Tereza Okava
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ah rats. It is amazing (appalling) how complicated this stuff is.
 
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I've tried and tried to incorporate more organ meat into stuff but I just don't like it.  Even heart, which is a muscle.  To me they just taste the way gutting an animal smells and it's a bad association.

What I do eat, personally, from birds are the gizzards.  Remove the gizzard and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  This will make it easier to clean.  Then slice open one side of it, carefully work down through the muscle until you encounter the white/yellow inner membrane within.  Try not to cut into the membrane.  This is the actual stomach pouch.  The gizzard flexes and grinds food and rocks together, like chewing.  This is why chickens eat small rocks, to keep their gizzard stocked with good food grinding material.  Anyway, this membrane usually has small stones and grasses and foodstuffs in it, plus some digestive enzymes, so best not to cut it wide open and make a mess.  Once you've cut down to the membrane, finish cutting the gizzard open along one half of its circumference, open it like a book and peel out the membrane in one piece if you can.  This is MUCH easier to do after the gizzard has rested for a bit.
I add the gizzard to my ground poultry meats and detect no flavor change.  Whereas when I slip in small amounts of organ meat into my ground meats, I can definitely tell when I take a bite and there was a smidge of liver in that bite >_>

As for organs you can save for others stuff, like dogs and cats and pigs- everything!  Lungs, hearts, and liver are great.  The kidneys can't really be taken out in one piece, they're hidden up in the pelvis/backbone beneath some really tough tendons, and you usually break the kidney apart trying to break through those tendons.  Our meat-eaters will eat rooster capons, too, which are found up beneath the ribs.  But generally I just gut the bird and throw the whole pile  + neck and head to them and they munch it to oblivion.  
 
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I recognize the value of organ meats but I just have trouble "stomaching" them.
To me,  sausage was created so people like me could enjoy things such things.
Here in Cincinnati,  we eat Goetta, a pin oats and meat breakfast "sausage .
Goetta is made with nice cuts of meat these days,  but originally,  it stretched out whatever scrap meat you had.
It's a German American  thing,  but just like our  chili (inspired by Greek spaghetti sauce), it's very hyper local.

My sister loves chicken gizzards and livers, we say she's a throwback to my grandma, who grew up catching, killing,  plucking  and butchering chickens, and loved, loved,  loved,  a pot of chicken feet.
That same sister (a chef) makes killer gravy,  using bits of poultry that she assures me I don't want know about.
I take her at her word,  and eat up!

 
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I ate chicken lungs once when I was in Kosovo.  They were a street food -- grilled and served hot in a little paper cone.

Nasty.  I wanted to die -- but I politely ate about 3 of them before finding someone to hand the rest of them to.  They tasted like everything I don't like about liver or kidney (if you've had kidney) --- that grey taste.

So put me in the "nay" column.
 
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For the chicken: I am not a huge fan of chicken offal, but if you mince it fine enough, it goes in a casserole well enough. I find chicken heart too chewy, even when stewed. Liver pate is good.

For the pig: Liver pate (basically run pork fat and liver through a meat grinder 3 times to combine, then mix in spices and milk),  liver sausage, blood sausage. All traditional foods I was raised to think of as special treats, yum. Head cheese too (less a fan). Lard as a healthy alternative to butter. Lard on bread with chopped onions or garlic is very yummy.
 
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Jay's Chicken (or Duck) Liver Pate

1-2 chicken livers and hearts chopped finely
2-4 mushrooms chopped (depending on size)
either: ~1 cup of green onions (I use walking onions) or ~1/2 cup of cooking onion microwaved to soften, both chopped finely
2-3 garlic cloves finely grated
1 egg
~1 Tbsp wine vinegar
~2 Tbsp mayonnaise - if needed for the texture

Put the livers, mushrooms and onion in the fry-pan and cook. Add the garlic when 1/2 done. Add the egg and scramble it when meat is essentially cooked. Download pan into whatever you're going to use to puree it (blender, food processor, hand blender bowl). Pour the vinegar into the pan and spatula it around to clean the pan and reduce it. Add the results to the liver mix. Add the mayo and whizz it. If things seem dry while preparing it, you can add extra of either the vinegar or mayo as you go. Walking onion seems moister than cooking onion, and the type and kind of mushrooms affect it also. It's one of those dishes one has to judge as one goes.
 
James Landreth
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One of my favorites is this. A friend makes a variation that is slightly sweet and spicy:


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuqi_feipian
 
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I absolutely love organ meat. Maybe that sounds macabre.. oops.
Fun fact- Organ meats are nutrient powerhouses. I don't mean like kale and spirulina and other fad foods. I mean like elixir of life type foods. Organ meats from all animals boast concentrated levels of B vitamins, minerals like zinc and manganese, iodine, copper, selenium, plus fat soluble vitamins. (They have some of the highest vitamin D levels of all foods!)

Most cultural recipes do them the best justice, if you want a culinary exploration of it, but I must admit that my unrefined palate most prefers the liver breaded, fried, and served with white gravy or regular old yellow mustard. Many folks swear by BBQ for the hearts. They have a street food in Jerusalem called the mixed grill which is, in essence, organ meat grilled with onions and spices and served in a pita.

If you aren't exactly ready to dive facefirst into a plate of sauteed organs, they also do well tossed into the stock pot with the carcass to make bone broth. As do chicken feet (sounds totally weird in our bubble wrapped palates here in the Western world, but believe you me, no 'ethnic' market is without chicken feet or offal. we tend to throw away the most nutritious and flavorful parts of the animal. all it takes is a good plate of liver and onions or ham and beans made with the pork belly and you will be a believer.
 
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Ashley Cottonwood wrote:I would like to reduce the waste



I see this a lot and just want to offer an opposing view.

There is no such thing as waste.

Organs from an animal will be eaten, if not by you then they will feed countless other things. From scavenging predators to the microbes in your soil. So never feel bad about adding good material back to the land. Too often we give only artificial things to the land, so natural things is not only fine but helpful.

I know a lot of people call organs waste, but really every part will be used. If not by you then by something. So please stop thinking of it as waste and think of it as a resource. That is what it is, a resource to be taken advantage of.
 
Marco Banks
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A song from my childhood:


 
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Grilled heart of any kind is delicious! I like liver as well; Liver and onions, small chunks fried, made into liver mush, grilled.  Our other organs, with the exception of the stomach and intestinesget cooked, ground, and fed to the chickens or hog.  A bit labor intensive, but adds another cycle before becoming compost.  Stomach and intestines get composted.
 
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