Some of the most sought after and costly entrees on continental menus both here and abroad are made from variety meats, sometimes called meat specialties or sundries. These include brains, heart, kidney, liver, sweetbreads, tongue, and tripe, as well as tails and knucklebones with their delicious marrow centers.
Sometimes when I am enjoying the marvelous and differing tastes and textures of kidneys in a mustard or piquant sauce, tripe a la mode de Caen, sweetbreads and tongue in gourmet restaurants I ask myself why I don't prepare these dishes more often at home.
They provide relief from the weekly tedium of chicken, ground meat, and chops. Their preparation in most cases is not complicated, and although not the great food bargain they were 25 or 50 years ago, their price is still not prohibitive.
Recently I purchased two veal kidneys for less than $1.00. Sauteed in butter with fresh mushrooms and served with rice there was plenty for both my husband and me.
Variety meats adapt well to stuffings or gravies, and their yield can be extended by serving them with rice or noodles.
Liver is probably the most popular of these meats for home consumption, especially when it's served with onions, but all deserve a place on the weekly menu. Each can be delicious to eat and attractive in appearance. I have chosen recipes that were likely to have general appeal. The esoteric and those requiring detailed preparation I leave for the culinary connoisseurs. Liver with Sour Cream Gravy 1 1/2 pounds beef or pork liver Flour for dredging 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/4 cup butter or margarine 2 tablespoons flour 3/4 cup hot water 3/4 cup sour cream Pepper to taste Chopped chives
Dredge liver well with flour and sprinkle with salt. Saute in butter or margarine in a heavy skillet over moderate heat until browned on both sides. Continue cooking until no longer pink in center, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to hot platter and cover to keep warm.
Blend the 2 tablespoons flour in butter remaining in skillet and add the hot water gradually, stirring vigorously until gravy boils and thickens. Add sour cream and reheat, stirring until smooth.
Add additional salt if needed, and pepper to taste. Sprinkle liver with chopped chives and serve at once with the hot gravy. Serves 4 to 5. Deviled Kidneys 2 pounds beef, lamb, or veal kidneys 3 teaspoons salt 1/4 cup butter or margarine 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard 1/4 teaspoon paprika 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/3 cup flour 3/4 cup hot water 4 cups boiled rice 6 slices broiled bacon
Wash kidneys thoroughly. Split and remove core and tubes with scissors Cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and soak 1/2 hour. Drain well, Cut each kidney into 6 pieces. Melt half the butter. Blend with mustard, rest of salt, paprika, and lemon juice. Roll each piece of kidney in this sauce, then in the flour.
Melt remaining butter in skillet. Add kidneys and brown slowly on all sides. Add hot water, cover, and simmer until kidneys are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, add a little more hot water. Serve kidneys hot in their own sauce with broiled bacon and boiled rice and salad. Serves 4. Baked Stuffed Beef Heart 1 large beef heart Salt and pepper 2 cups seasoned dressing Fat 1 can onion soup 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 large bay leaf 6 small onions 4 carrots, halved Garlic to taste (optional)
Wash heart thoroughly. Remove veins and arteries. Rub inside and outside with salt and pepper. Fill with favorite seasoned dressing. Sew or skewer heart together. Brown in roasting pan in hot fat. Add soup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. Place bay leaf on top. Cover pan. Bake in a 300 degree F. oven until tender, about 3 hours and 20 minutes. Place onions and carrots around heart. Bake for 40 minutes longer. Thicken gravy, if desired. Add water, if needed, during baking. Remove bay leaf before serving. Serve with buttered noodles or mashed potatoes. Serves 6. Boiled Beef Tongue 1 fresh beef or calf tongue 2 medium onions 1 carrot 3/4 cup diced celery and leaves 6 sprigs parsley 8 peppercorns 1 teaspoon salt Boiling water
Place ingredients in kettle, using just enough water to cover tongue. Simmer for about 3 hours, or until tongue is tender. Drain, saving liquid to use for stock. Remove skin and roots from tongue. Serve with horseradish or mustard sauce, or with Harvard Beets. Serves 6.
I have sometimes thought that those who really enjoy "tripe" should form a club, for people's feelings about this particular variety meat are likely to run to extremes. There are those, like myself, who can and often do eat it in some form. Others have not tasted it and perhaps never will.
Tripe is the basis of many delicious dishes in France and Italy, and Tripe Soup is almost the national dish of Turkey. Many New Englanders always have enjoyed it; I have noticed that it desappears very quickly at one of our local markets.
Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup, which has tripe as its base, originated at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777. It can be found in many cookbooks, so rather than offer it here I have chosen instead one of the dishes that helped make Boston's Parker House famous. Tripe a la Parker House Fresh honeycomb tripe Flour Salt and pepper Olive oil Sifted bread crumbs
Cut fresh tripe in 5 by 7-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with flour, then dip in olive oil and sprinkle with sifted crumbs. Broil slowly 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until crumbs are brown. Serve with mustard sauce. Mustard Sauce 1 tablespoon minced onion 3 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoon cider vinegar 2 tablespoons dry mustard 1 tablespoon water 1 cup brown gravy
Saute onion in butter. Add vinegar and simmer 5 minutes. Moisten dry mustard with water and blend, then add brown gravy. Simmer a few minutes. Strain and serve very hot with tripe.