Don't let "variety meats" turn you off . . . at least until you have tried them. To name a few: kidneys, heart, liver, brains, and tongue. All of them are much cheaper than other meat. And there isn't as much waste, either. In comparison, a pound of hamburger costs $1.49 a pound these days, while a pound of beef kidney costs only 49 cents.
Years ago, when my marriage was young, I turned my nose up at the mention of heart or tongue. Even liver didn't appeal. I had a very wise mother-in-law, however, and she gradually introduced me to variety meats and how to prepare them. Even the children learned to like them. This was during the depression, and variety meats were sold for only pennies per pound. Let me tell you about some of them that will save you money, even today.
Kidneys -- veal, beef, pork, and lamb -- are all good, with pork being the cheapest. To prepare for cooking, cut kidney into 1 1/2-inch cubes and trim away all white veins and fat. Soak in cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 hour. Drain, and proceed with recipe. Kidney Fricassee 1 1/2 pounds kidneys, any kind 2 tablespoons oil or shortening Flour, salt, and pepper 1 large onion, sliced 1/2 bay leaf, crushed, optional 1 small can mushrooms, undrained 1 cup chicken broth or bouillon
Shake kidney pieces in bag with flour, salt, and pepper as desired, until coated. Brown well in skillet in hot shortening or oil. Add mushrooms and broth, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover, simmering slowly for about 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Stir occasionally and add more liquid if needed. Serve on hot cooked rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes. Serves 4.
I've made delicious Stroganoff using cooked kidney, and also good meat pies, mixing it with other leftover cooked meats and vegetables.
Hearts can be veal, beef, pork, or lamb, and all are very good. Beef is the easiest to find. One beef heart averages 3 to 5 pounds and will make 2 meals of 4 servings each.
Wash the heart well, cut in half, and remove any vessels or fat. Stewed Heart Slices 1/2 beef heart or 1 whole veal, pork or lamb heart Flour, shortening, salt, and pepper 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 large onion, sliced 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 4 medium carrots, quartered 4 medium potatoes, quartered 4 celery stems, diced
Slice heart into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Season flour with salt and pepper. Dip heart in flour and brown slowly on both sides in Dutch oven in shortening. Add garlic, onion, and Worcestershire sauce and cover with water. Cover and simmer slowly for 1 1/2 hours.
Add carrots, potatoes, and celery and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more water if needed. Simmer 1 more hour, or until meat and vegetables are tender. If desired, thicken liquid by adding a mixture of flour and water and bringing to a boil. Serves 4.
Brains? Don't shudder. They are delicious, and easily cooked, too, although sometimes hard to locate. There are beef, veal, pork, or lamb brains, frozen and fresh. Use the same day you buy them unless they're kept frozen. One pound will serve 4.
To prepare, wash carefully, then soak in cold water with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar for 1 hour. Cut away white clumps of membrane at base and carefully peel off outer membrane. Soak for one more hour in salted water, changing water twice. Golden Fried Brains 1 1/4 pounds prepared brains, drained and sliced 1/2 inch thick 1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper 1 beaten egg mixed with 1 ta blespoon water Cracker or bread crumbs Oil or shortening
Dip brains into flour, then into beaten egg, then into crumbs. Heat oil or shortening in skillet to 375 degrees F. and fry brains 3 or 4 minutes on each side until golden. Serve with a salad and hot biscuits or rolls, or with French fries and relishes.