Offal Good: Cooking From the Heart, With Guts
by Chris Cosentino with Michael Harlan Turkell
In the introduction to this beautifully photographed cookbook that anyone who is curious or enthusiastic about organ meats will want to rush out and buy, chef Chris Cosentino notes that one of his earliest childhood experiences involved running away from his grandmother’s sulfuric-smelling tripe. Cosentino—a “Ritalin kid” who couldn’t concentrate on books but was attracted to the hustle-bustle of restaurant cooking—went to culinary school and climbed the Bay Area restaurant ladder, including a stint at Chez Panisse. Later, chance encounters with a used “variety meats” cookbook, Asian cuisine and innovative ranchers spurred him to prove that “cuts that others didn’t or wouldn’t” use could be delicious. Offal Good is the result: “a tour through the anatomy, but from a cook’s view.” The first fifty pages of text and photos take the reader through a comprehensive survey of cow, pig, sheep and fowl parts—skin, head, tongue, ears, brain, sweetbreads, lungs, heart, blood, liver, stomach, spleen, kidneys, intestines, fat, feet, bones, cartilage, tendons, tail and “odd parts” such as cow’s udders, testicles, gizzards and even cockscomb—and, importantly, offer suggestions on where to find them. The recipes in the next four animal-specific chapters have colorful titles such as “This is your brain on drugs” (a tribute to the 1980s public service announcements) and “‘Big brain, little brain’ calf’s brain & testicles with Sudachi brown butter.” Returning to his roots, Cosentino also has plenty of tripe recipes to share, including his “Grandma Rosalie’s tripe.” For the cook who, like Cosentino, is ready to prove to family or friends that offal can be delicious, this book looks capable of making converts out of many.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2019