Winter is the perfect time for rich organ meat dishes. Chef Klaus Mitterhauser—also known as Professor Culinarius—shares his favorites with us. Once owner of a gourmet restaurant in the Twin Cities, Chef Mitterhauser now serves as a WAPF chapter leader in North Branch, Minnesota.
Organ meats are the most nutrient-dense part of the animal—from ten to 100 times richer in vitamins and minerals than muscle meats—and traditional cultures always consumed them, usually in rich dishes that included cream and plenty of butter. Such fare is truly food for the body and soul!
Chef Mitterhauser’s DVD, Rediscovering Wise Cooking Traditions by Professor Culinarius, as well as other educational materials on gourmet European cooking are available from his website http://professorculinarius.com.
PAN FRIED VEAL LIVER CAJUN STYLE WITH BACON AND APPLES
This rich dish is delicious with mashed potatoes, creamed kohlrabi or turnips, plain rice or baked squash.
- 6 six-ounce thin slices fresh veal, beef or pork liver, any gristle removed
- 2 cups raw milk for soaking
- 12 slices hickory smoked bacon (real smoke, not smoke flavor)
- 6 tart apples cut into thin wedges, not peeled
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 cup sourdough bread crumbs
For the Cajun seasoning mix:
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- Place all the spices for the Cajun seasoning in a jar, cover tightly and shake until well blended.
- Meanwhile, soak the liver slices in milk for a few hours, refrigerated. Remove slices from milk and pat dry.
- Dredge in a mixture of the Cajun seasonings and bread crumbs.
- Fry the bacon strips in a cast iron skillet, remove to a heated platter and keep warm.
- In the hot bacon fat, fry the liver slices approximately 1 minute per side and remove to the platter.
- Melt butter in the pan and sauté the sliced onions and apples in the butter and bacon fat until they are caramelized.
- To serve, arrange the liver on individual heated plates, place a generous spoonful of the apple-onion mixture on the liver and top with bacon.
VEAL KIDNEYS FLAMBE
In a fancy restaurant, this dish would be prepared tableside in a fancy copper sauté pan.
- 6 veal kidneys, trimmed and cut into thin slices
- 2 cups raw milk for soaking
- ½ cup shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms such as Chanterelles, quartered
- 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1 tablespoon cracked pepper
- 1/2 cup brandy, warmed
- 1 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- Sea salt to taste
- Soak trimmed kidneys in milk at room temperature for about an hour. Remove and pat dry.
- In a cast iron frying pan, sauté mushrooms and shallots in butter. Remove to a heated platter and keep warm.
- Add more butter to the pan and when it foams, sauté the kidney slices in batches about 1 ½ minutes per side—if kidneys are overcooked, they become tough and rubbery.
- Add the vinegar to the pan and then the brandy.
- Light the brandy and let it flambé.
- When the flame disappears, add the cream, parsley, pepper and rosemary leaves.
- Bring to the boil and let the sauce reduce a bit.
- Season to taste with sea salt.
- Serve the kidney slices on heated plates garnished with shallot-mushroom mixture and a spoonful of the sauce. Serve with risotto or rice.
DEVILED LAMB KIDNEYS
Chef Mitterhauser served this dish with bottled mango chutney, one of six original combinations created at Mitterhauser’s Restaurant. You can use a good quality commercial chutney, preferably one with all natural ingredients and low in sugar, or lacto-fermented mango chutney from Nourishing Traditions.
Deviled lamb kidneys were often served with scrambled eggs at sumptuous English breakfasts on luxury ocean liners.
- 8 whole lamb kidneys, peeled and trimmed of fat
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 4 slices sourdough bread, toasted
- 2 tablespoons mango chutney, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Seasalt to taste
- Mango chutney as garnish
- Split kidneys in half lengthwise and remove extra fat from the inside. (Note: this is wonderful hard suet that can be used in pastries or rendered into fat for frying.)
- Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Marinate the kidney halves in the mixture at room temperature for about 1 hour.
- Preheat broiler.
- Place kidneys split side up on a greased broiler pan and broil about 3 inches from the flame about 3 minutes per side, no longer— if kidneys are overcooked they become rubbery.
- Present on toast and serve at once with more mango chutney on the side.
BOILED SMOKED BEEF TONGUE
This dish is good for cold buffets served with horseradish sauce and fancy garnishes. Or it can be served on individual plates with boiled new potatoes, Savoy cabbage poached in tongue broth, Dijon mustard, pickled red beets and horseradish sauce on the side. In this recipe, the tongue is poached in a vegetable broth made of celery, carrots, parsnips, onions, bay leaves, black pepper corns, thyme and parsley stalks, but no salt because tongue is very salty from curing agents.
- 1 smoked beef or veal tongue, approximately 2 pounds
- 2 quarts vegetable broth
For the cold horseradish sauce (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated, peeled horseradish root
- 1 cup sour cream, preferably unpasteurized
- 1/2 cup homemade or good quality mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- cracked black pepper
- Poach the beef tongue in vegetable broth, covered, for approximately 3 hours, until easily pierced with a sharp knife.
- Transfer the tongue to a plate and allow to cool for only about 10 minutes. The skin will peel off most easily while the tongue is still hot, but be sure not to burn your fingers!
- Return the tongue to the broth to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the horseradish sauce by mixing all the ingredients together. Chill well.
- Chill the tongue and remove all the fat, bone and gristle from the thick end. (Note: the tongue gristle and fat are good for the compost pile—enclosed so the crows and raccoons don’t get into it!)
- The tongue may be sliced and served cold, or returned to the broth, heated, and sliced and served warm. Serve either cold or warm with horseradish sauce.
PAN BROILED SWEETBREADS ALPINE STYLE
Sweetbreads are the name given to the thymus gland of the calf. The best quality sweetbreads come from milk-fed calves. They are delicious and have the consistency of chicken, but they must be very fresh.
- 3 pairs of sweetbreads
- 2 quarts salted water for blanching
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups or more salted butter
- 3/4 cup sourdough bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 cup unbleached flour
- 6 thin slices Italian prosciutto ham
- 6 Portobello mushroom caps, sliced (save the stems for mushroom soup)
- Juice of 2 lemons, strained
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup homemade beef stock
- 2 tablespoons parsley, freshly chopped
- 6 slices toasted sourdough bread
- fried parsley for garnish
- To pre-prepare the sweetbreads, wash them and trim off all connective tissue.
- Meanwhile, bring the salted water to boil with the lemon slices.
- Drop the sweetbreads into the boiling water and blanch until the meat turns whitish, about 15 minutes.
- Remove to a colander, rinse with cold water and pat dry.
- Place a weight on the sweetbreads to flatten and chill well.
- Peel off the membrane and divide into 6 portions.
- Dredge the sweetbreads in a mixture of bread crumbs, salt, pepper, thyme and unbleached flour.
- Melt the butter or coconut oil in a cast iron skillet and sauté the sweetbreads on both sides until brown.
- Remove to a heated platter and keep warm in the oven.
- In the same pan, sauté the sliced mushrooms, adding additional butter if necessary.
- Remove the mushrooms and add more butter.
- When butter foams, deglaze with white wine and beef stock.
- Reduce until the sauce thickens.
- Stir the chopped parsley into the sauce.
- To serve, arrange the slices of toast on heated plates. Top each with a slice of ham and place the sweet breads on the ham. Arrange the mushrooms around the toast and drizzle sauce over the sweetbreads. Garnish with fried parsley. (Note: to fry parsley, drop in a fryer basket into hot fat, preferably tallow, for about 10 seconds until crisp.)
POACHED VEAL BRAINS IN BROWN BUTTER WITH CAPERS
In traditional Austrian or Eastern European cuisines, various preparations of veal brains are common on restaurant menus. They are delicious served with crisp sautéed potatoes.
- 3 veal brains
- 4 cups homemade beef or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups salted butter
- 4 tablespoons capers with their juice
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoon chopped chives.
- Soak brains in salted water for 15 minutes.
- Remove from soaking water, pat dry and remove membranes using a sharp knife.
- Poach brains in the broth with a pinch of salt and the vinegar for approximately 30 minutes or until the brains become firm.
- Allow to cool and slice into ¼-inch slices.
- For the brown butter sauce, melt the butter in a cast iron skilled until brown.
- Add the capers, parsley and chives and pour butter sauce over the brain slices.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2007.