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OFFAL AND VARIETY MEATS

European Peasant Cookery
by Elisabeth Luard
Among peasant communities who did their own butchering, innards and the bits and pieces which couldn't be preserved were eaten fresh after the autumn slaughter of livestock.  They were the portion of those preparing and salting down the winter's larder stores, providing a quick feast at the end of the long day In towns and cities the same off-cuts were sold cheap to the urban poor.  In the great ship-victualling ports such as Marseilles and Cork, the salters who barrelled up the meat for the long sea voyage were often paid partly in offal - creating a taste which survives to this day.
 

Sweetbreads: Two varieties go under the same name the pancreas (elongated in shape and found near the stomach) and the thymus glands (rounded and to be found in the animal's throat).  To prepare, put the sweetbreads in a bowl and cover them with salted water.  Leave for 2 hours to soak out any traces of blood.  Clean and wipe.  Then put them into boiling water with a few peppercorns and a tablespoonful of vinegar.  Bring back to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Drain and remove all traces of skin and sinew.  Press between two weighted plates until cold and firm.  Cut into squares.  They are now ready to be stewed in butter, sauced with mushrooms and cream, egg-and-breadcrumbed and fried - the choice is yours.
 

Brains: Soak them first in salted water (from 2-4 hours depending on the size of the brain). Remove the covering membrane and wipe the meats carefully.  Soak them for another hour to get rid of any remaining blood.  Finish as for sweetbreads — brains will need an extra ten minutes simmering.  Store them in their cooking liquid if they are not be used at once.
 

Fry: The testicles of meat animals, reckoned the most delicious morsel of all by those who appreciate such things.  Pour boiling water over the fry, skin them and leave them to soak in cold water with a teaspoon of vinegar for a couple of hours.  Then slice them and sauté them gently in butter or oil.  Delicious treated in the French manner, with a few sliced mushrooms (wild would be best of all) and cream tossed into the frying pan as they cook. . In Spain I was shown how to prepare an excellent dish of goat's fry sliced and cooked in oil and garlic, served with quartered lemons, salt, bread and fried green peppers.
 

 

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