Liver. Tongue. Heart.
If your mind jumped to anatomy – and not tonight’s dinner – you’re not alone. But if you’re willing to expand your mind (and your palate), you just might be in for a treat.
What are offal meats?
Offals, also known as variety meats, make up the organs and other parts of the animal that are less mainstream than the cuts you may be used to buying. This includes (but isn’t limited to) liver, heart, sweetbreads, tongue, oxtails, certain muscles, tripe, bones and more.
These less common cuts are not only a great way to get out of your usual recipe rut, but also present an opportunity to explore global cuisines. As an added bonus, Variety meats are often more affordable than traditional cuts, and they reduce your environmental footprint by making use of nearly the whole animal.
Plenty of Recipe Potential
There are all kinds of great recipes you can make with variety meats. Make Liver and Onions – a nostalgic classic – or branch out and try your hand at an authentic Caldo de Res Mexican-Style Beef Soup.
Or try swapping out your commonly used cuts for variety meats the next time you grill out. Whether you’re a culinary explorer or just want to try something new, you’ll be surprised just how delicious variety meats can be.
Enjoyed by Many Cultures
While many cultures have enjoyed variety meats for centuries, these cuts are known for their acquired taste. But with the right seasonings and preparation, offal can taste amazing to both adventurous and reserved eaters alike.
No matter how you prepare your variety meats, there are a handful of spices and seasonings you can use to get the best flavor. Here are the top 10 spices and seasonings for offal meats.
Essential Spices and Herbs for Offal Meats
While salt is technically a mineral and not a spice, you should always season your offal meats with salt. In fact, every cut of meat needs salt. That’s because salt enhances flavor. So, salt is always a good base to start with.
2. Garlic Powder
It’s true – garlic goes with just about everything, and variety meats are no exception. Don’t forget about the fresh stuff, either. Garlic in all forms will enhance the flavor of your offals in ways you never thought possible.
3. Chili Powder
A staple in kitchens everywhere, chili powder is traditionally made from ancho chiles and a blend of Latin American spices. It’ll give your Latin-inspired variety meats dishes a spicy, smoky flavor.
Turmeric adds color and an earthy flavor – plus, studies show it’s loaded with health benefits. Add it to your favorite variety meat soups and stews for an extra layer of depth.
Like chili powder, paprika powder adds a layer of smoke and spice. However, paprika has a warmer, sweeter flavor. Use them in combination for the best of both worlds.
Cumin adds a strong, earthy, slightly spicy flavor. It’s a key ingredient for many soups, stews, tamales and tacos, and is often found in Mexican, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. It’s great to use as a rub or in a marinade.
You might be surprised to see espresso on the list, but finely ground espresso beans add a unique richness to red meat – particularly beef. The same rings true for your favorite variety meats.
8. Adobo Seasoning
Adobo comes from the Spanish word “adobar,” which means “to marinate.” So it’s no wonder adobo seasoning adds a delicious punch of zing to your favorite variety meats. This Latin seasoning typically consists of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper – but different brands can have different additions.
Achiote is native to the Caribbean and Mexico and comes from annatto seeds. It gives off earthy, peppery flavor with a hint of warm sweetness. It also gives food a beautiful orange color. Mix it with other herbs and spices and oil to create an achiote paste that’s great for marinating and giving smoky flavor to meat.
While it’s a simple, common spice, black pepper is key to adding heat and flavor to your variety meats. For the best flavor, grind your own whole peppercorns.
Discover all Offal has to Offer
The next time you’re browsing the meat case, do yourself a favor and don’t skip over the variety meats. And be sure to stop by the spice aisle on your way out. You never know – you could be well on your way to your next star dish.