Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Odd Bits: how to cook the rest of the animal, by Jennifer McLagan

Have you ever looked at your burger and thought about the rest of the animal? Not merely the muscle and sinew, but the organs, bones, and blood that help support the animal and make your burger possible. What happened to those important yet often overlooked bits? If you consider these pieces a health hazard and gratefully forgotten, think again. You could be missing a tasty treat, according to Jennifer McLagan of Odd Bits: how to cook the rest of the animal.

 McLagan, who has previously discussed our delicious animal friends in her award-winning books, returns in this masterful cookbook with unexpectedly lovely photos. The book itself is split into 4 chapters, which follow the progression of edible animal parts from snout to tail. It is true that some recipes are a little strong for the squeamish, such as heart tartare or sour lung soup. However, there are just as many recipes in the middle chapters involving more conventional cuts of meat such as brisket, ribs and shoulder. But Odd Bits is about exploring the unconventional (albeit surprisingly traditional) meats. McLagan explains the history of cooking odd bits and how they disappeared from recent menus. She also discusses her personal history with odd bits and why she would consider herself your best guide through this unusual, edible journey.

The book is also interspersed with stories, trivia, and quotes. As with all meat products, find a trusted source, both to ensure your health and have a pleasant meal. Keep in mind, most exotic odd bits are not to be found in the United States, as the USDA does not consider them suitable for human consumption. But if you’re able to locate your chosen odd bit, please note that this cookbook was not created for amateurs chefs. The preparation for some odd bits recipes involve at least a day of preparation, and there are many steps in the recipe proper. If, however, you are willing, McLagan provides blueprints for an exceptional meal. If you’re interested in more about offbeat carnivorous tendencies, try Michael Ruhlman’s The Book of Schmaltz: love song to a forgotten fat, or you can check out McLagan’s previous book, Bones: history, recipe, and lore, from your local library.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a book cover! but hmmm. . .
The thought of eating such is out of my comfort zone. Still, I'm open minded on the content.