Offal, or organ meats, have become increasingly popular ingredients in contemporary gastronomy. Once considered peasant foods, these “nasty bits” have gone mainstream, prized by some of the world’s most celebrated chefs, not to mention the television series Fear Factor. But please don’t stop at pork bellies, beef cheeks, and marrow bones. There’s a whole world of nasty bits out there for your gastronomical exploration.
1. Blood vessels: Serve them just as you would pasta. Capillaries make a great substitute for angel hair, while larger arteries can replace bucatini in your favorite pasta dish.
2. Salivary glands: Mouthwateringly delicious sautéed with olive oil, garlic, and sea salt.
3. Esophagus: Stuff these with your favorite sausage.
4. Gallbladder: An acquired taste, gallbladders can be quite bitter due to bile. However, if you like broccoli rabe, you may well enjoy this organ. Be careful of gallstones, however.
5. Pancreas: Not only can you eat the pancreas, you can squeeze out the pancreatic juices over ice for a summer refresher.
6. Rectum: Treat these as you would a chile relleno, stuffed with cheese and rice.
7. Anus: Deep-fry them by the basketful and serve with aioli as you would fried calamari.
8. Hypothalamus: These secrete some really cool hormones like dopamine. Smoke them using a trachea (see below).
9. Bladder: Serve filled with lemonade.
10. Urethra: These don’t taste all that good, but they make for great straws.
11. Tonsils: These can be hard to find unless you live near a children’s hospital. Serve them with ice cream.
12. Adenoids: See Tonsils.
13. Hangnails: Grind in a mortar and pestle with olive oil, pine nuts, and cheese for a wonderful pesto (garlic is optional).
14. Spinal cords: Serve them in soup and slurp them like noodles.
15. Ovaries: Known as the “caviar of the land,” scoop out the eggs with a mother-of-pearl spoon and serve with toast and crème fraîche.
16. Nipples: Roast and salt them as you would nuts.
17. Prostate: Classic finger food.
18. Trachea: They don’t call this the windpipe for nothing. Use it to smoke a hypothalamus (see above).
19. Ligaments and tendons: Talk about toothsome; these can be a little chewy. They make great substitutes for chewing gum.
20. Larynx: Not only is the larynx — also known as the voice box — delicious braised, roasted, or steamed, it’s also a great conversation starter at parties. Literally.
—From Comfort Me with Offal, Ruth Bourdain’s Guide to Gastronomy, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC