Synopses & Reviews
In a world of costly prime cuts—stately crown roasts, plump pork chops, and regal racks of lamb—it’s easy to forget about (and steer clear of) the more economical, but less lovable parts of the beast—bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and, oh yes, testicles.
Historically, these so-called odd bits have had a regular place on our plates and in our culinary repertoires. In fact, many are considered delicacies and routinely appear in regional specialties. So why do we eschew and waste valuable protein? When have our sensibilities become so squeamish? In short—when did we decide offal had become awful?
Jennifer McLagan, award-winning author of Bones and Fat, is on a crusade to bring the nose-to-tail style of cooking and eating out of the closet and back onto to our dining tables. Her mission: restoring our respect for the whole animal, developing a taste for its lesser known parts, and learning how to approach them in the kitchen as confidently as we would a steak or a burger.
Serious food lovers will delight in the sheer variety of the dishes that await, ranging from simple to challenging:
• Headcheese for the Unconvinced
• Veal Cheeks with Swiss Chard and Olives
• Cheese and Just a Little Brain Fritters
• Lamb Neck with Quince and Turnip
• Brisket Braised with Caramelized Onions and Chile
• Sweetbreads with Morels and Fresh Fava Beans
• Moroccan-Style Braised Heart
• Minted Tripe and Pea Salad
• Wild Boar Shanks with Cranberries and Chocolate
• Bone Marrow and Mushroom Custard
Much more than a cookbook, Odd Bits delves into the rich geographical, historical, and religious roles of these unusual meats. McLagan’s enthusiasm for her subject is contagious, and with her insight and humor will convert even non-believers to the pleasure of odd bits.
"It is tempting to say that this book is plain offal. But McLagan, who has authored two kindred collections, Bones and Fat, explores more than just innards. As the cover hints with its photo of two severed pig's feet, all sorts of extremities find their way to the table in this 100-recipe autopsy. It is perhaps the perfect gift for the host who has dreamt of announcing that the evening's meal will be ravioli of brains and morels, or heart burgers, or crispy testicles. McLagan puts the face back in preface with an intriguing 11-page introduction that places the odd bits in historical perspective and explores our loss of food literacy in the age of the supermarket. As the chapters progress from head to tail, there are also fascinating explorations of topics such as the wonders of tripe and how to choose a great neck. Even the meager duck heart and the fleshy cockscomb get their due. It's on to dessert: a tub of chocolate blood ice cream, which employs ginger, Grand Marnier and a half-cup of pork blood. McLagan earns linguistic points for exploring the derivation of such terms as sweetbread and head cheese. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to the author’s award-winning Bones and Fat, Odd Bits features over 100 recipes devoted to the “rest of the animal,” those under-appreciated but incredibly flavorful and versatile alternative cuts of meat.
We’re all familiar with the prime cuts—the beef tenderloin, rack of lamb, and pork chops. But what about kidneys, tripe, liver, belly, cheek, and shank? Odd Bits will not only restore our taste for these cuts, but will also remove the mystery of cooking with offal, so food lovers can approach them as confidently as they would a steak. From the familiar (pork belly), to the novel (cockscomb), to the downright challenging (lamb testicles), Jennifer McLagan provides expert advice and delicious recipes to make these odd bits part of every enthusiastic cook’s repertoire.
About the Author
Jennifer McLagan is a chef and food stylist and writer who has worked in Toronto, London, and Paris as well as her native Australia. Her previous books, Bones (2005) and Fat (2007) were both widely acclaimed and each won Beard and IACP awards. Jennifer is a regular contributor to Fine Cooking and Food & Drink. She has lived in Toronto for more than thirty years with her sculptor husband, Haralds Gaikis, with whom she escapes to Paris as often as possible. On both sides of the Atlantic, Jennifer maintains friendly relations with her butchers, who put aside their best fat, bones, and odd bits for her. Visit www.jennifermclagan.com.
Table of Contents
“As an admirer of McLagan’s previous books as well as a cook and writer increasingly aware of the importance of using more than just the tender refined parts of animals and avoiding waste, I know of no other book this season more welcome than this one devoted to exploring the whole animal. McLagan comes through again. Thank you.”
—Michael Ruhlman, author of Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking and Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
“Let Jennifer McLagan take you by the trotter and lead you through the odd bits. Hang on, surely some mistake: the good bits!”
—Fergus Henderson, author of The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
Praise for Fat
McLagan’s book is a smart, sensual celebration of the flavorful animal fats prized by chefs and shunned by a generation of lipo-phobes. Her French Fries in Lard may change your life forever.
Jennifer McLagan’s cookbooks are joyously contrarian affairs. [Fat] is a rollicking journey through the kingdom of unrepentant, glorious, and filthy rich fat.
—T. Susan Chang, The Boston Globe
Persuasively arguing that the never-ending quest for “health” has gone too far, McLagan’s elegant and informed look at this most maligned ingredient is appropriately unctuous.
—Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)