Two Must-Try Offal Cuts

If you're feeling adventurous, there's a lot of cuts of meat at your butcher shop that you may have never had before. Sometimes, they don't exactly look appealing, such as tripe, which is the lining of the first two of four stomachs in cows, sheep, and other grass-eating ruminants. Sometimes, they don't sound appealing, such as testicles, often referred to by the more appetizing name, Rocky Mountain Oysters. These are the testicles of bulls, rams, and boars. And sometimes, they neither look nor sound appealing. Such is the case with beef tongue or heart. All of these cuts of meat, and more, when prepared correctly, can be extremely tasty. It can be difficult to psychologically get over the thought of organ meats and cuts of meat you don't routinely see at the grocery store, but as the old adage goes, what do you really think is in that ubiquitous American summertime favorite, the hot dog? Even all-beef hot dogs aren't being made with the prime cuts! Here are two of those organ cuts that may not necessarily sound or look good, but they are tasty, relatively inexpensive, and simple to prepare:

Beef Tongue

It can be argued that Americans' favorite ethnic food is Mexican. If you are a taco lover, you may have already even had beef tongue at your favorite Mexican cantina without knowing it. "Tacos de Lengua" is the way it appears on the menu, but this is actually tacos made from beef tongue. When you see this on the menu, you know you are at an authentic Mexican restaurant.

A beef tongue isn't pretty; it typically weighs about three pounds- it's huge! But after being cleaned of its outer membrane and simmered all day in garlic, onion, chilies, and other spices, it is melt-in-your-mouth tender. The tongue is then thinly sliced and chopped and given a quick sauté in oil to brown it before loading into a tortilla and topping with fresh cilantro, onion, sliced radishes, avocado, salsa verde, and Mexican crema.

Beef Heart

Ask the butcher to make sure the heart has been cleaned of any remaining arteries or stringy tissues. They normally do a pretty good job of this anyway, but as you are a beginner, it will just make it easier for you if you don't have to do any minor trimming at all.

Beef heart lends itself very well to grilling. It doesn't have a liver texture or flavor. In fact, it's very similar to steak. Marinate the beef heart for a few hours in the refrigerator in a mixture of olive oil, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic and onion powder, and salt and pepper. Allow it to come to room temperature while you prepare a hot grill. When you're ready, simply grill on both sides for about 5 minutes, and then allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes. Slice like a flank steak, and serve with tortillas or with a traditional baked potato and salad.