by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Bones n’ Guts Recipes

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Eating something a little different can be exciting. Maybe you have not tried it before or are not sure if you want to eat it altogether. We are not generally grossed out by a chicken breast or a slice of ham but those pieces are only part of the animal. You may not be eating every cut of the animal but somewhere someone else definitely is, and due to the overall lack of interest they are probably paying low prices for those bits n’ pieces that have fallen out of favor with the mainstream. The extra parts such as bones and organs (offal) are hands down the most nutrient and especially mineral dense portions of the animals we eat. Our modern society has numerous and widespread mineral deficiencies and it’s easy to guess why. Yes, what I am recommending is for meat eaters to try and get more of these Bones n’ Guts recipes into the diet. I have compiled three recipes that I believe are not, shall we say, too hard core. I plan on posting a few more in the future that will be a little notch up in unusualness. It is of course important to stick with the same standard with these cut as any other dairy or meat products, free-range, grass-fed and organic.

Coffee Braised Oxtails in an Acorn Squash Bowl

DSCN0799It’s important to eat every part of the cow and luckily there is at least one good recipe out there somewhere for every cut. Braising is so easy and goof-proof that making something out of the oxtail is no trick at all. The oxtail is simply the cow tail cut up into chunks. What is left is some perfectly delectable meat that is nutrient rich and also contains exposed bone marrow, which is home to vital minerals. With slow cooking, although the total time is long, the amount of effort is usually minimal as is the case here. It can even be made well ahead and left on the stove to reheat later. It’s a good idea to start this recipe at least 4-5 hours ahead of dinnertime. This recipe has more of a autumn feel but the ingredients are available anytime.

Oxtails

1 tbsp butter

3 lbs oxtails

Salt

1 shallot minced

1 cup brewed coffee

1-2 cups beef stock 

Squash

2 acorn squash

Cinnamon

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp butter

Fresh herb of your choosing for a garnish

Place oven rack in lower middle position and turn oven to 300 degrees. Heat Dutch Oven or large cooking pot to medium-high heat on stove top.  Salt the oxtails well and add 1 tbsp butter to Dutch Oven. Sear oxtails on all sides and make sure to get some good brown color on all surfaces. Cook in two batches as space allows to avoid crowding the pot.

Remove oxtails and set aside. I like to use the underside of the Dutch Oven lid for this. Add minced shallot and cook for a minute or two before reducing heat to low. Continue to caramelize for about five minutes more before adding the oxtails back in to the pot. Add coffee and stock, or just stock if you like. Liquid should come about halfway up the oxtails. Bring pot up to a simmer, cover and bake in the oven for three hours, flipping oxtails once during cooking.

A few minutes before removing oxtails from oven, cut each acorn squash in half from stem to tail. Use a spoon to hollow out the seeds and mealy parts. It’s helpful to remove a small slice of the rounded (base) part of the squash to make it stand without wobbling. Place squash in a baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Remove Dutch Oven from stove and replace with acorn squash. bringing stove heat up to 400 degrees. Cook squash for one hour.

Let oxtails rest covered for 30 minutes, then remove the oxtails from pot and set on lid once again to cool. With a large spoon or turkey baster remove and discard the top layer of fat from the remaining juices in pot. There will be plenty of sauce and you only need a little (a few tablespoons) so don’t worry about being too careful.  Separate the meat from the bones and fat with your hands then place back in pot with remaining sauce.

After the squash have cooked for 45 minutes, add one tbsp butter and two tbsp maple syrup to a small pan. Heat on low until well mixed.  Remove squash from oven and poke the orange flesh with a fork several times as you would a baked potato. Brush orange surfaces with syrup mixture. Return to oven for final 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for five minutes.  Spoon the meat mixture into the squash and stir to coat. This is a hardy dish and adding a fresh herb garnish, such as fresh parsley or chives, is a good idea before serving.

Makes 4 servings

 

Pate

pateI have always had kind of a fascination with liver, maybe more of a curiosity really. Growing up I would read books about polar exploration and it seemed like eating liver was mentioned at least once in every story. If a polar explorer was on the brink of starving they would always go straight for the liver after any hunt because it was easy to get to and also full of dense nutrition. Your welcome for the image I just put in your head. Liver is so dense with vitamins and minerals that a few hungry explorers that ate very generous portions are thought to have died from hypervitamintosis (too much vitamins). Both beef and chicken liver is packed full of nutrition, and although they may be the most nutritionally dense food we could ever eat you don’t have to worry about hypervitamintosis. My grandparents used to serve pate’ as a holiday appetizer frequently. This is hard to explain but I sort of liked it and sort of did not. Since then though I have eaten many delicious pates at restaurants and I really appreciate a well done pate served with a good glass of wine. An example of liver falling out of favor was clearly demonstrated when I purchased the chicken livers for this pate. A noticeably squeamish look was present on the young girl’s face behind the meat counter as she reached one hand in the direction of the chicken livers without really looking directly at them. I wonder if she would like to try this pate though? My guess is not.

1 tbsp clarified (ghee) butter

1 shallot minced

½ lb chicken livers

5 large dried prunes

2 oz Pinot Noir

3 fresh thyme sprigs minced

½ tsp salt

Rinse livers with cold water and allow to strain.  Mince shallot then remove leaves from thyme sprigs and mince. Turn burner to medium-high and melt one tbsp butter. When melted add minced shallots and allow to begin to brown and then reduce heat to low. Allow the shallots sufficient time to caramelize, about five minutes. Before adding livers to the pan, add a little more butter if needed.

Return heat to medium-high, add livers to the pan and sprinkle with salt. Add plums and thyme to pan and continue to cook livers as you would any meat but do not overcook.  You can slice one in half to check. They should be pink but not still red in the center, about a five minute process.

After five minutes add wine and cook one minute more. Remove pan from heat for five minutes to cool before blending. Blend enough to achieve a smooth paste consistency. Use a spatula to put pate into a small bowl and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to eat, garnish with a little fresh herbs such as thyme or a bay leaf. Serve with crackers or cucumbers. You should have plenty of wine left. No one has ever eaten pate without wine before.

 

Homestyle Chicken Stock

A homemade chicken stock is easy to make as long as two simple steps are observed. The first is to expose the inside of the chicken bone. A meat cleaver is best for this and in fact really doesn’t have too many other uses other than making stock. If this step is skipped you will end up with a chicken broth rather than a stock. The second, and an important component of any stock, is a sufficient amount of members of the onion family. A lot of garlic and a lot of onion will round out the flavor of your stock. The onions and garlic are so important that you really could make a great stock with only them and the chicken alone. Buying a whole chicken is a great deal and I always make this stock with the extra pieces.

 chickenstocks

10 cups water

Mixed chicken pieces (neck, wings, backbone)

1 tbsp butter

Onion

Garlic

Carrot tops

Parsley

Celery

Bay leaf

Salt

Two wings, the backbone, and the neck are plenty to make a great batch of chicken stock. If you have additional pieces or skin feel free to add them in. A meat cleaver is helpful for exposing the marrow but a heavy-sharp knife or kitchen scissors will work too. Make cuts (more like knicks) about a half inch apart on one side of each piece, flip over and do the same on the other. Don’t worry if a piece is split in half.

Add butter to a dutch oven or stockpot and bring heat to medium-high. Salt chicken liberally and add to pot. Make sure to move them around so they do not stick. After a few minutes cut an onion in half and nestle in between chicken so cut surface is touching the bottom of pan. After a few more minutes add garlic cloves, celery, carrot tops, and parsley.

Add 10 cups of water and bay leaf and bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for two hours covered. Taste and add salt if desired to finish off the stock or wait until using for a recipe. Strain through a fine strainer. Enforcing with cheesecloth will help get the littlest bits out but this is not crucial.

chickenstock5

Tips: It is really important to get every last bit of nutrition we can from any animal or food that has been harvested. When making stock mostly throw away parts are used but they can be something nutritious and delicious.

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