Today’s world is driven by over-consumption, so nose-to-tail cooking is more relevant than ever. The most sustainable, environmentally friendly, and healthiest way to eat, nose-to-tail is a vital practice more people should embrace.
Nose-to-tail is the practice of using all of an animal’s edible elements, not just the popular parts.
Some of an animal’s most delicious, nutrient-dense parts are left in the ‘gut pile.’ The heart, liver, kidneys, and caul fat are all edible (and tasty) if appropriately prepared.
However, these aspects often get left behind when hunting or overlooked at grocery stores. In an uncertain landscape, we must consider all the possible ways to make ends meet and extend our food supply while benefiting from healthy, hearty meals.
Nose-to-tail cooking is common in other cultures worldwide. After all, nose-to-tail was the way of our ancestors, and, given the current climate, taking some tips from history may do us some good.
Our ancestors knew the value of their catch and often devised creative ways of using all the parts of an animal. While we may not be working as hard for our dinner today, there is still no reason we can’t see value in our consumption.
It is no surprise that most people love a good steak. However, many of us are unwilling to shell out the extraordinary cost of purchasing them. While competing with AAA-grade sirloin is hard, the recipes below may have you rethinking your meal plan.
Grilled Beef Heart
A Grilled Beef Heart has a texture and taste similar to a good steak. You are sure to love this dish.
1 beef heart
¼ c. honey
¼ c. red wine vinegar
½ to 1 c. cooking or coconut oil
- Rinse the beef heart thoroughly with cold water and pat dry.
- Cutting the beef heart in half, remove any visible strings, arteries, or veins, and trim any excess fat, setting this aside for later.
- Marinate the heart overnight in honey and vinegar, adding salt and pepper to preference.
- Sprinkle the beef heart with salt and pepper, and cook in halves or quarters.
- To cook the heart, melt a fair amount of your cooking oil in a skillet over high heat. Place the heart in the oil and allow it to cook without movement for 4-6 minutes per side.
- Remove the meat from the skillet and allow it to rest, tented with foil for at least 15 minutes.
- Slice it up into thin pieces and enjoy.
Braised Beef Heart
Making a stew in the crockpot is one of the easiest ways to create a tender, flavorful, braised beef heart stew.
1 beef heart
1½ cups of beef broth
½ tsp. salt, oregano, and garlic powder
2 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- Trim the heart, leaving a thin layer of fat. Cut the trimmed organ into small cubes, season with salt and pepper, and put them in the crock pot.
- Add beef stock, garlic, and any other spices you like before cooking and cooking on high for 4 hours. At this point, you can also add other vegetables of your choice, like potatoes and carrots.
- Strain the liquid into a saucepan, keeping the meat in the crockpot and setting it to keep warm.
- Add a tablespoon of unsalted butter, cornstarch, and 2 tsp. cold water to the strained liquid and cook for approximately two minutes, whisking constantly until thick.
- Remove from the stovetop. Plate the beef heart pieces and top with a generous amount of sauce.
Organ Meat Pie
If you loved grandma’s kidney or minced meat pie, this twist has a taste you can savor.
Purchase organ meat already ground from your butcher or use the following:
½ lbs. ground beef
½ lbs. ground beef heart
½ lbs. ground beef liver
1 tbsp cooking oil of choice
½ tsp of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix the meat and salt in a large bowl. Lightly brown the mixture in a skillet over medium heat
- Combine the eggs and whisk together. Pour the eggs over the browned meat, ensuring they are well combined.
- Bake in a pie dish for 15-20 minutes or until the egg sets.
- Remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Everyone should know at least one good bone broth recipe.
Bone broth is an excellent source of vitamins and can be easily added to soups or used to make stews.
This recipe is super simple, and the meat can be substituted without worry.
You only need some bones and water, but feel free to add veggies to your broth for added flavor.
- Add all ingredients to your crockpot, including the bones, scraps, fats, veggies, etc.
- Cover and cook on low for at least 12 hours, topping up the liquid as needed.
- Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then run it through a fine strainer into a large pot or container.
- Store your broth in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze it for future consumption. You can also puree the veggies and mix them back in to increase the flavor.
- For a long shelf life, you should can the bone broth using this guide.
In a perfect world, everything would be wrapped in bacon. However, many other parts of a pig are worth a taste. Try some of these ideas.
Hot Griddled Pig Ears:
Perfect for a meal or as a snack, this fan favorite is the perfect dish for any day.
2-4 pig ears
1-2 onions, cut in half
salt and pepper to taste
- Bring water to a boil in a pot, and add the pig ears, par-boiling for a few minutes to remove any impurities.
- Remove the ears from the water and put them in a pot with enough fresh water to cover them.
- Add the onion, carrot, and herbs, and bring it all to a boil.
- Once boiling, add salt and pepper and reduce heat, simmering for 2 ½ hours.
- Allow the ears to cool completely, and store the created broth in a sealed container for later use.
- Once cool, place the ears in a skillet and sear repeatedly, ensuring you press down on the meat often. You want the entire side to be charred and crispy on the edges before switching to the other side.
- Serve immediately with your choice of sauces.
Pork Rinds – a.k.a. Pig Skin
Pig skin makes is an excellent high-protein alternative to potato chips.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven.
- Cut the pork sink into small pieces with shears or a sharp knife, trimming any excess fat.
- Arrange the cut skin pieces on the baking sheet and bake until dry.
- Remove the dried pieces from the oven.
- In small batches, fry the skin pieces in two inches of oil, placing them on a paper towel as they are removed from the pan.
- Add more salt or other seasonings, and enjoy.
Chicken breast is a go-to meal in many households. However, the ever-increasing cost of this cut may have you seeking alternatives. Below are a few options to consider, with many others to explore.
Lemon Garlic Chicken Liver
Chicken tends to be a crowd favorite, yet the liver is one cut often overlooked. It turns out chicken liver is highly nutritious and popular worldwide. Give it a try with this easy recipe.
2 ½ tbsp olive oil
½ an onion, diced
6-8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ tsp oregano and garlic powder
½ cup chicken or bone broth
1-2 large lemons, sliced thin
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for 2-4 minutes.
- Toss in the salt, other dry spices, and the chicken liver. Cook until golden on all sides.
- Lower the heat, add the broth and lemons, and let simmer for 6-10 minutes, loosely covered, occasionally stirring.
Super easy and quick, chicken heart, like many of the items on this list, is often much cheaper than your average cuts of meat.
This chicken heart recipe is an excellent option for busy weeknights.
8-10 oz. chicken hearts
¼ – ½ tbsp olive oil
1-2 large onions, finely chopped
3-4 cloves minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp of butter
salt and pepper
- Heat a skillet with ½ tbsp of oil, adding in the onions and garlic to sauté for 5-10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and add the chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Cook the chicken, seasoning, and spices for another 6-9 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the butter, stirring constantly until melted. Serve and enjoy.
Pemmican is a survivalist staple. A good recipe can be a lifesaver. This easy-to-make organ pemmican is filled with nutrients and will fill even the hungriest bellies.
2 lbs. of ground meat (you can choose any meat you want)
2 tbsp salt
3-6 tbsp of desired herbs and spices
3 cups beef tallow or an alternative of your choosing
- Begin by melting your tallow using an oven-safe container on medium-low heat.
- Mix the meat, salt, and spices in a bowl.
- Once melted, allow the fat to cool slightly, pour it over the meat mixture, and put the entire product into a baking dish, such as an 8×8 cake pan or Pyrex dish, and allow it to set.
- Score your pemmican into squares (or roll into small protein balls) and store them in airtight containers until needed.
- If you want your pemmican to last or aim to have it on hand in an emergency, a root cellar is your best option.
- However you choose to store pemmican, ensure it is in a cool space, away from heat, sunlight, or temperature fluctuations.
I love a good haggis, and thankfully I don’t need a big celebration or a set of bagpipes to enjoy this meal. While I am part Scottish, you may not be. Still, this dish is a delight regardless of your genealogy.
Although haggis is traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach, ox or beef bung is a common alternative. These can be purchased online or from any specialty sausage butcher.
1 ox or beef bung
3 ½ lbs. lamb meat, cut into small chunks
1 lb. beef liver, cut into chunks
½ lbs. old-fashioned oats
4-6 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp all-spice
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper and mustard powder
1 lb. lard
1 cup (8oz) of beer
- Start by thoroughly rinsing the beef bung inside and out using lukewarm water and allowing it to sit periodically in water between rinsings for about an hour.
- Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and toast for approximately 20 minutes at 350, stirring and flipping occasionally.
- Sauté the onion in the butter until clear, and set aside to cool.
- Mix the spices, onion, lamb, liver, and toasted oats in a large Ziploc bag and place in the freezer until cold but not frozen.
- Chop all the meat into tiny, bite-sized pieces, or grind with a grinder.
- Place the meat mixture into a blender and blend on low for 1 minute. Add the beer and blend for another minute.
- Cut the bung into 3 equal pieces, sewing together one of the open ends of each, leaving the other open for stuffing.
- Stuff each bung sleeve with the meat mixture, squeezing out all the air but ensuring to leave some slack for expansion.
- Sew the ends shut. If you want to cook all three, you can. Otherwise, store two in the freezer.
- Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the haggis, allowing it to simmer gently for at least 3 hours.
Our early ancestors rarely discarded edible meats. In fact, the organ meats were thought to be the best part of the catch. There are many benefits to organ meat, from improved health and lower costs to environmental benefits.
Eating organ meats, even periodically, can significantly improve overall health and help to heal or alleviate many ailments. Organ meats are cardioprotective, meaning they protect you against heart disease.
Organ meat is also brain-boosting and can help your immune system stay strong. Furthermore, studies show that consuming organ meat can improve your mood and help ward off mental health conditions such as depression are anxiety.
With so many benefits, we should all embrace organ meats as part of our regular diets.
Do you have any organ meat meals that you love? Did your grandmother force-feed you kidney pie or roasted pig’s feet as a child? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
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