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More Stories Of Eating Animal Organs

To read the story referenced, “Liver: The Unappreciated Superfood Of Yesteryear,” click here.

In answer to your question about other organs I enjoy eating. Here are some that I grew up eating and still enjoy but not as often as I would like. I grew up on a small farm with extended family and had the benefit of both my grandmother’s cooking in addition to my mother’s. There was a heavy German and English influence in the food.

Kidney stew. Made like regular stew but with kidneys. Can also include beef meat. Steak and kidney pie is great, too. Kidneys have a distinct flavor.

Chicken gizzards. Tough and chewy but great flavor. Diced up in chicken soup or stew.

Stuffed beef heart is great.

Haggis has a bad rap but it is all the sheep’s various organs diced up and mixed with oatmeal and spices stuffed in a sheep’s stomach and baked. It really is very good.

Blood sausage is the jelled blood mixed with the tongue, cheeks and other head meats of a pig stuffed into a large sausage skin. Great sliced for sandwiches.

Head cheese is basically the same as above but with jelled stock instead of blood.

A non-organ meal that I like is pig’s knuckles and sauerkraut. Put the pig’s knuckles in a large pot, cover with sauerkraut and pour in a six pack of beer and simmer for several hours. The knuckles taste great and the kraut is made less “sour” by the beer and takes on a different flavor from the pork.

I hope you try some of these and enjoy them.



As a physician, one caution I would make would be that eating the brains of deer, especially from the Colorado Mountain areas, have been demonstrated to put the eater at risk for acquiring prion neurologic impairment of a type related to “Mad cow disease.” This can onset many years from the time the brains are eaten, and I would advise against their consumption. Sweet breads are the classic term for brains eaten, and my mother also loved them as a child. She fought with her siblings for the brains of squirrels growing up; they were such a delicacy.



My mom would boil and slice beef and pork heart and tongue. I loved the tongue because it was so tender and delicious.



My dad went out to the Black Hills every year for about 40 years to hunt deer. He also hunted at home, and we butchered our deer at home. It was his tradition to keep the heart, clean it up (trim it), slice thin, coat with flour, and fry it in the morning with pancakes. All seven of us kids have this memory of deer heart and pancakes during hunting season. Now my husband has this tradition too, although he only hunts our land here at home.   



When I was a kid, we always fought over who got the gizzard and heart when we had fried chicken. Since there was only one of each, it was quite the prize to be awarded and sometimes they just disappeared before the chicken was on the table. Mom or Daddy? We never knew …

When my own kids were young, I would save the hearts, gizzards and livers from each chicken I cooked and put them in the freezer until there was enough, then we would have a feast! I would coat them with cornmeal/flour and salt and fry them just like fried chicken. It was a special night around the table when there was enough to satisfy everyone.

I have noticed that the free-range chickens I buy don’t have them anymore and even conventional chicken gizzards and livers are hard to find.

I suspect the giblets that we used to prize are used in dog food or cat food now (“real chicken bites!”).

There is a dish, which I can’t remember the name of, that consists of boiled chicken gizzards, onion and tomatoes. I’m not all that much of an adventurous cook, but I tried it and it’s really rather good.

It’s a shame that we throw away or refuse to eat perfectly good food in America, but with such a perceived abundance, people just aren’t interested. I say “perceived” because our food is too often lacking nutrition and only tickles the taste buds. That’s not food.



I myself grew up in in the 1960s and 1970s in Arkansas, and both parents were country folk. I do remember seeing my mom eat the Squirrel brains at our dinner table, and every chicken at the grocery store has a heart (my favorite) a liver and a gizzard. They ate these, too.


One comment

  1. Stephen,

    I agree with you about contracting prion neurological impairment. However, sweetbreads are the thymus gland of cows. Our local slaughter house saves all of them for me. Grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free………very tasty.

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