The resurgence of interest in traditional, flavoursome food appears to be generating increased consumer enthusiasm about cooking with offal, with tripe, trotters and testicles back on the menu.
An increasing number of top chefs are now encouraging a growing trend for nose-to-tail cooking and celebrity chefs, such as Michelin-starred Tom Kitchin, are leading the way and encouraging consumers to minimise waste by using every part of an animal and experiment with new ingredients.
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has teamed up with Tom to showcase how easy it is to make simple and delicious dishes using offal – the parts also known as the “fifth quarter”.
The best known offals include heart, liver and kidney but tongue, cheeks and sweetbreads also come into this category.
QMS has recently completed a project funded by the Scottish Government which saw specialists providing practical guidance to processors on harvesting and preparing the produce and optimising every part of an animal.
Scottish processors are now leading the UK in capitalising on fifth quarter opportunities and also developing overseas market opportunities for offal.
During the past two years (from 2008 –2010) Scottish red meat processors have turned the £2.2 million cost of safely disposing of non-carcase parts into a £13.3 million revenue stream – a £15.6 million improvement.
The QMS project also highlighted that offal harvesting and preparation to meet customer specifications could help generate an extra £3 million a year for the Scottish red meat industry.
By embracing the opportunity to recover and sell offal processors are gaining vital cash flow, saving expensive disposal costs and assisting with sustainability targets.
Laurent Vernet, Head of Marketing at QMS says: “Many people don’t realise that using more unusual cuts of meat can be both cost effective and really delicious.
“If you buy Scotch Lamb or Scotch Beef you can be confident that every part of the animal has been raised to the same world leading assurance standards - awarded the coveted PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status - guaranteeing traceability and quality.
“Nose-to-tail cooking is an environmentally friendly approach to eating and can be tasty and nutritious.
“Offal is an important part of our culinary heritage and provides a very tasty source of iron, protein and vitamins at a time when we are all looking for ways to be more economical and less wasteful.”
Chef Tom Kitchin says; “Nose-to-tail cooking is something that I’m passionate about and I love experimenting with different and unusual cuts to maximise flavours.
“Although some people are not familiar with eating offal, I think it’s incredibly tasty when cooked correctly.
“I have certainly noticed that our diners at the restaurant have become more adventurous over the years and seem to show a greater interest in eating out of their comfort zone.”
Examples of Tom Kitchin’s recipes and other recipes featuring offal can be found at www.scotchbeefandlamb.com and www.speciallyselectedpork.co.uk