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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Odd Bits Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal, Jennifer McLagan encourages us to use the whole animal. She reminds us about all the parts we forget about in favor of the few prime cuts found on supermarket shelves.

With great expertise this award-winning author guides us through all of the different bits: ears, brains, cockcombs, cheeks, necks, livers, hearts, lungs, stomachs, thymus glands (also known as sweetbreads), kidneys, bone marrow, testicles, trotters, and even blood.

McLagan makes these odd bits sound delectable with recipes like Moroccan-Style Braised Heart, Ravioli of Brains and Morels, Spicy Tongue Tacos, Testicles with Caramelized Onions and Double-Smoked Bacon, and Whole Lamb Neck with Lemons, Olives, and Mint.

Adventurous eaters will appreciate the recipes for Heart Tartare, Twice-Cooked Pig's Ear Salad, Pistachio Brain Souffles, Terrine of Pig's Feet, and Chocolate Blood Ice Cream.

Personally, I'm looking forward to making Wild Boar Shanks with Cranberries and Chocolate (page 184), Bone Marrow and Mushroom Custard (page 193), Confit of Gizzards (page 149), and Boudin Noir (page 219).

Boudin Noir is also known as blood sausage and I was first introduced to it by my husband's family on the Caribbean island of Martinique. I was a vegetarian at the time, just starting to incorporate some seafood into my diet, but I wasn't eating meat. I didn't really know what boudin noir was, just that there was no meat inside, and never did I imagine it was made with blood. It's a good thing I didn't know because at the time it would have prevented me from trying it, and it was love at first bite.

I don't get the chance to eat boudin noir very often, but I do whenever I can. It's a popular dish in several cultures and every family has their own recipe. I've tasted it in many different countries but I've never better boudin noir than what we eat in Martinique, where it's made with a hint of cinnamon and it's soft enough to squeeze out of the casing. Now I'm excited to try making my own.

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