When I saw a pig’s spleen in person for the first time, all
I could think of was, “That looks like a giant purple leech.” It was at Mosefund Farm’s Pigstock
we’re sorting out the organs from the evisceration. The spleen looked strange, alien, and something
that would taste very strong and require some precise cooking technique to cook. Thankfully, I was totally wrong.
Some writers categorize offal into two groups; white and
red. "White" would be the sweetbreads,
brains, tripe, testicles, and feet. "Red" would be
the liver, heart, tongue, spleen, kidneys and (of course) blood. Of all of the red offal, spleen is probably
the mildest. Spleens are long, flat, and
have a thin membrane surrounding them. A
small amount of fat and connective tissue is on the back side. Biologically, spleens are used to filter
blood, remove iron from blood, produce antibodies, and hold a reservoir of
blood in case of major hemorrhaging. Meteorologically,
spleens are used by farmers to predict weather six months down the line. Really.
You can even buy a t-shirt.
Unfortunately, spleens are small (often a pound or less) and oft-neglected, so they're often thrown out at the abattoir. So when I saw one from Northwoods Ranch
, I snapped it up. I knew just how I wanted
to cook it; on toast. Sure, the initial
photos of a spleen look pretty intimidating, but how hard can anything be that
you spread on toast? This was actually a
recipe served to us at Pigstock, made by Christoph Wiesner’s wife, Isabell. Just poach the spleen in stock, scratch the
soft spleen from the outer membrane, season with cream, white pepper, salt, and
nutmeg. Serve on toast. I copped her idea and floated the toast on
some reserved broth, which made this humble dish look very deluxe.
But that’s it - dead simple.
The spleen is mild, savory, and doesn't carry the strong iron flavor
you’d find in liver. And it’s really
hard to mess up. Trust me, I did. I cut through part of the membrane too much
and completely severed off an end of the spleen. But with a firm membrane and soft center, I
realized I could just rub the loose bit of spleen in a mesh strainer to sieve
the edible spleen from the tough membrane.
You could actually do the entire spleen that way, if you wanted. Although if you’re cooking marble-sized
chicken spleens, you don’t really need to take off the membrane. I just eat them whole, like the liver or
2 comments :
My Mother used to serve us ground spleen on toast when I was little. The recipe that came from her Great Aunt in Austria. It is simple to make and addicting, especially when I run a little anemic. Pork spleen is best but calf spleen is also good, and if beef is similar if not too old an animal. Just clean the veins and fat from the underside and cut in sections to make it easier to grind in food processor. No need to remove the membrane. Then I put about 3/8" thick spread on a buttered slice of bread and salt well. Bake at 350 for about 12 mins. until cooked through to your preference. I prefer medium to medium rare and put a little butter on top to melt. The ground mixture can be frozen or stored in fridge for a few days. Enjoy!
Thanks so much for the comment and recipe! That sounds like a great savory snack for a cold afternoon. I will definitely give that a try!
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