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Scarti gourmet

Offal : ancient delicacy

Offals are those less noble parts of the bovine which are also called fifth quarter in reference to the four more traditional cuts that are mainly sold and consumed. They are further divided into two categories: white offal - those that are blanched before sale - and red offal - sold raw and without processing.

Let's take a brief overview of the most famous offal that we can find on the market and their use in the kitchen.

Reticolo and Tripe and Omaso

Primarily from beef or veal, the reticulum is one of the three forestomachs of the bovine. It is the leanest part of the tripe - together with the omasum - and has a characteristic lamellar structure, i.e. with countless white folds that resemble a spongy network.

Tripe, on the other hand, is the thickest part of the stomach and without fat: to be sautéed, fried or grilled it is an absolute delicacy. Furthermore, these offal are often sold together because they represent the main ingredients for the typical dish of the Milan area: Milanese tripe.

The brains

Offal that can disgust many people just thinking about it but which gives a very particular taste in the kitchen. In Italian cuisine, those of many animals are used: beef, veal, lamb and pork depending on the region we are in. Lamb brains are very delicate and a real must if eaten fried as per the Roman tradition, but however you cook them they are all delicious and melt in your mouth. Boiled, sautéed with butter and sage or simply fried with oil: a real treat!

The heart

The heart of beef , but also of veal, pork and poultry, is one of the main components that are part of the fifth quarter. It is a very "poor" cut but has characteristics very similar to those of muscle tissue. The hearts of chicken and lamb are very delicate, those of pork and beef are firmer and have a stronger flavour.

Due to its characteristics, the bovine heart lends itself more to very different cooking methods: short cooking at high temperatures, sautéed in a pan with butter and sage, long cooking at medium temperature or very long cooking at low temperatures such as stewing in a casserole.

The sweetbreads

Deriving from the thymus, the gland at the base of the neck, of veal and lamb, sweetbreads are the best part of offal, the most delicate and tender because it comes from the young animal and disappears in the adult. Composed of two parts: the nut, more refined, and the throat, normally intended for garnishing cured meats. Typically sweetbreads are served after being lightly blanched in milk and sautéed in a pan.

Piedmontese cuisine gives us two typical dishes that also include this refined cut: finanziera and mixed fry. Two recipes that make the most of what is obtained from the fifth quarter. Finanziera is prepared with veal offal (sweetbreads and backbone) or beef and other ingredients such as chicken livers and eggs. Piedmontese mixed fried food, on the other hand, is prepared with sweetbreads, brains, kidneys, liver and calf testicles.

The liver

Beef, veal, lamb, pork and poultry. What is certain is that it is the best known offal and the cut of meat that is part of the specialties of Italian cuisine, very delicious and nutritious, which has always been valorised to the fullest, together with tripe and other cuts of the fifth quarter, with recipes very tasty typical. Venetian beef liver is certainly a delicious dish, rich in flavor and the most famous throughout the world for its unmistakable and particular flavor which combines the strong and ferrous flavor of the liver with the delicacy of the onion.

The diaphragm

Many call the diaphragm of beef pannicolo or hanger steak, it belongs to the fifth quarter cuts which until a few years ago suffered unjustified discrimination: difficult to cook, unpresentable at the table, the remains of the animal. Beef, veal or pork, panniculus is the muscle that welds (and supports) the diaphragm to the ribs, it falls into the fifth quarter group as it is considered a waste cut, but only in Italy!

Italian inventiveness represents, above all a kitchen, a must have that many envy us. In Roman cuisine, for example, they choose the beef diaphragm to cook it pizzaiola or stew. In addition to the pizzaiola, you can choose the veal diaphragm - more delicate - to prepare tasty rolls or tasty burgers, after all the meat is made up of a high percentage of fat which represents a valid ally for bringing a juicy dish to the table.

The tongue

The tongue is part of the animal's "waste pieces", even though, among all offal, it is one of the most appreciated and rich in fat. Beef, veal, lamb or pork, the tongue is always present in the classic Cremonese or Bergamo mixed boiled meat ; where it is combined with the typical Cremonese mustard or the parsley-based green sauce. Of all of them, the best remains veal: the most delicate to serve raw or cooked.

Pickled tongue, boiled or fried: a thousand flavors and recipes for delicious offal. Do you want to find out how tongue is cooked? Read our article dedicated to all the ways in which you can cook the tongue and enhance this ancient and noble cut.


Beef, veal or pork tail is the basis of various soups and stews of Italian and overseas cuisine including the British Oxtail Soup, the Brazilian Rabada, the Spanish Rabo de Toro and the Philippine Kare-Kare. Beef and veal tail are both enjoyed after a long cooking and often sprinkled with red wine. Furthermore, cooking creates a good base, which has an intense flavor and is an ideal culinary binder. Pig's tail is usually served to accompany ears and feet. However, the recipe that we all know comes from Roman cuisine and is the typical Coda alla Vaccinara .

The marrow

Beef or veal marrow remains an undisputed delicacy. It can often be tasted directly from the stewed ossi bucco , in the typical Milanese risotto or simply enjoyed "with a spoon". Particularly appreciated for its high percentage of fat and a delicate taste, since ancient France moelle (marrow) derives from moelleux, the typical very tender desserts which were once prepared with bovine marrow.

In reality, as our grandparents taught us: "nothing of the animal is thrown away", for this reason there are an infinite number of cuts and recipes that we can make with offal. Snout and ears, kidneys, fourth stomach of beef, fat and pork stomach are parts that are considered "waste" in the cuisine of modern society and among the youngest. However, many chefs are rediscovering old recipes and re-proposing these simple dishes in a fresher and more modern way.

In Calabria, for example, Morzeddhu is eaten, a specialty that contains all the goodness of offal and served as a street food dish: all you need is some homemade Calabrian bread, seared and stuffed with sautéed veal offal (spleen, esophagus, lung, liver , tripe etc.). The oriental Japanese version, without bread, is Gopchang-gui. And you? Have you already tried some offal? Bovì has selected some of the finest cuts to let everyone enjoy these ancient flavours.