Offal Food

Rice and Offal Sausages: Slovak Jaterničky

Slovak Jaternicky rice and offal sausages

Next of the products made from a traditional Slovak pig butchering is jaterničky (ya-ter-nich-ky), sausages stuffed with rice, offal, and various herbs. The idea of eating offal is hard for many to digest but with these sausages, I promise you would never know you were eating any untoward parts of a pig.

Seriously, if you have trouble with the thought of the taste of organs, this is the recipe to try (well, besides my amazing beef liver pate, that doesn’t taste strong at all).

If you’ve butchered an animal but not known what to do with the organs, especially the lungs, honestly try this. I do not like lung, I tried it once and was not impressed; in jaternicky, any offal taste is not even detected.  Click to continue reading

How to Cook Brains: Slovak Mozgy

How to Eat Brains Slovak Mozgy

When at a Slovak zabijačka (za-bee-yach-ka), a family pig slaughtering, the first food to be cooked is lunch. Without fail, my mother in law makes mozgy, a dish containing the brains and spinal cord.

When planning to blog about zabijačka, I wanted to post exact recipes. This, however, was not possible due to a number of factors, like helping out and taking care of children, but most of all because nobody has any idea of how much of an ingredient they use. If I’m lucky, amounts are given in handfuls, sprinkles, and pours.

“Mami, how much onion did you put in?” I ask.

“Oh, I don’t know, until it looks good. However much the butcher says.” my mother in law answers.  Click to continue reading

Bone Broth Slovak Sunday Soup

 

Bone Broth Slovak Sunday Soup

This soup makes an appearance every Sunday at my mother in law’s, and now at my house. The clear broth is made with bones, but there is a secret to making sure that the broth stays clear and not cloudy! We call it Sunday soup, although in Slovak it doesn’t really have a name, just ‘soup.’ The broth warms the stomach, aids digestion for the meal to follow, and provides a host of nutrients. It also appears as the first course at weddings and any celebratory occasion when people eat together.   Click to continue reading

A Slovak Pig Butchering: Part I, The Setup and Process

Slovak Pig Butchering

One of the qualities that I enjoy about Slovakia is how many traditions are still observed in rural areas, whether it be folk singing and dancing, draft horse competitions, or lighting cemeteries up with candles.

Some of these traditions are cultural and remeniscent of the past; others are born from survival. In December, my husband’s parents had zabíjačka (za bee yach ka), killing the family pig.

In the not so distant past, everybody in the village had a pig. It was necessary for survival. Now its less common though still practiced, particuarly by older people.

I grew up on a farm in Canada, but the style of slaughter is very different. In my experience, a number of animals were slaughtered at once but not much was done with it. The meat would be cut up (after hanging if beef) and stored in the freezer. I remember making sausages once at my grandparents and the smoke house in use, but it certainly wasn’t the same day as butchering.

In Slovakia, one, max two, pigs are killed and a variety of goods are made that same day. Many of the recipes use up the organs, so that you can’t even tell when you eat it. Everything is used, besides the toenails, contents of the intestines, and ear drums. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share those recipes here at Almost Bananas. Today, it’s about the set up of how they do it, which I think is fascinating.

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Simple (and Best) Liver Pâté

This easy liver pâté is delicious, thanks to an unusual spice that does away with the liver taste. Even beef liver can be used for a nutritious spread, perfect for a snack or meal addition. 

Best Liver Pate

Most people love to hate liver. Texture, taste, smell, it is not one of the more appetizing foods. There are some edified people who love liver, but they are a special minority.

Even though I do not belong to the elect liver lovers, the nutritional profile keeps bringing me back to it. Being high in many B vitamins, especially B12, and vitamin A, liver also apparently improves energy levels, or at least improves endurance. In the 50’s an experiment with rats showed that rats who ate liver were able to swim anywhere from one to two hours (when the experiment ended) as opposed to an average of 13 minutes. (Yes, they let the rats sink, yes, it was inhumane but the information is still valid, no, I don’t have a source because it’s late but if you ask me I’ll dig it up). And we could all use a little more energy, no?

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Beef Tongue Spread (2 Recipes)

Last week I posted Simple Beef Tongue and promised a recipe for those wanting a less visual version of tongue. Here it is: beef tongue spread. Meat spreads, similar to liverwurst, are very popular in Slovakia. This can be used like tuna or salmon spread, and can go in sandwiches, on vegetables, or even be used as a dip.

Beef Tongue Spread (2 Recipes)

This weekend we went to a gypsy festival, where a local charity organized drama and music presentations of this ethnic minority. I’ll tell you more about later this week.

I came there to enjoy the music and take pictures for you all to see. I took some photos, but not nearly as many as I hoped. I choked.

I’m not good at taking photographs at events anyway. “Wait while I obscure your view, person behind me, of this very special moment so I can take a picture.” My preferred lens at events is a super telephoto, so that I can get a picture without anybody seeing me. But there was another reason.

See, there were a number of other people there with fancy schmancy cameras with mega lenses and I was embarrassed to take out my dinosaur camera and it’s itty bitty lens.  Click to continue reading

Simple Beef Tongue

Eating beef tongue sounds gross, but once you get over the squeamishness, you’ll discover a cheap, tasty cut of meat that is ridiculously easy to prepare. I’ll let you know the secret to the best way of eating tongue too! 

Simple Beef Tongue

 

Cold sliced beef tongue with sandwich stuff.

Things were quiet here last week as I was gone on holiday. I thought I would be able to get a post up, but decided to relax and enjoy my family instead. We went to beautiful Gaming, Austria (I’ve written about it before) with some friends. Random photos will be forthcoming on my facebook page and instagram (user name: almostbananas).

Driving home, we watched an awe inspiring lightning storm. The whole sky lit up, bolts of pure energy piercing the night sky, and as we got closer to home we could see the silhouette of the hills with each flash.

As long as I am safely at home, I love thunder storms. It never ceases to amaze me that such a display of power can result from electrons jumping around (basically). I love the flashes of light, the thunder, the pounding rain. Here in Slovakia, it’s a welcome cooling to a hot, humid day.  Click to continue reading

Sweet Beef Heart Curry

Sweet Beef Heart Curry

If you’ve continued to read on after the title, congratulations – it means that you haven’t keeled over from the thought of eating a heart, as in, the organ. If you’ve only risen from keeling over, you might want to skip this post, although nutritionally speaking you’ll be sorry if you do.

If you’re actually interested in eating a beef heart, I heartily toast you as being an adventurous eater, at least if you are from North America. To most of the rest of the world, I think, eating organs is no big deal. Click to continue reading