Offal’s never awful for the Fourth of July! Thanks to All-American hot dogs, sandwich meat fans are guaranteed to knowingly (or unknowingly) enjoy certain animal parts in encased or tubular form from which some would run screaming, glimpsing the same parts in the natural state. Before we fire up the grill, line up the condiments, get the paper plates, and carry out the second case of beer, let’s take a look at some of these extremely tasty (if somewhat specialized) snacksandwich ingredients.
Chopped liver is the most frequently encountered snacksandwich variety meat. As there are as many different recipes for styles of chopped liver (homemade, or prepared) as there are for chili, the disagreements can be as sharp as those which exist between fanciers of Texas chili and those of Cincinnati chili (or California chili, or Larry Clark’s chili, or…), though firearms rarely play a role in chopped liver celebrations.
Here at Boo-Hooray, we suggest only that a blend of chicken and beef makes for richer flavor; that hard-boiled eggs should be avoided; that grebenes always add that certain je ne sais quoi; and that it never hurts to work some schmaltz into the liver, to maximize taste. (While maximizing cholesterol numbers as well, into the four or possibly five figures. Of course, you could also be hit by a bus, tomorrow.)
Liverwurst contains some liver, and many other unexpected yet tasty parts as well. If you are at Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, or at Amish markets in the greater Northeast; or at your local regional sausage-makers wherever you may be — that’s the kind to get.
Moving on to more readily recognizable organs: while grilled kidneys are generally the best way to go (be sure you read up on how to prepare them for cooking, or you’ll be sorry), there is nothing wrong with slapping a couple between slices of delicious, thick, whole grain bread.
The hard-to-find (but easy to enjoy, for those who like the taste of blood) spleen sandwich, a Sicilian favorite known in the old country as vastedda, is a marvelous thing; the spleen has something of the consistency and texture of a blood sausage with slightly thicker casing. Spleen, we must admit, is not for everyone.
Even more of an acquired taste is andouillette (not to be confused with Louisiana andouille), which can be sliced to provide the basis for another charming sausage sandwich on rustic bread, with appropriate condiments. We must point out that as this particular sausage is made from, well, mostly large intestines, some will likely refer to this sandwich with the same two words used by a pithy reviewer in This Is Spinal Tap. (Lovers of chitterlings should have no problem.)
The Golden Age of the Fried Brain Sandwich is long past. As recently as the early 1980s they were a St. Louis specialty, but when BSE and Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease hit they began dropping from menus, fast. There is still one old school place in St. Louis which serves them, as does another in Evansville, IN. There may be more — tell us if you know!
Last but far from least: lamb testicles are as delicate in taste as sweetbreads (this is not the case with those of mutton, or goat). An old favorite is to lightly bread them, fry them gently, and serve with cream gravy — in Kentucky and elsewhere, the dish is called lamb fries. While they’re generally served as an appetizer, or main dish, it is easy to imagine them in a lovely po’boy sandwich New Orleans style, a la an oyster po’boy.
We plan to try them this way, next time around. You may, or may not. But have a safe and sane Fourth, in any event!