Also indexed as: Brains, Heart, Kidneys, Liver, Organ Meats,
Pig’s Feet, Sweetbreads (Thymus Gland), Tail, Tongue, Tripe
Preparation, uses, and tips
Before cooking brains, blanch them briefly to firm them, or soak in several changes of
cold, acidulated water, made by adding a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice to water. Sweetbreads should be
soaked in several changes of acidulated water for best flavor.
Remove membranes or excess fat from the exterior of specialty meats. Split kidneys and
remove fatty tissue and veins. Scrub tongue. To disjoint oxtail, cut into sections with a
sharp knife; avoid cutting the bones.
Slice sweetbreads, brains, heart, or liver and dredge in flour and spices if desired. Heat
butter or oil in a skillet. Sauté over medium heat until brown on each side and done in
Heat cooking liquid with herbs, spices, and vegetables in a Dutch oven. Add brains, heart,
kidneys, tripe, tongue, oxtail, or pig’s feet (it is best to use just one type of meat
at a time). Cover and cook in the oven at 325°F (160°C), or simmer on the stovetop
from 45 minutes to three hours, depending on variety meat used.
Bring court bouillon (broth or wine with vegetables or herbs) or cooking liquid to a
simmer. Add brains or sweetbreads and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Drain and
Arrange split kidneys on skewers and brush with oil and seasonings. Place on a broiling pan
3 inches (7.6cm) from the heat source. Broil until brown on the outside but still tender on
the inside, approximately 5 minutes on each side
Place liver in a dish and cook on High for 7 to 8 minutes per pound. Place heart in a dish,
add broth, cover, and cook on High 45 to 50 minutes per pound (454g). Place kidneys in a
shallow baking dish and cook on High 11 to 12 minutes per pound (454g). Place oxtail in a
shallow baking dish, cook on high for 5 minutes, turn, and cook another 6 to 8 minutes. Add
water, cover, and cook 6 to 8 minutes. Put tongue in a casserole with cooking liquid and cook
on Medium until tender, about 70 minutes for 2 1/2 pounds (1.125 kg). Place brains in a
casserole and cover with broth. Cook 6 to 8 minutes on High, then 10 to 12 minutes on Medium.
Drain, dredge with bread crumbs, and cook another 5 minutes on High. Cover sweetbreads with
cold water and cook on High until boiling. Drain, add broth and butter, cover, and cook
another 3 to 5 minutes on Medium.
Variety meats include beef, pork, lamb, and poultry liver, kidneys, sweetbreads (thymus
gland), brains, heart, tongue, tripe, feet, and tail. Generally variety meats from young
animals are milder and more tender than those from older animals.
Liver and heart are available frozen as well as fresh.
Tongue is available fresh, pickled, corned, and smoked.
Sweetbreads consist of two lobes—the throat lobe and the heart lobe. The heart lobe
has a more delicate taste and texture.
Tripe, the lining of a cows’ stomach, comes in three kinds: honeycomb, pocket, and
plain or smooth tripe. Honeycomb is considered the most tender.
Pigs feet, or trotters, are available fresh, pickled, and smoked.
Heart, chicken, 1 heart (raw)
Total Fat: 0.57g
Liver, chicken, 1 liver (raw)
Total Fat: 1.23g
*Excellent source of: Selenium (20.5mcg), Folate (236mcg), and Vitamin A (6,575 IU)
*Good source of: Iron (2.74mg)
Brains, beef, 4 oz. (113g) (raw)
Total Fat: 10.5g
*Excellent source of: Niacin (5.2mg), Vitamin B12 (12.3mcg), and Vitamin C (18.7mg)
*Good source of: Iron (2.4mg)
Kidneys, beef, 4 oz. (113g) (raw)
Total Fat: 3.5g
*Excellent source of: Iron (8.3mg), Vitamin B12 (30.5mcg), Vitamin A (994 IU), and Folate (90.4mcg)
Tongue, beef, 4 oz. (113g) (raw)
Total Fat: 18.2g
*Excellent source of: Zinc (3.2mg), Niacin (4.8mg), and Vitamin B12 (4.3 mcg)
Tail, Ox (soup), 1 packet (74g) (dehydrated,
Total Fat: 10.1g
*Good source of: Niacin (3.3mg), and Vitamin B12 (0.74)
Feet, pork, 1/2 foot (95g) (raw)
Total Fat: 17.8g
Sweetbreads (thymus), 4 oz. (113g) (raw)
Total Fat: 23g
*Excellent source of: Vitamin C (38mg), and Vitamin B12 (2.4mcg)
*Good source of: Iron (2.3mg), and Zinc (2.3mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular
nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good
source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily