where & what

An Offal lot of Options here in Houston!

By Francine Spiering / Photography By Francine Spiering & Lauren Rothwell | June 22, 2017
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Anticuchos (skewered and grilled veal heart) from Latin Bites Cafe

Italians have an intriguing term for offal. They call it il quinto quarto, or the fifth quarter. It’s a poetic paradox: There is no “fifth” quarter, yet the butchered carcass is more than the four quarters of the dressed weight. The fifth quarter—which includes trotters, tails, heads, organs and blood—amounts to a good measure of meat that any meat lover should try. Where do you go for menudo? Had the best brains? Tell us your “fifth quarter” finds! Here are some of ours:

1. Heart at Latin Bites Café

5709 Woodway Dr.
Don’t wear your heart on a sleeve, wear it on a stick. Anticuchos—skewered and grilled pieces of veal heart—are a street food staple in Peru. The tender heart is marinated in anticuchero sauce, a mix of Peruvian chili, vinegar, spices and garlic, then sliced and grilled for that savory char. Anticuchos come with choclo (large and chewy corn kernels), roasted fingerling potatoes and two sauces: huacatay sauce (a Peruvian herb similar to tarragon or Mexican marigold) and a red bell pepper sauce. This tender heart gives beef tenderloin a run for its money!

Braised and charred tongue at Peli Peli

2. Tongue at Peli Peli

The Galleria, 5085 Westheimer Rd.
Any fan of well-seasoned, fork-tender beef will love this beef tongue. After an initial braise in stock, the tongue’s soft meat is sliced and— like steak—charred on the hot grill. The seasoning on the finished tongue steaks is the same as used for biltong, the South African version of jerky, and made in-house at Peli Peli. It is a spice blend that includes sugar, black pepper and coriander. The beef tongue steaks come with house-made whole-grain mustard and grilled corn on the cob.

Bone-marrow-filled Arancini

3. Bone Marrow from A Fare Extraordinaire

Chef Ryan Bouillet served these bone-marrow-filled arancini at the 2017 Rodeo Uncorked! Best Bites. Bone marrow—a fatty substance that fills the cavities of bones—has a buttery texture and meaty taste. If you ever sucked it out of a cooked bone you know how tasty bone marrow is. Chef Bouillet added smoked short rib and smoked mozzarella to the melting-soft bone marrow, stuffed it into risotto balls, breaded and then fried them crisp. While he created these bone marrow arancini especially for the Best Bites competition, Chef Bouillet said they can do them any time!

Fried liver and onions

4. Liver at Mi Pueblito

9425 Richmond Ave.
From the UK to the Levant, Venetian or Romanian style, fried in butter or olive oil, crispy bacon added or finished with a splash of wine: The combination of soft, sweet caramelized onions with the grainy texture of fried liver is a classic across cuisines. At Colombian restaurant Mi Pueblito fried liver and onions (higado encebollado) comes with steamed rice, fried plantain and beans.

Blood Sausage

5. Bloody Good

Here I’m veering a little off the format: Blood sausage under different names can be found at many different places: as boudin noir at Café Rabelais in Rice Village; as blood sausage at Polonia (Polish cuisine); as morcilla at many Latin American restaurants like Argentina Café. Look for morcilla from Colombia, Argentina and Spain at Phoenicia. Or find blood as a maroon-colored cube with the texture of silky tofu in a bowl of Bun Bo Hue at Kim Chau. It is congealed blood and perhaps the easiest and lowest-threshold way to try blood. It doesn’t taste like blood at all, rather (and the comparison continues) like tofu.

Article from Edible Houston at http://ediblehouston.ediblecommunities.com/eat/offal-lot-options-here-houston
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