Fergus Henderson: How to cook with offal
We spoke to Fergus Henderson to find out about his 'nose to tail' ethos towards cooking. Discover his favourite cuts of offal, how to cook it and what we should be requesting from our butchers...
For anyone who’s not familiar with it, could you explain your concept of ‘nose to tail’ dining, in a nutshell?
Fergus says: Nose to tail is not just about cooking whole parts of the animal, it’s about the technique you use and adding the right seasoning for the dish.
In terms of offal, liver is available in most supermarkets. What entry-level dish would you recommend for a first timer?
Fergus says: It depends on what texture of food you like to eat. All offal is delicious to me. The texture can be very different so it depends on how you cook it. There are no parts that are easier in comparison to others, because the technique of cooking and handling the parts are different.
If someone has an appetite to seek out something a little more unusual, what would you recommend?
Fergus says: Stomach.
Offal and cheap cuts of meat in some instances remain a hard sell. What do you say to the skeptics?
Fergus says: Each cut of meat tastes different. It can be very delicious if the dish is done well and prepared with extra care. The Chinese have always used the whole animal in cooking by adding different spices and sauces to make each dish unique.
Can you convince us of the virtues of tripe? How would one go about preparing it?
Fergus says: Tripe is a chewy dish, the texture is very similar to jelly,so it needs to be treated with extra care. Most offal dishes need to be prepared well before cooking. To me tripe is a very comforting kind of food. The tripe is the muscular lining of beef stomach, it's delectable and gelatinous.
Talk us through trotters – is it a case of boil and pick? Can you use trotters from any animal?
Fergus says: There are other kinds of trotters as well as pig's trotters. It just depends on how it is being preserved and cooked.
Offal, like kidney, is very strong-tasting, iron-rich and sometimes even bitter – how do you flavour-match that when developing a dish?
Fergus says: Match your flavours through adding pepper and spices to enrich the taste and cook it at the right temperature. Kidney is my favorite kind of birthday breakfast.
Your bone marrow salad is one of your signature dishes. Now everyone has caught on and ‘bone broth’ is the latest trend in healthy eating. How else can you cook with bones?
Fergus says: Risotto is one option, add the bone marrow to finish, this will add extra thickness to the texture of the dish. Or, put the bone marrow on a slice of toast and leave it to melt on top.
What’s your favourite way of serving brain?
Fergus says: Serving it on toast is always the best way to eat brain. It's really rich and cloudy, so served with crunchy toast it's very tasty.
We heard you’re a big fan of ox heart – could it become the new steak?
Fergus says: It could, depends on how it is being cooked. It's best simply sliced and left until the blood stops flowing, then add some simple seasoning and pan-fry it.
Which animal produces the best offal?
Fergus says: The pig.
You famously enjoy a glass of Fernet-Blanca for breakfast. Is this a daily occurrence? What would make for a perfect day of dining in your eyes?
Fergus says: Being in a good mood – the taste of the food related to how you feel when tasting it. A glass of Fernet-Blanca and devilled kidney is my kind of birthday breakfast.
How can we all cook like Fergus Henderson?
Fergus says: Enjoy what you are cooking and don’t be afraid, explore possibilities with all kinds of food.