You Should Know

May 2016 Issue

Popular Dishes

Look for some of these trendy, whole animal dishes at your local hotspot:

- Kidneys in Sherry Sauce

- Stuffed Beef Heart

- Sautéed Sweetbreads

- Chicken Liver Paté

- Duck Liver Fois Gras

- Head Cheese, or Country Paté

Snout-to-Tail Eating

Snout-to-tail eating, where the entire animal is used, is an outgrowth of many current food trends, though it’s been around since the dawn of time. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Culinary Forecast, this interest may be seen in a number of trends, including today's focus on local meats, new cuts of meat, artisan butchery, house-made sausages, and food waste reduction. Americans have been behind the global community when it comes to embracing the whole animal, including offal, organs, brain, tongue, and more. But we’re gaining ground.

The concept applies to all animal proteins—even seafood—in which a variety of parts are used, such as cod cheek, duck charcuterie, and lamb heart. But does this eating style offer benefits?

Potential Benefits

Using the whole animal can help reduce food costs and waste, and open new ideas for tasty, nutrient-rich cuisine. Organ meats are rich in high quality protein and vitamin B12. They also are good sources of riboflavin, phosphorous, and selenium. Different specialty cuts can have a range of benefits. Beef heart is muscle like a traditional sirloin steak and has similar nutrients, but tends to be lower in fat. Animal brain offers DHA, important for brain health.



Whether you call it Charcuterie or Salume, it often uses the whole animal and is a popular example of snout-to-tail eating.

Potential Concerns

There is some nutrition fallout from various animal parts, however. For example, brain is very high in cholesterol: over 2,000 milligrams for a 3-ounce serving. And cured meats and charcuterie, like bacon and sausage, are often high in sodium and saturated fats.

What about safety? By law, all meat must be inspected. Chefs that offer these special cuts and delicacies have had considerable training in safe handling and storage. If serving at home, safe meat handling rules apply: make sure meat is tightly wrapped when purchased, cooked to recommended temperatures, and stored at proper temperatures.

Enjoy the Trend

The snout-to-tail trend is something worth enjoying, in moderation. But while you may be finding more unusual animal parts served in restaurants, it might be more challenging to find these in your local market. Fewer professional butchers in markets today means a lack of experience in isolating specific cuts, and until the demand grows markets are less likely to provide them. Ethnic markets and local, independent butchers are often the best source.

Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN