World Chefs: McLagan savors the odd bits others shun

Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:47pm EST
 
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Jennifer McLagan doesn't necessarily want to shock readers with her new cookbook "Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal" but she's really good at doing just that.

In the first recipe called Headcheese for the Unconvinced she explains how to shave or singe the little hairs off a pig's head before submerging it in brine with its cut-off ear and foot.

McLagan, the Australian-born chef, food stylist, journalist and award-winning author of "Bones" and "Fat," is just as comfortable with other unfashionable dishes, including brain fritters, chocolate blood ice cream and crispy testicles.

Nose-to-tail eating is not for the faint of heart, but McLagan appeals to meat lovers' moral goodness by promoting respect for the whole animal, including the tasty odds and ends that are often discarded or destined for dog food.

Toronto-based McLagan spoke to Reuters from Paris, where she lives part-time, about how to get over the fear factor and why these cheaper and challenging cuts of meat are beloved by grandmothers and top chefs worldwide.

Q: Does "Odd Bits" complete the carnivorous trilogy of culinary outcasts you've championed?

A: "I think so, skin is too small a book and I've got skin in all of them already. Maybe I'll just get them bound in velum, that'll do it for me. Then I'll move on to "101 Things to Do with Tofu." No, no I'm just kidding. I'll find another unpopular topic and take that, but I think I've kind of finished meat for a while, that's for sure."

Q: Do you think some chefs have pushed the nose-to-tail philosophy too far?   Continued...

 
<p>The cover of "Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal" by Jennifer McLagan is seen in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters. McLagan, the Australian-born chef, food stylist, journalist and award-winning author of "Bones" and "Fat," is just as comfortable with other unfashionable dishes, including brain fritters, chocolate blood ice cream and crispy testicles. To match Reuters Lifestyle! FOOD-CHEFS/MCLAGAN REUTERS/Leigh Beisch/Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc./Handout</p>