What An Offal Week It's Been

Written by Katie Parla on April 10, 2012

It’s weeks like this that I am glad I don’t have a doctor’s appointment looming on the horizon. A routine cholesterol check would certainly turn up lethal levels brought on by obsessive offal consumption. But what can I do? It’s baby goat and lamb season and I couldn’t possibly squander the precious springtime slaughter. While most people in Rome and many in Istanbul are gnawing on lamb chops and shanks, I have spent the past 10 days with friends and clients eating up all the cheap cuts and organ meats.

It started with a trip to Sütlüce in Istanbul. This neighborhood on the Golden Horn was once home to the city’s slaughterhouse and is still known for its restaurants specializing in uykuluk (lamb sweetbreads). Last week my friend Şemsa and I paid a visit to Sadrazam Mahmut Et Lokantası for an offal potpourri. We started with stuffed intestines then moved on to grilled sweetbreads, kidneys, and testicles.

The next day at Şemsa’s restaurant, I had one of the best dishes of my life, kokoreç, braided and roasted lamb intestines, served on fat-soaked toast. The plate deserves its own post, coming soon.

Kokoreç is served in Istanbul year-round, though many spots serve mutton intestines instead of the spring lamb innards. The difference is stunning. Lamb kokoreç is tender and nearly sweet, not gamey like its older counterpart. Kokoreç can be seen hanging in butcher windows alongside other poor cuts like tongue.

Liver was on the menu during the Istanbul Eats Kebab Krawl in Little Urfa. Tiny chuncks of fat and bits of (unfortunately overcooked) liver were served with warm lavash.

Back in Rome, I snacked on a trapizzino (pizza bianca pocket) stuffed with coratella (lamb heart, lungs and liver sauteed with artichokes) at 00100 in Testaccio.

More coratella, this time made from goat innards, was on the menu Wednesday night at Hande and Theo’s>/a> place. They had gotten a whole goat at Bottega Liberati for Easter lunch. This animal, fondly named “Matteo”, would be roasted for 10.5 hours on Easter Sunday. But its guts were the first to go, sauteed with three massive globe artichokes.

Matteo’s head was split open and roasted as well. His creamy brains made a fine spread.

Fast forward to Sunday and, while Matteo cooked, I lunched at Checchino dal 1887 with visiting friends, who tried and liked loved pajata, the intestines of milk-fed lambs. Checchino does pajata so right. Now if only they hadn’t overcooked my pasta by about five minutes…

Leave the pasta perfection to Arcangelo, who proves once and for all that offal can be both beautiful and elegant with his tagliatelle with chicken gizzards.

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