In the Kitchen
Trying out tripe
By Lucas Crawford
By Lucas Crawford
At Colicchio & Sons, celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s latest eatery,
many visitors have been passing up fancy eats for something rather low
on the culinary world’s food chain: tripe.
At Colicchio & Sons, celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s latest eatery, many visitors have been passing up fancy eats for something rather low on the culinary world’s food chain: tripe. But not just any tripe, of course: tripe pizza with shishito peppers and ramps (a type of onion). If this restaurant – appropriately located in New York’s meat-packing district – is serving up this dish to rave reviews, can a full-force offal comeback be far behind?
Call it variety meat, organ meat, guts or gizzards, but yes, a new generation of chefs are calling it dinner. Any way you slice it, offal seems to have gained a certain cultural cache with both the cliques of haute cuisine and the food TV fans that try to recreate foodie culture at home. In the grand style of formerly lowly foods being appropriated and recreated (just think of Daniel Boulud’s famous $100 plus hamburger) offal seems ripe for a renaissance. A quick glance at food TV confirms the presence of the trend. We’ve witnessed Top Chef Masters’ offal challenge, which saw eventual winner Rick Bayless successfully sling beef heart tacos to unsuspecting passersby. We’ve seen Iron Chef America’s “Battle Offal,” where every bit – from calves’ livers to cockscombs – was fair game. Chef Chris Cosentino lost to Iron Chef Michael Symon, but you can’t say he didn’t have heart – his appetizer featured it.
But why should these organs meet their end on a pizza crust? Several reasons present themselves. There is a reason your parents bought liver, despite your protestations: offal is cheap. At a time when sustainability, buying local, and eating “green” are the hot trends, cooking and eating “nose to tail” bespeaks a popular world view. Offal seems responsible, and perhaps even cool. Challenging palates and expectations are gutsy moves. Offal gets people talking.
When Chicago outlawed foie gras in 2006, local eatery Connie’s Pizza protested the controversial ban by selling pizzas topped with the luxury offal.
Canada, however, boasts what is probably the best-known offal pizza, with a distinct Québécois flair. Martin Picard of Au Pieds de Cochon in Montreal recently retired his tripe pizza – which far predated Colicchio’s – in favour of a dish simply called PDC Pizza on the menu. Employing his usual mix of rustic unpretentious country fare with high-quality products, Picard offers pizza-lovers a generous portion of food that lacks neither offal nor decadence. This pizza proves that these words need not be mutually exclusive. It features puff pastry, potatoes, cheddar, blood sausage, and foie gras.
Pizza makers, after all, know an invaluable truth: pizza never goes out of style. Some foods, however, do have a life cycle. Like big bangs and bell-bottoms, foods and tastes change according to the whimsies of fashions, from au courant politics to temporary budget crises. Whether offal comes or goes is too early to say. But why not try it on while it’s poised for a revival?
Veal Liver Pizza with Caramelized Shallots, Bacon, and Smoked Cheddar
Pour the vinegar mixture over the softened shallots while they are still in the pan. Allow these to reduce until no liquid remains in the pan.
Mix the caramelized shallots into the tomato sauce. Roll out the dough onto a well-greased pizza pan and spread with the sauce. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle it on top. Top with the mozzarella cheese and then the smoked cheddar. Bake at 450 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes. Prepare the liver while the pizza is baking.
Season the veal liver with salt and pepper. Thinly slice it and then coat it very lightly with flour. In a clean pan, fry the liver over very high heat for 30 to 40 seconds per side. The cooked liver should be pink on the inside but brown on the outside. Arrange the fried liver pieces over the top of the cooked pizza right before serving. Press them lightly into the melted cheese.