Offal Q&A with Chris Cosentino
An offal conversation with Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto
It’s difficult to believe there’s offal that Chef Chris Cosentino hasn’t tried, but he has a Holy Grail checklist dish too. Find out what it is, his go-to recipe, his Top 5 restaurants for offal beyond his own (Incanto in San Francisco), and advice for how home cooks should best source offal in this Q&A.
Besides your restaurant what are your five favorite places to eat offal?
What’s your favorite go-to offal recipe?
I really like the flavor and texture of heart. I find it to have a real deep and complex flavor that lends itself to many different cooking techniques.
Most complicated offal recipe?
Cooking offal takes a lot of time and patience. These cuts require focus and specific techniques to achieve the best flavor possible. Certain cuts need rinsing and soaking. Others need to be peeled. It's all about knowing how to handle each cut; once you do that the possibilities are endless. These cuts take time—it's not like a steak that you season with salt and pepper then throw on the grill.
Is there a Holy Grail offal dish you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t been able to whether it’s because of availability or some other reason?
There is this dish in Rome called Pajata. They braise the intestines of a young lamb or goat with its mother’s milk in them, which turns the milk into cheese.
Where have you found is the best place from which to source your offal?
I purchase all my offal from Prather Ranch Meat Co. The ranches they work with are sustainable and certified as humane. I have visited the ranches and know where the meat is coming from and how it is handled. I have been working with these folks for 8 years. I was their first wholesale account.
Where's the best place for the home cook to source offal from?
Develop a relationship with your local butcher. Explore farmers’ markets and meat CSA’s in your area. You never know what you might find.
Is there any offal that you typically find it difficult to get a hold of?
I find that there are cuts of meat which are going away fast, I would like to get skin-on calf's head, but it's illegal in the state of California. Lungs are not legal in the US, which is sad.
What's the next hot offal ingredient?
Just the fact that more chefs and home cooks are using offal every day is hot.
What's the most overused offal ingredient?
There is no overused offal. There should be more because every meat animal has guts as well as primal cuts. The most common offal is foie gras or liver, but people don't think of that as offal because it's been common for years.
Is there any offal you don't like?
Not that I've found yet.