Offal and more

steak-n-kidney-pieOffal can be rather polarising – some people absolutely adore it, others; quite the opposite – there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of middle ground. In fact, offal is served regularly in restaurants in various forms, so maybe it may be time to introduce it to the doubters at your table!

There were times gone by (usually during periods of world famine and severe deprivation!) that animal offal was a common nourishment. Nowadays, at least in New Zealand, it’s generally thought that offal is food more likely to be served to pets, than people – but not so.

Lill from Whangarei considers it a special treat and looks forward to a weekly serving of tongue from her supermarket delicatessen.

For many, the thought of eating lamb brains or ox tongue may be a bit hard to digest(!), but in the spirit of oily rag culinary adventures, we thought we’d suggest some recipes for you to try!

Lambs brains – Place the brains in a pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes before removing the water. Cut into bite-size potions. Coat each one with flour, dip into a beaten egg then into bread crumbs to cover, and deep fry until golden brown. Serve with a splash of lemon, and greens from your garden. Another way is to dip in batter and deep fry.

Ox tongue – Give the tongue a good wash (use water not mouth wash!). Place the tongue into a slow cooker and add just enough water to cover it. Instead of water, you can use beef stock, red wine or a mixture of the two. Throw in a sliced onion, carrot, celery, some garlic gloves, and a bay leaf. Cook on low for about eight hours (!) or on high for 4 hours. Once cooked, remove the tongue and leave to cool, then take a small knife and remove the outer skin. Slice the tongue and serve cold or re-heat in the cooking liquid.

Liver – Liver is an incredible source of iron. When pan fried it goes well in a cooked breakfast with mushrooms, bacon, hash browns, baked beans, fried tomatoes, and breakfast sausages! Here’s what you do. Slice the liver into thin strips. Place in a bowl and cover with milk and leave to soak for a couple of hours. Then drain the slices, dip into flour, and pan fry in butter on a medium heat until each side is brown.

Other offal favourites include fried kidneys or a steak and kidney pie, ox tail soup, tripe and onions, black pudding, and of course, mountain oysters!

Now to the oily rag mail bags.

Alice from Putaruru writes, “White vinegar is my cleaner of choice for the whole house: windows, bath, shower, anywhere and everywhere”.

Mel from Whakatane has this tip. “To save cooking time, you can buy a cold cooked chicken from PaknSave for about $7. Any leftovers can be frozen for use later.”

J from Whangarei writes, “Instead of buying a Piñata for a kid’s birthday, we made one. It’s easy. Coat an inflated balloon with paper mache, with the final coat being white paper. Leave an area at bottom large enough to put goodies in. When dry pop the balloon and attach a string to the top. Place goodies in then paper mache up the bottom. When dry have the birthday boy or girl paint and decorate the outside. There you are – a no cost piñata. All that’s now needed is a big whacker and some club-wielding children!”


By Frank and Muriel Newman. Read more here. 

You can share favourite tips or questions with readers by contacting us via the website at or by writing to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.