This blog is a place to share my passion for cooking and inspire people to cook more from scratch. With six people in the family, cooking is something that is always on my mind. I want to share some of my favorite foods and recipes and share more about traditional diets (like the kind of food our great, great, great grandmothers would have made). Right now I am fascinated with fermented vegetables, coconuts, seafood with a cerviche twist and organ meats... although maybe not all in the same meal!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

History in my Hands

Menu (50's or early 60's) from NYC's Luchow's
Here’s a shout out to my friend Boykin who says she wants to see what I am going to do with organ meats.  Well, before we go forward, it is always good to learn from the past.  I am fascinated by all the wonderful books my in-laws have in their home and usually read several  when I visit.  A few years ago, a cookbook about a famous German restaurant in New York City called Luchow’s caught my eye.  As I read the book written by Jan Mitchell, who bought the famous Luchow’s restaurant in the 1950’s, I was taken back in time.     
    It appears that the menu hardly changed in all 100 years of operation so the items on this menu from the 50‘s or 60‘s were the same dishes that people like Andrew Carnegie,  J.P. Morgan, Helen Hayes, Cole Porter and John Barrymore ate when they visited the restaurant.  (Mitchell’s book says all these people ate here often)  In addition to some of the specialties in the photo, I saw things like Chopped Chicken Livers ($1.00) and Sliced Tenderloin of Beef and Kidneys ($4.75).  The cookbook even has a recipe for Pickled Beef Head Salad where fresh boned beef heads and veal knuckles marinate in water, salt and saltpeter for one week on their way to being prepared.  If these fine folks considered this to be THE place for great German food, why do current generations shudder at the thought of any organ meats?  It seems to me another example of how we’ve lost our way on our quest to make everything faster, better and “new.”  Can you imagine any restaurant today taking a week to prepare anything before it was served?  I don’t know if these people took the time to think about it, but by regularly eating organ meats past populations were getting a steady supply of nutrients that people nowadays often get from a synthetic vitamin... things like vitamin D, vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and selenium, vitamin A, iron, zinc, copper and manganese.  Care, of course, must be taken to eat only the organs of healthy animals that were raised on pasture as nature intended.
    But let’s take baby steps.  I doubt I’ve got anyone who will be hitting me up for the calves’ brain recipe but the LEBER KLOSSE MIT SAUERKRAUT (Liver Dumplings and Sauerkraut) looks like something of interest.  Ingredients include 1 lb beef, 1 lb pork loin, 1/2 pound veal, 1/2 lb pork or calves’ liver, 2 tbs chopped shallots, 2 cloves garlic chopped, 2 eggs beaten, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, Boiling water, 3 lbs heated sauerkraut, 6 onions sliced thin, fried in, and 2 tbs butter.
    Grind the beef, pork, veal and liver together twice.  Combine the shallots, garlic, eggs and seasonings.  Stir until mixture is well blended.  Form into small balls.  Cook in salted boiling water 10 minutes.  (water must be boiling rapidly, add 1 tsp salt to each quart of water).  Lift liver balls out on a slotted spoon.  Serve on hot sauerkraut garnished with fried onions. Serves 6 or more.  Enjoy!   

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