5@5 - Chef and Writer Ian Knauer
August 12th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Ian Knauer is spending most of his time these days developing recipes for his upcoming cookbook based on his family’s farm in Pennsylvania where he hunts, keeps a garden and a bee hive. (You can follow along on his blog, "Big City Country Boy.")

He honed his cooking and writing chops at 'Gourmet' magazine from 2001 to 2009, where he co-hosted the magazine’s award-winning television series, 'Diary of a Foodie,' and the most recent show, 'Adventures with Ruth.' He wrote extensively for 'Gourmet' and Gourmet.com until the close of the brand in late 2009.

If you’re eating at a table with Ian, there’s a strong chance he’ll serve you something as delicious as it is strange.

5 Unlikely Animal Parts You NEED To Learn How To Cook ... 'Cause They’re Awesome: Ian Knauer

1. Chicken hearts
“You’ll find chicken hearts at almost every butcher’s counter (if not they can order them for you). They’re super-cheap, and when grilled, they taste like meat candy. In South America, you’ll find them skewered, sprinkled with coarse salt and grilled until they’re just pink on the inside. Every single person who tries them becomes an instant convert.”

2. Beef tongue
“The only gross thing about tongue is that it looks like a big ol’ tongue. Oh, and you need to peel it. But, that’s the fun part too. Buy a tongue, put it in the pressure cooker with 1-inch of beef stock and cook for 30 minutes. (Or do it this way as tacos.) Let it cool, peel it and serve slices on sandwiches, crostini or chopped up in a ragoût. The meat is silky-soft and absolutely chock-full-o-flavor.”

3. Monkfish liver
“This is a surprise to a lot of folks, but monkfish liver is like the foie gras of the sea. If the fish guy has monkfish liver, I’m buying it. Seared in a little butter, it has a rich flavor and texture and makes a perfect first course with some pickled shallots or a lemony-jalapeño slaw."

4. Turkey gizzards
"Gizzards are the unchewable tough bits that are shoved into the hole of the Thanksgiving bird (chickens have them, too). You could add them to the gravy, but a much better use is to confit them. Once you’ve collected a few (freeze them as you come across them), salt them and cover them with fat in a pan (olive oil works, so does duck/chicken/turkey fat) and let them simmer for one and half hours. Sliced thinly, they have a super-soft-yet-meaty texture and a very mild flavor.”

5. Testicles of any kind
“I’m not even joking; balls are creamy and delicious. Recently, I found some lamb balls at the butcher, but I’ve cooked deer, calf and goat balls all for surprised, happy dinner guests (albeit, a little timid at first). Peel the sack away, pierce the membrane and roast. Whether you want to them slice and fry the bits is up to you, but their texture is so cloud-like (think sweetbreads, but smoother) and their flavor so mild that they pair well with just about anything. Those lamb balls were the star of a spring salad of beets, beans, shallots and mache. Awesome.”

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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soundoff (283 Responses)
  1. Zim

    Man those sound good if i was they kinda guy who skinned cheeks off people or hunted deer to steal there tendons for a spaghetti. Yeah. but no lie the hearts might be good

    August 13, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
  2. Kate-Cleveland, OH

    Living in Cleveland, i have the great pleasure of being in very close proximity to 4 Michael Symon restaurants. He loves offul and cooks it very well. Beef Cheek Perogies at Lola are a dream and Breaded and Fried Chicken Livers at Lolita are fantastic. i've never tried to cook them before, though.

    August 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
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