I need to come up with a good name for mixed grill that sounds cool. Bollito Misto would be a cool thing to call it but that’s a mixed boil, and all the other foreign terms for mixed meat grill-fests refer to a specific collection of meats. Please provide suggestions for what I should call future events where I fish interesting stuff out of my chest freezer to grill up.
Anyhoo, Lamb, smelts, and cow parts were on the menu for Saturday and good golly was it rewarding. Let’s check out the vacuum sealed lineup.
That’s a half kidney, half beef tongue, a lamb tongue, two lamb hearts, and a hanger steak. The steak was from Uncle Billy’s cow, the half kidney was leftover from a previous experiment with steak and kidney pie, and the tongues and hearts were from Snow Farm.
The hanger steak came over in the creepy cooler I picked up on Kristi’s grandmother’s porch and the tongues and hearts are from the bag David left for me in a driveway in Lexington, MA. I was extremely excited to cook both of them.
The item I was less excited about was discovered in my freezer a few weeks ago. In a good life lesson to search your friend’s pockets before they enter your apartment, a 1.5 pound bag of smelts was hidden between Janet’s waffles and some frozen corn. In general I like smelts, which are basically a large sardine that is usually fried and eaten whole (with the guts and head removed). The frozen version kind of scared me, and the fish stank they leaked into my fridge when they defrosted didn’t help my fear.
While the smelts finished defrosting, I started initial prep on the meat. First up was the hanger steak.
Apparently hanger steak (called that because it hangs from the diaphragm) comes from the same general area of the cow as the skirt and flank steaks. Like those other cuts, it needs be marinated, cooked medium rare and sliced thinish since it can be pretty chewy, but first there was a whole lot of crap to cut away.
With the steak trimmed, it headed into a marinade of Worcestershire, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Random collection of ingredients but I also knew it couldn’t go wrong.
While all that was happening, the tongues were in a pot of salted boiling water for about an hour to get them ready for peeling.
Peeling tongues is always difficult to get started then easy going once you have a piece to get ahold of. Not my favorite activity.
Back to the smelts. With people arriving and plans of serving them tiny fishies as an app, I gave the smelts a good rinse under running water before dredging in lemon juice and shaking them in a bag full of bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Despite the conniption brought on by my OCD when pan frying, it was the only way to do the smelts right so they headed into a large pan with a layer of shimmering olive oil. A few minutes on each side in the hot oil and you had a crispy crunchy whole fish body to chew on.
The smelts were pretty dece, far better than I would have expected when I first smelled them. You have to like the crunch of eating the whole fish body, bones and all, and the flavor that comes from doing so. It’s a pretty flavorful experience, though I will always prefer the heads-on version I got in Sovicille Italy.
Back to the meats. After a couple hours in the fridge soaking in a salt/sugar brine, the lamb hearts and kidney came out of the fridge looking like something from the storage room at the Mütter Museum.
I’ve shown beef kidneys on here before, so no need to show that again pre-trimming, but lamb hearts are pretty cool looking.
I cut the hearts into thirds and the kidney into cubes before putting them onto double skewers, yakitori-style. Since I had a decent experience with grilled kidneys in Morocco when they were coated with Moroccan seasonings, I went with a similar treatment. The lamb and kidneys both got a coating of paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, and garlic powder plus a good drizzle of olive oil.
I sliced the tongues as well and gave them the same yakitori skewer treatment. Avoided the heavy seasoning this time and went with just salt pepper and olive oil.
With the grill well heated and enveloping our guests with smoke, it was time to get the mixed grill grillin’.
After a few minutes on each side for the lamb and tongues skewers, a little longer for the kidneys and a little longer than that for the steak, everything was ready to come off the grill.
I sliced the hearts and tongues while the steak rested.
With the meats all ready to go, I’ll throw a brief shoutout to our two vegetarian dishes that were a nice change of pace from the massive amounts of meat.
With everything laid out and ready to grub, we dove in until fully stuffed. Here’s a new approach to the recap
- The lamb’s tongue was rich and awesome, like a nice fried piece of fatty lamb. Need to order more of these from Snow Farm.
- The beef tongue had a nice pot roast flavor but was a little chewy due to the thickness I sliced. I will figure out how to cook this stuff at some point.
- The kidneys were very strong. Like throw the rest out after we each had a bite strong. They had been in the freezer for awhile and were from a factory farmed cow so the odds were against me from the start, plus I didn’t soak them nearly long enough and should have added a milk soak cycle as well.
- The lamb hearts were really awesome and I will need to order more of them as well. The meat was lean, tasted like great lamb with no off flavors, and very tender. Probably always will be best on the grill but I’d imagine they’d go great with a little feta and a lemony arugala salad next time.
- The hanger steak was also very good and had great beef flavor, need to find a butcher that sells it instead of keeping it for themselves.
- I’ve made my feelings known on the kale salad (happy to share the recipe), but the Soba one was equally delicious. The mango and cilantro were a great combo and the chewy tofu worked great as a meat substitute in a salad like this.
And that’s all. Off to Little Compton for the weekend, going to hit that fish shop I love and hopefully do some foraging.