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Offal Isn’t Awful: Offal 101 With Chef Eduardo Garcia

MEAT! Ambassador Chef Eduardo Garcia of Montana Mex talks about offal and shares his Wild Game Offal Meatloaf recipe.

What exactly is offal? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as offal (noun): the waste or by-product of a process, such as trimmings (such as the belly, head, and shoulders) of a hide. In layman’s culinary terms, it’s organ meat or other bits of the animal that would typically be discarded by butchers. 

Any piece of meat you likely looked at as a kid and wondered “what is that” is likely offal.

A hunter holds a wild game animal heart.

For many hunters—and really anyone who eats meat—the “nasty bits” are often tossed in the trash or just avoided altogether. But it’s no secret that heart, liver, kidney, and other organ meat is loaded with vitamins and minerals; offal is a veritable powerhouse of nutrients. So, how does one go about introducing these meat multivitamins into the kitchen?

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First off, simply finding them can be difficult. Go ahead and ask your local butcher if they can lay their hands on some hearts, kidneys, or livers. Farmer’s markets can also be a productive site for offal–hunting. Save the organs from animals you harvest this fall. Clean them well, then bring them into the kitchen… it’s time to get busy.

We asked MEAT! Ambassador Chef Eduardo Garcia of Montana Mex to talk about introducing offal to your diet, his preferred cooking methods, and why some people tend to not have much enthusiasm for cooking offal.

Two backcountry hunters place wild game into a game bag while field dressing their harvest.

onX: What first got you interested in cooking wild game?

Eduardo: As a Montana kid, I grew up chasing all kinds of game like rabbits, game birds, and fish. So my interest goes back to my early years and I’ve never looked back.

Why do you think many people are “gun shy” about consuming offal? 

Like most food hesitations, “don’t likes,” and “won’t eats,” these sensitivities begin with a bad experience or lack of experience. Pair that with a conventional food system that does not cater to offal consumption and availability in general retail and—boom!—offal has simply disappeared from our nutritional and gastronomic wheelhouses.

Chef Eduardo Garcia makes wild game meat loaf.

Someone’s trying offal for the first time. What would you like them to know, and where’s a good place to start? 

Offal is nutrient-dense, affordable, and—when handled with some understanding and skill—is delicious.

Do you see any regionality in offal consumption? Is it eaten more frequently in certain parts of the U.S.? 

Good question, I would say yes and this could be due to a variety of factors. Generally, I see offal showing up in markets or on menus the closer I am to an agricultural or ranching community, as well as communities actively working within local food systems.

Wild game meatloaf in a pan.

What do you think is the most underrated type of offal? Which is your favorite to prepare and/or eat? 

Technically offal is considered the edible internal parts of animals and this primarily lands on the organs. However, other cuts also tend to be classified as offal such as cheeks, suet, and trotters. I think trotters (or feet) get very little love, especially in the wild game world. Having said that, I’d like to shine a light on feet/trotters. I’ve been enjoying using them in my stocks, soups, and stews as they are loaded with collagen from the high volume of tendon and connective tissues and add an invaluable body to stock (and subsequently the dishes I build with that stock). I also love, love, love tongue!

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Do you have a favorite offal recipe you’re willing to share? 

Yes! I am stoked to share a wild game meatloaf recipe that uses kidney, liver, and/or heart. I hope you love it!

Wild Game Offal Meatloaf
(That’s Far From Awful)
Courtesy of Montana Mex, Chef Eduardo Garcia
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground game
  • ½  lb. ground or finely chopped offal, kidney, heart, liver
  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 C diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 T ketchup
  • 1T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T fresh parsley
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t Montana Mex Mild Chile or other chile powder
  • 3/4 C Montana Mex Ketchup
  • 2T packed light brown sugar or Montana Mex Sweet Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t garlic posder
  • 1/4 t ground black pepepr
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t dry oregano
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, add and thoroughly blend all ingredients except the ground meat and offal (leave out Ketchup Glaze ingredients). Using your hands or a mixing spoon, add the ground meats and mix again just enough to fully incorporate both mixes into each other. Overmixing can result in a dense meatloaf.
  3. Shape the meatloaf as a loaf on a parchment-lined sheet pan or press into a loaf pan.
  4. Create a shallow depression lengthwise along the meatloaf.
  5. Pour and evenly spread the sauce into the shallow valley and spread across the top of the meatloaf.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165F has been reached.
  7. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Slice and serve with your favorite sides. Buen provecho!

Jess McGlothlin

Before taking the role of onX Communications Writer, Jess McGlothlin worked as a freelance photographer and writer in the outdoor and fly-fishing industries. While on assignment in the past few years she’s learned how to throw spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, stand-up paddleboard down Peruvian Amazon tributaries and eat all manner of unidentifiable food.