As I chopped vegetables Thanksgiving day for my grandmother’s giblet gravy I couldn’t help but think about our food traditions.
Upon occasion we find ourselves eating a whole turkey and preparing every part. We use the giblets and the neck to make a gravy. We cut off all the meat and enjoy it as a meal. Afterwards, we take the bones and what’s left on them and make a soup.
To me this is part of what I love about Thanksgiving.
Not only do I get a whole day devoted to cooking, drinking wine, and spending time with the people I love. I get to prepare a whole animal and explore all the uses I can find for it.
“Nose to Tail” is the term coined by Fergus Henderson to refer to using all of the parts of an animal. Slowly this became a popular concept among chefs and foodies today. Personally I love the fact that people are trying to challenge themselves this way.
Nose to Tail, is not a new concept just a new term referring to the rethinking of traditional regional cooking from various cultures.
So maybe you’ve heard of this concept. Maybe you like pate and sweat breads and giblet gravy! Not only do those things taste awesome and are fun to experiment with in the kitchen, but they each are packed with various vitamins and minerals that we can use.
I love to experiment in the kitchen and hardly ever follow recipes, but cooking the whole animal or even parts I’m unfamiliar with I reserve for the weekends.
On the weekdays I like to keep it simple. An easy saute with a few veggies and herbs from the garden, paired with some quinoa and a sausage I bought at the farmer’s market are a usual meal for me. If I can I will cook it all in the same skillet to minimize the mess.. I am just one person.
The veggie saute is where we as home cooks can really put the Nose to Tail concept to work every day. I like to call this my Root to Flower cooking strategy. When getting veggies and herbs from the garden I try to find uses for every part in my sautes, soups and roasts. Things like radish tops, broccoli stems and cauliflower leaves can all be used. Here’s a list..
- Fennel, Cilantro, Celery, Parsley ::: Braise, mash, roast, or use in soups
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Chard ::: Saute, roast, use in soups, or braise
- Broccoli, Radish, Turnips, Carrots, Beets ::: Saute, braise, or add to a soup
- Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower ::: Braise
- Celery ::: Eat fresh in salads or add to soups as an herb
- Citrus ::: Zest or candy the peel, or soak in water to make a natural cleaner/pest repellent
- Potato ::: Bake potato peels and stuff them, or make them into crispy chips
- Watermelon ::: Pickle, or use the white part in place of cucumber in salads
- Melon, Squash ::: Roast
- Herbs ::: Herb seeds can often be used fresh or dried as a more concentrated version of the herb itself, some herbs double as spices like fennel and cilantro/coriander
- Broccoli ::: I’ve seen the seed pods sauteed and used fresh in salads
- Melon ::: Add to soups, ice cream and deserts
- Squash ::: Eat fresh in salads, or stuff/batter and fry them
- Lettuce ::: Add fresh to salads for a spicy kick
- Herbs ::: Add fresh to soups and salads for a delicate touch of flavor
- Pansies ::: Candy or just add fresh to deserts and salads
These are easy ways to get more out of your garden and farmer’s market finds.
To celebrate this concept I along with Jess Moss from Hotline Ink have created a shirt diagramming a fennel plant and all it’s edible parts from Root to Flower.