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Nose-to-tail dishes turn trendy

The practice of using as much of the animal as possible in cooking is an old trend that's coming back.

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Pasta with pork trimmings

Terry Boyd

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In our increasingly food-obsessed world, we're always hungry for the next new thing. And yet one growing trend is actually quite old: Nose-to-tail eating, the practice of using as much of the animal as possible, dates back to at least the Middle Ages – more practical times when nothing was wasted. What today's foodies are finding is that less loved "odd bits" are often cheaper – and more flavorful – than the shrink-wrapped chops, steaks, and chicken breasts most people gravitate toward at the supermarket and in restaurants.

But are diners and home cooks ready to embrace pork belly, beef hearts, oxtails, and, well, innards? Increasingly, the answer is yes. Short ribs, ham hocks, and skirt steaks now regularly appear on menus and recipe websites. Chef David Ansill of Philadelphia's Bar Ferdinand has been adding nose-to-tail meals to his popular Thursday night tasting menus, listing that evening's featured animal on Twitter: The Lamb, The Cow, The Pig, and so on.

In St. Louis, chef/owner Kevin Willmann hosted his first nose-to-tail dinner at his local-farm-focused Farmhaus last summer. The menu included pig ear and tongue terrine, house braunschweiger with pork croutons, and even pig-liver caramel for the buttermilk ice cream dessert.

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