Thursday, April 5, 2012
Put some heart in your mouth! (braised heart recipe)
I LOVE heart. For me it ranks right up there with my other favorites, like oxtail, goat neck, and tongue (and yes, I do plan to post my favorite recipes for these other variety cuts over the next few weeks). Try heart once, and it's likely you'll feel so good after eating it that you'll want to eat it again. After all, heart is a good source of protein, niacin, phosphorus, zinc, and copper, and a very good source of vitamin B12, riboflavin, iron, and selenium. Like liver, it is relatively low in fat but contains LOTS of brain-supporting, hormone-balancing cholesterol! And for all of you out there taking supplements for this or that, heart muscle supplies CoQ10 direct from the source.
So far I have used only one recipe, but three different kinds of heart meat: calf's heart, lamb hearts, and beef heart. (My chicken heart experiment, the one deviation from this, which involved sauteeing and lots of onions, was NOT a success.) I consider braising to be the best method for preparing heart since it is a very strong, muscular organ and responds well to long, slow cooking. (Unless you're visiting Takashi for some beef heart sashimi, which I will also post on soon!)
I found this great recipe from the NY Times website, and like to follow it as closely as possible. Here are the instructions, in pictures (I'm using pastured lamb's hearts here which is why I'm making three at once; when making a 2 lb. piece of beef heart I only end up with one heart "pillow" to braise):
1. the preliminary step: prepare your stuffing mix (1 small minced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped, and zest of 1 organic lemon)
3. slice the heart open (skip this step if you are using pre-sliced heart rather than a whole one)
4. clean out the inside, removing as many of the sinews as possible without discarding precious meat, to leave a "clear hollow shell." It won't be pretty, but this doesn't matter!
5. salt and pepper the inside, add a large pat of butter, and fill with stuffing mixture
6. now the fun part: pretend you're a surgeon and stitch 'er up! (I used a regular needle and off-white thread.) I have been sewing since the age of 5 and love that this recipe incorporates both cooking AND sewing!
7. Repeat the above steps with the other hearts you are using (if any), then season the outside of the heart(s) with salt and pepper and brown in lots of hot fat (lard, tallow, or schmaltz) in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid.
8. Remove the hearts from the pot and add the chopped veggies (1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, all finely chopped), stirring well. When the veggies have softened add 1 tbsp. sweet paprika (this is the regular paprika available in stores, differentiated from the smoked variety).
9. Return the hearts to the pot and add a bay leaf and 1 cup homemade beef stock (I have used chicken stock and beef tongue cooking liquid, both with good results; the only kind I wouldn't use would be fish).
10. Braise with the lid on until the hearts are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. This takes about 2 hours or so. Keep the heat around medium-low for a nice steady simmer, and turn the hearts every 20 minutes.
11. Now you're ready to eat! I recommend starting with a fresh green salad, then serving the sliced hearts with buttered potatoes or winter squash, plus lactofermented sauerkraut. Be sure to pour the rich fatty juice over the meat, and add unrefined sea salt to taste.
This is also GREAT left over.