Let’s talk about an offal subject…specifically hearts…and how to eat one.
Ha ha! I can hear you squeamishly moaning all the way over here in disgust and fear. You mortals, with your strange idea of what’s edible and what’s — not.
Remember the days of old when consuming the heart of your enemies wasn’t just considered good form, but was also a way to absorb their power and courage?
Regardless of how you wage your campaigns of war, revenge, and/or world dominance, eating heart (or other organ meats, often referred to as ‘offal’) is an easy way to get a piece of highly nutritious and unique meat into your diet…and let’s be honest, it just looks wickedly cool on the plate.
Now, quickly, before we dive into this recipe, let’s talk about the nutrition behind eating heart, because, denizen of hell or otherwise, we’re all looking for ways to improve our health, and eating lean meat like this is a great way to start.
First off, because the heart is a muscle, it’s naturally lean and high in protein. It’s also loaded with fancy sounding words like thiamin, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, CoQ10 and a handful of the B vitamins.
Part of the reason people have an aversion to eating heart comes from the fact that it’s easy to ruin. An overcooked heart is tough, rubbery, and bland. A perfectly cooked heart should be a deep medium rare.
Of course, if you really want to go old school, still warm and straight from the chest of your conquered foe is still the way I prefer.
For those who prefer a more — civilized approach, you will need:
- 1 heart (beef, lamb, goat, pork, longpig)
- 1 bowl cold water
We’ll start with the prep of the heart first, as that takes a bit of work.
The first thing you want to do is soak your heart in cold water. Gently massage it while it’s under the water to help not only relax the muscles, but to break up and loosen any blood clots that might be caught up in the valves. Theoretically your butcher should have already trimmed and cleaned your heart, but it’s always a good idea to do this step, just in case.
Take your heart out of the water and pat it dry. Using a sharp knife, you want to gently slice down one side so it opens up and lays flat.
You might notice when you open it up that there are a number of “threads” connected to the heart. Trim these off. I personally share these with my favorite hell hounds as they enjoy a good treat every now and again. Trim away any vessels or arteries that are also still hanging around. Again, if you’re getting your heart from a butcher, this should have already been done, but it never hurts to check.
Now that your heart is trimmed, it’s time to marinade it.
For the marinade, you will need:
- 1/2 Cup red wine (Or balsamic vinegar – dealer’s choice)
- 1/2 Cup Olive oil
- Sprig of Rosemary
- 1/4 Teaspoon thyme
Mix these ingredients together and then, in a shallow dish, fully submerge your heart and cover with a piece of food grade plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the meat, fully sealing it in. Chill your heart in the refrigerator. Because I like to keep the deep red of the heart intact, I prefer to use red wine in my recipe. If you’re looking for a more tender heart, the Balsalmic vinegar is a superior tenderizer and also lends a deep rich taste to the meat. Whichever you choose, make sure to marinate your heart for at least an hour in your liquid. Overnight is the best.
When you’re ready to stuff your heart, you will need the following ingredients:
- 3 Slices of bacon, cooked (save the grease)
- 1/2 Cup mushrooms, diced
- 1 Tablespoon garlic, diced
- 1 Cup spinach, fresh
- 1/4 Cup red onion, diced
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon pepper
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove your bacon but keep half the fat in your frying pan. Set aside the other half. You will need it for searing your heart.
Add in your diced onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms are soft and your onions are translucent.
Add in your spinach, garlic, and crumble in your bacon and continue to cook until the spinach is fully wilted and all the liquid at the bottom of your pan has evaporated. The last thing you want is a stuffed and soggy heart.
Remove your stuffing from the heat and allow to cool.
While your stuffing is cooling, it’s time to prep your heart for stuffing.
Turn your oven on to 275F/135C and allow it to preheat.
You will need:
- Hand full of toothpicks
- Butcher’s twine
Because we will be first searing and then roasting our heart over high heat, I always start out by first soaking my toothpicks and butcher’s twine in a bit of water (at least 10 minutes for the toothpicks).
Once they’re good and wet it’s time to start reassembling your heart.
You want to pierce both sides of the slit you cut into your heart when you cleaned it with your toothpicks. Then, using your butcher’s twine, you want to wrap around the toothpicks to ensure the sides stay pulled together, creating a pocket that’s open at the top.
Stuff in your stuffing, making sure to fill your heart well, but don’t pack it too tightly. You want to be able to seal the top over the stuffing , creating the illusion of a full and complete heart.
Once your heart is stuffed, use the rest of your toothpicks and twine to seal up the top of your heart. You should be left with a heart that looks like this:
Take the last portion of your saved bacon fat and melt it in a frying pan set over high heat. Sear your heart for 2 to 3 minutes each side in the melted fat, giving it a deep rich crust.
Once your heart is fully seared, transfer it to an oven safe roasting pan and cook it uncovered in your oven for 15-20 minutes per pound. Keep in mind, the more ‘done’ your heart is, the closer it comes to ‘tough.’ Err on the side of caution.
Personally I pulled mine at the 15 minute mark and it was PERFECT!
Remove your cooked heart from the oven, and cover loosely with a tent of tin foil. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Before plating, pull your toothpicks and butcher’s twine, and serve your warm, savory stuffed heart.
Here I plated it up over a bed of black forbidden rice and rosemary Balsalmic roasted baby potatoes with a side of fresh, crusty black like my soul bread.
Slice that heart open, dig into your stuffing, and enjoy your first bites of truly awesome offal…no awful included.
Because this recipe is a little labor intensive, this is a great special occasion meal. Serve it for your favorite fall holiday, or if you’re truly brave…save it for Valentine’s day and show that special someone how much they mean to you.
And as they say in Hell…
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