Beef Heart: An Unexpected Meal That Spans Generations
If you’re not a vegetarian, beef heart is what’s for dinner. Stick with us on this.
The Found Recipe series, which All Things Considered will debut on Thursday, will ask cookbook authors, chefs, and bloggers to discuss the dishes that surprise and delight their audiences. These are recipes that were discovered, made, or developed out of necessity.
And what better place to start than with beef heart, a meat that has a long history of consumption—at least in this country—first out of necessity and now more frequently out of pleasure.
We turned to cookbook authors Jody Eddy and Christine Carroll, authors of Come In, Were Closed, a book about the kinds of kitchen surprises that arise when chefs at the nation’s best restaurants use leftovers to prepare meals for their staff, to find out what all the fuss is about.
The Bristol in Chicago is where Eddy and Carroll’s Found Recipe originated. It is owned and run by Chef Chris Pandel, who enjoys cooking offal, or organ meat, a cut of meat that many modern diners tend to avoid.
Were talking livers, kidneys, intestines, hearts.
Keep an open mind, even though offal practically rhymes with awful: Eddy and Carroll insist that Chef Pandel’s recipe for Beef Heart and Watermelon Salad is a revelation. “I call it steak 2. Carroll explains, “It has all the flavor of beef for a much lower cost. “.
The heart is thinly sliced and garnished with watermelon, pickled grapes, and ricotta salata cheese after being cut into three steaks and quickly seared in a cast iron pan.
Carroll had to get past some of the gore, though, in order to try beef heart at home. Even for an ex-line cook like myself, she remarks, “beef heart is chillingly anatomical. However, you’re rewarded with a marvelous protein.” which has a strong beef flavor, the slightest hint of a mineral high note, and a slight chew like hanger steak. “.
More On Beef Hearts
After she made the salad, Carroll ended up with some leftovers, which led to another Found Recipe. Since she had a baby just starting on solids, she decided to slowly poach the beef heart in chicken stock with some garlic. “When it was completely tender, I pureed it into the most mouth-wateringly silky smooth beefy baby food you could possibly imagine.” Her baby was so smitten with it that she made the puree regularly and dubbed him “Captain Beef Heart” (not to be confused with the eccentric 1960s rocker).
Meanwhile, Eddy shared this story with her Minnesota grandmother. Turns out, she ate beef heart while growing up on a dairy farm in the 1940s, as did many folks back in the day when nose-to-tail eating in the U.S. was more necessity than fashio n.
As instructed by her grandmother, Eddy prepared the heart similarly to Pandel’s seared beef heart at The Bristol, but she also added blueberries, caramelized onions, and grated horseradish. As we ate, Eddy reflects, “I was really encouraged by the new generation’s apparent appreciation for an ingredient the matriarch of my family had known about all along and thought of Christine’s young son.” “.
Carroll and Eddy’s All Things Considered interview is available above. The recipes for their beef heart dishes are provided below.
Beef Heart and Watermelon Salad
Most people believe that beef heart and liver, kidney, and gizzard share a level of funk and fat. It decidedly does not. It could certainly be mistaken for more expensive cuts of beef when seared and sliced thin as it is here, but close inspection would eventually reveal its telltale characteristic: the lack of any real grain to the flesh. It is a cost-effective substitute for steak that costs about $2 per pound (if you can find a farmer to bring one to the market for you).
One pound of beef heart, cut into three steaks measuring roughly 4 by 6 inches each (see Note below for cutting instructions).
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 ounces ricotta salata cheese (or feta)
3 cups cubed watermelon (1 inch cubes)
1/4 cup of the pickling liquid and 1 cup of whole pickled grapes are reserved separately (see recipe below).
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup of Bread and Butter Jalapenos that have been thinly sliced and 1/4 cup of the pickling liquid that has been set aside (see recipe below)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Arugula or spinach leaves, for serving (optional)
Generously season the heart steaks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over high heat in a sizable cast-iron skillet. When it starts to smoke, sear the steaks for about three minutes on one side, or until a golden brown crust has formed. The steaks should be medium-rare and have a 1/4-inch rim of seared meat when they are turned over and seared for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Take out of the pan and rest for 8 minutes on a cutting board.
Using a vegetable peeler, slice the ricotta salata into strips and set aside. In a big bowl, mix the watermelon, grapes, cilantro, olives, and jalapenos. Whisk the pickling liquids and olive oil in a different bowl.
Slice the heart steaks into long, thin slices after they’ve rested, and arrange them on a platter. Add half of the dressing to the watermelon salad, then additional dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Top the beef heart with the watermelon salad and ricotta salata. Serve with fresh arugula on the side to soak up any extra juices and dressing while the beef heart is still slightly warm.
A Note On Trimming A Beef Heart
Trim off any significant amounts of hard, white fat and vein-like ventricles that are visible on the outside of the heart before preparing a fresh or fully defrosted beef heart for steaks. It’s okay to leave some fat behind because it keeps the lean meat from drying out. By cutting down one side of the heart, beginning at the hole at the top, split it open (but not into two). Release any internal structures holding the heart together with small, quick cuts with a sharp knife so that it can lie flat. Two-thirds of the heart will lie flat after being butterflied, while the remaining third will protrude from the middle. Cut the heart into three roughly equal-sized “steaks” using this natural division. Trim any fat and ventricles, as well as the slightly opaque silver skin on both sides of each steak, so that you are left with more manageable pieces. It helps to use the sharpest, thinnest knife you own. The heart steaks are prepared for the pan once you have finished trimming and revealed the underneath smooth, shiny, dark maroon flesh.
Pickled Green Grapes
The Bristol uses peeled grapes to reduce the cure time for these special pickles to just 24 hours. (They use green table grapes, though any color as long as they are very crisp will do.) (Since there are no practical ways to quickly peel one, we can only assume that this task is assigned to the lowest-ranking cook. Peel away if you find your Zen in repetitive kitchen chores, but cutting the grapes’ stem ends off will also work (though it will take a few more days in the brine).
Yield: 1 quart
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 small cinnamon stick
1 1/2 pounds seedless green grapes
In hot, soapy water, clean a 1 quart glass jar and its lid. Rinse well and air-dry.
Combine the vinegars, sugar, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Wash and dry the grapes, getting rid of any that appear to be mushy or moldy. To reveal the flesh, cut a thin slice off the stem end with a small, sharp knife after removing the stems. Put as many grapes in the jar as will fit comfortably.
Ladle the liquid over the grapes almost to the top of the jar once it has cooled, making sure to incorporate the cinnamon stick. Label the container, screw on the lid, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 72 hours. Grapes can be kept in your refrigerator for up to two months and get better tasting (but less crisp) the longer they pickle.
Bread And Butter Jalapenos
The Bristol came up with this “bread and butter” style pickled jalapeno recipe after a summer market windfall left it with more than 200 pounds of the hot peppers.
Yield: 1 quart
16 to 20 green jalapeno peppers
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
In hot, soapy water, clean a 1 quart glass jar and its lid. Rinse well and air-dry.
Wash and dry the jalapenos. Prick each one several times with a fork. Stuff the jar with as many peppers as you can.
Combine the remaining ingredients with 3/4 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about five minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Take the pan off the heat, then carefully pour the hot liquid and spices over the jalapenos until nearly all of the liquid is gone. (A large-mouthed funnel may be useful here. ).
Put the lid on tightly, write the creation date on the label, and put the jar in the refrigerator for at least one week. Over time, the brine gets spicier and makes fantastic dressing vinegar. The peppers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Storage: 2 to 3 months in the fridge.
Poached Beef Heart Baby Food
2 cups sodium-free beef or chicken stock
1 pound of trimmed and cubed (1-inch) beef heart
1 clove garlic, sliced
Pinch of salt (optional)
In a medium saute pan over high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Include the beef heart along with just enough cool water to cover each piece. Bring the liquid back to a boil for a moment before reducing the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add the optional garlic; cover the pan with a lid. The pieces should be completely tender and easily pierced with a knife after 30 minutes of poaching on the stove. Take the beef heart out of the stock, reserve it separately, and allow it to cool for ten minutes.
To a large blender or food processor, add the cooked beef heart, 1/2 cup of stock, and a small amount of salt. To achieve the desired consistency, gradually add more cooled stock while carefully blending to create a smooth puree. Add boiled sweet potatoes, overcooked pasta, or powdered brown rice cereal to the puree if you accidentally overdo the stock and it becomes watery to thicken it again. Any leftover stock should be kept aside to be used in soups, stews, or to rehydrate legumes. ) To achieve an even smoother consistency, pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve, removing any lumpy solids that may have remained.
Pour the baby food into a fresh bowl, then wrap it in plastic wrap. When the food has cooled to “baby appropriate” temperature, serve it to your adventurous eater in copious portions.
Puree leftovers can be poured into ice cube trays, covered, and frozen for up to three months.
how to cook beef heart | nose to tail cooking series
How long does it take to boil hearts?
This is extremely easy. It is best to remove the foam after boiling the thoroughly cleaned chicken hearts, which are then covered with salted water, boiled, and simmered for approximately an hour. All that’s left to do is bake them with rice or thread scrumptious skewers with chicken hearts so you can eat them.
Can you overcook beef heart?
The heart is a tough muscle. It must be cooked slowly, as I do here, or you can slice it into “steaks” and fry it quickly, for no longer than 30 seconds per side, while keeping it rare. If you overcook it, it will be tough and inedible.
How long should you boil beef?
How long should ground beef be cooked?Once the water comes to a boil, cover the pot and let it simmer. About 15 minutes should be sufficient to completely cook it. When the meat is done, it will turn brown, so keep an eye on it.
Can you boil cow heart?
Include the beef heart along with just enough cool water to cover each piece. Bring the liquid back to a boil for a moment before reducing the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add the optional garlic; cover the pan with a lid. The pieces should be completely tender and easily pierced with a knife after 30 minutes of poaching on the stove.