Friday, February 26

Beef Hearts Are Delicious. It's Offal, Not Awful!


Beef Heart, Green Kohlrabi, and Red Plums
After winning the cooking joust contest for January, it became my task to select the ingredients for the next February Foodie Joust. Soooo, I selected beef heart, kohlrabi, and plums. Having eaten beef heart for the better part of my life, it never occurred to me that some people would be grossed out over it. In North Carolina, where chitlin's and tripe are found at almost every meat counter, it's really perplexing.

Beef heart is pure muscle -- lean, delicious, protein-filled, muscle that has no grain and is tender regardless of the way you slice it. It's offal, those edible parts of an animal that are not skeletal; but, to me, one of the better non-skeletal parts, along with livers, gizzards, and kidneys, and tongue.  (Although, I did know a butcher who refused to grind my beef heart because the heart bone would break his machine... Umm, the less said, the better.)

Oh, yeah, let's see, what else is considered offal, nowadays. It used to be that just the entrails were considered offal but it's now been enlarged to include much, much, more.  There's abdominal organs, feet, tails, head, cheeks...you get the idea.The taste and texture has a lot to do with the age and species of animal, but it's all very good for you. Europeans tend to eat offal without apology, Americans need it hidden in other foods; such as, pates, sausages, brauns, and names -- variety meats or organ meats. 

Bringing Nutrients Back Into Your Diet
I first introduced my family to beef heart by grinding it into regular hamburger meat. This accomplished two things; first, it returned the protein back into the hamburg, which was primarily the unusable meat and fat from specialty cuts of meat; and, second, the burgers kept their size and shape during cooking. Regular burgers have lots of great greasy taste but very little substance, which is why you can gobble down so many. The leaner the meat, the more filling -- and the more expensive. I used a ratio of ten pounds 30% fatty hamburg, 2-3 pounds of trimmed beef heart, and 1/2 pound calf's liver. This produced a moist, lean hamburger mixture that tasted liked ground sirloin and didn't lose its shape during the cooking process. Most folks fell in love with the burgers and wanted to know where to buy them. Truth is, once you've tried it, you really don't want to settle for anything less.

This mix makes everything taste better: chilis, spaghetti sauces, meatloafs, you name it. So, I have a hard time trying to figure out why people are so squeamish about beef heart. Pound for pound, you get more for your money, in all ways. If you want to do this slowly, just mix the hamburg and beef heart together, first; then, add the calf's liver for an extra boost -- or, not. But, do yourself a tasty favor and give it a try. If you're really squeamish about working with a 'real' beef heart, locate a butcher who pretties them up before packaging and it'll be just like working with any other piece of specialty meat.

My Recipe for Beef Heart, Kohlrabi, and Plums May be Only Entry (Sniff!)
Hopefully, my recipe won't be the only entry at the February Foodie Joust. Most folks wait till the last minute to post their recipes and pictures and I'm hoping there are less feint-hearted chefs in the good old US of A.
I do know that when I tried it out on my sister, she was delighted with the results and definitely wanted more.

There's a California chef who really knows his offal and has a very interesting web site. Why don't you pop on over and discover more about variety meats and their nutritional value from Chris Cosentino of San Francisco’s Incanto Restaurant. Then, come back for a visit and check out my beef heart recipe.

10 comments:

  1. This was a very interesting and informative post Sharlene and I suspect other people have discovered the plus's of eating beef heart too. Can't wait to see the recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Sharlene (my sitsta)! Having lived in FL my whole life (up until last year when we moved to TN) I am one of those people who are definitly grossed out at the thought of beef hearts. However, I was unaware of the health benefits of it. This was a very informative post!
    Have a GREAT weekend!!!!
    http://angiesfreebies.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I never thought that this would be a good dish but you convinced me. We so forget about nutrients and you are really good at reminding. I'm going to try this and look for different and interesting recipes.
    Thanks so much,
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  4. Some friends from my CSA got a beef heart to cook for Valentine's. How they cooked it...

    ReplyDelete
  5. I quite like the texture of beef heart. I simmer it for hours when making beef broth, which adds a good depth of flavor to the broth, and tenderizes the heart. Next I chop it and mix with gravy sauce. It's a great twist to the old classic.

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  6. As you know you've converted me, and now many of my customers. I just have to remember, its a muscle not a mucus!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gfron1: I know, and think it's great! Betcha you have competition from the other chefs before long. They're not going to like losing customers. And, your recipe is so pretty, too!

    ReplyDelete
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