Do I like heart meat? No. No I do not. I do not like it in a box, I do not like it with a fox. I do not like it with a skunk, I do not like to eat dat junk. But in our ever-growing community of nose-to-tail consumption, it’s behooving (beHOOFing? Ugh, don’t look at me.) to find ways to eat the somewhat unconventional parts of animals and reap their nutritional benefits.
I don’t really cook offal. Or eat offal. And it’s not that I’m not an adventurous eater, it’s just…have you seen what sweetbreads look like?
Certain things just make me severely uncomfortable, like gory movies and the palpable air of certain doom that follows the elderly. Or being trusted to hold small children. They’re just so breakable and I’m so very clumsy.
Offal doesn’t really make me feel all that much different.
Heart meat is a little weird, but since many people in the States seem to have the same feelings about it, it’s ridiculously cheap to get. It’s very meaty, a little tough, and is as purple as a newborn, but jam packed with minerals and nutrients, as well as a having a high density of a chemical compound known to reduce heart disease, scare off cancer and prolong life, otherwise known as CoQ10. That’s the same stuff made in pill form and sold for cash money millions.
But let me say it again: heart meat is kind of weird. Some people claim it to be a poor man’s steak, saying the taste to be indiscernible from more expensive cuts. Do not engage with these people. They are goddamn liars.
Though I’d rather go for short ribs, flank, tenderloin or other cuts of beef, heart definitely isn’t the worst cut you can find. Don’t take my review at face value, though. Many people love it! Most of whom have questionable tastes and should not be trusted with sharp objects.
Then again, I’ve had worse. In France I ordered a large helping of andouillette thinking it was andouille just spelled wrong. Spoiler alert: It’s not. Instead of delicious, smoked sausage (andouille), you get pig intestines filled with pig intestines (andouillette). It was like Inception, except with pig asshole instead of dreams.
Truthfully, there is a slight but discernible sweet and coppery/livery taste to heart, but I almost expected that given its former full time job. If you like your meat with a somewhat earthy, meaty taste, you might enjoy grilled, roasted or braised heart meat by itself. The rest of us can reap the nutritional benefits of this cheap cut of meat by blending it into standard ground beef on a 1:3 ratio. For burgers, I would avoid going beyond a 1:2 ratio, otherwise the taste may be overwhelming, and the lack of fat makes for one dry sonofabeef.
[print_this]Recipe: Smoky Beef Heart Sliders with Spinach-Bacon Aioli
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
For the Beef Heart Sliders
- ½ pound beef heart (ground, if possible)
- 1 ½ pound ground beef
- 8-10 ounces pork bacon, cooked and chopped (reserve bacon grease)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp chili pepper
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Kosher or sea salt
For the Spinach-Bacon Aioli
- 1 cup loosely packed spinach leaves
- Two egg yolks, room temperature
- ½ tsp ground dry mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup bacon fat, melted but cool
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
For the Spinach-Bacon Aioli
- Before starting, ensure that bacon grease is at room temperature and not hot. You want the grease to be liquefied, not solid, but you do not want it to be hot, otherwise it will cook the egg yolks and not emulsify.
- Boil three cups and prepare a bowl with ice water.
- Blanch spinach leaves into boiling water for 10 seconds and immediately place into an ice water bath. Remove spinach leaves, wring out water, and mince leaves. Set aside.
- Add egg yolk, mustard and salt in a clean glass or metal bowl and whisk vigorously for two minutes to combine and warm up yolks. (You can use a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment for this).
- Continuing to whisk vigorously, begin adding grease one to two drops at a time until you can see that the yolk is emulsifying with the grease, then continue to add oil in a slow, thin, steady stream while continually whisking. If the mixture looks to be separating, then you are adding the oil too quickly. Stop adding grease and continue to whisk until the oil incorporates itself back into the yolk mixture.
- Halfway through adding the oil, add white wine vinegar and then finish adding the grease.
- Once the grease has been added, you should have a consistency similar to that of mayonnaise. Mix chopped spinach into mayonnaise, or place in blender to better combine.
For the Beef Heart Sliders:
- If beef heart is not ground, wash thoroughly, slice away any of the hard fat, valves, connective tissue and cut into 1 inch cubes. Place into a freezer bag and freeze for roughly one hour so that they are well chilled and slightly hardened, but not frozen.
- Pulse beef heart and bacon in a food processor in five-second increments until you reach desired consistency. Do not over process.
- Mix remaining ingredients, except the salt, in a large bowl and form into small patties.
- Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, salt the top of the burgers and place them onto the pan (this will form a crust on the burger), salt-side-down. Cook for 3 minutes, and salt the other side of the burger and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Smother that mother with aioli and get your burger on.