Have a Little Heart…

As the holidays approach, everyone should have some heart. Of course I mean showing love for others and eating heart.  I’m not trying to get all savage and cannibalistic here.  Beef heart is a forgotten feast. For some years now, there has been a slowly growing movement of foodies that make the most of any animal.  Now, this has been going on for thousands of years, but Americans have gotten stuck in this “chicken, pork, or beef” attitude neglecting the “odd cuts” not often seen at grocery store meat departments.  Liver, heart, cheeks, etc are all savored in Europe, but turned away here.  We’re committing culinary crime people! These are great cuts of meat and should be enjoyed.

Beef heart needs picky trimming since it’s got all kinds of funky tissues in there.  If you didn’t take anatomy class, here’s a brief shpeel on hearts.  The muscle is unlike skeletal muscle, like flank steak, which have a grain to them. Heart muscle is a bunch of layered chaos so there really isn’t any grain.

Those chordae tendinea (it’s misspelled in picture) are the strings that pull the ventricle together to pump blood.  While I’m sure it’s good for you with all that collagen, I’d rather not eat it.  So trimming away this and anything shiny is a good idea.  You should be left with only the dark red muscle. Heart is cheap and plentiful, so don’t be skimpy trying to save every bit.  Trim off the valves, vessels, and anything else not muscle and you’ll be thankful you did.

Slice the heart as thin as you’d like.  I sliced it about as thin as flank steak would be 1/4 – 1/2 inch. I discovered that no matter how much you cook it, it’ll be pink in the middle.  So you may think it’s rare, but if you’re cooking it for 5 minutes, chances are its well done. Because there is no fat (you’ll trim that) on or in the muscle, it cooks very fast, like venison or any other lean game meat.

I prepared a quick shallot vinaigrette to top my steak with.  The heart was also marinated in shallots to get a good sweet onion flavor going on throughout the dish.

At first bite, it tastes just like a lean meat, like venison in flavor.  But the texture is what throws you off.  Because there’s no grain, it has a soft, almost spongy consistency.  However, that’s a good thing since it’s not tough at all.  If you served this to someone without telling them it’s heart, they’d think it was a game meat.

Beef Heart

1 heart, trimmed of fat, vessels, and tendon
1/2 shallot, diced
salt/pepper to taste
olive oil

Season the meat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss in shallots and place meat in refrigerator for up to a day in a bag.

When ready, heat skillet to medium high.  When hot enough, add the heart and sear the sides for about 2-3 minutes per side and flip over. Another 2-3 minutes to sear the other side and remove.  Let the meat rest a few minutes before cutting it.


3 T red wine vinegar
1/2 shallot, diced
pinch salt
1 t dried oregano (or 1 T fresh)
2-3 T olive oil

Combine all ingredients besides oil into a small food processor. Pulse until shallots are almost pureed. Slowly drizzle olive oil while pureeing mixture. Add until you get your desired consistency.  This can also vary with the moisture of the shallot. *

Top beef with vinaigrette and enjoy.

*note: a typical vinaigrette has a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, but shallots contain a lot of water. I ended up using a 1:1 ratio because of this, but your shallot’s moisture may vary.

*next up…pumpkin risotto…*


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