Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Captain Beef Heart

I find myself at an ethical and moral crossroads.

As a food writer, it is my job to not only entertain but also enlighten my readers about new and unusual foods they may not have encountered.

As a realist and cynic, I am afraid that if I hip too many eaters to this latest discovery it will go the way of the pork belly: Up in price ($12/lbs, can you believe it?).

Having promised my editors (sorry!) literally for weeks that I would do a thing about "duck confit" I dragged myself out of the house today, despite my severe allergies and their debilitating symptoms.

I made it to Olivier's Butchery in San Francisco's Dog Patch after calling ahead and making a plaintive request to hold however many duck legs they had.

The girl on the phone said they only had four -- to my delight she meant four packs of two legs each, not four legs.

Still, I was not satisfied.

I had to leave with something new, something foreign or weird.

I eyed the display coolers...livers, kidneys...those spoil too fast or are challenging to cook correctly. I needed something quick and relatively painless for Sunday dinner.

Stuffed quail, rolled up de-boned racks of lamb and veal. Stuffed pork chops. Meh...blah...

Beef hearts. $2.99/lb. Bingo!

"That's a lot of duck legs you're buying," said the clerk with his signature Burgundy-colored chef's jacket.

"Confit de canard," I replied, as he nodded.

"I thought that might be it," he said.

"So, tell me how would you do this beef heart?" I asked, adding, "quick sear on the grill or a long braise?"

"Oh," he said, "I'd just salt them and then sear them quickly on a very hot skillet or cast iron."

"Cast iron, you say? I have just the thing.."



Seared Beef Hearts:
  • 3/4 lbs of beef hearts, trimmed and sliced thin
  • salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2 1"x1/2"x1/8" slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 1 ounce of red wine
  • 1 ounce of vinegar
Salt the hearts well on both flat sides and let rest while you bring a cast-iron to smoking hot.

Add lard, garlic and ginger.

Cook garlic and ginger in the lard until browned then discard the garlic and ginger reserving the lard.

Lay hearts in the pan and let sear for 3 minutes, flip, then another 1-2 minutes.

Remove meat to a resting plate and de-glaze pan over medium heat with wine and vinegar. Reduce to 1/3rd volume then pour over hearts.

Slice hearts against the bias and serve after resting at least 5 minutes.

The acidity of the reduction should cut through any organ or game flavors of the hearts, leaving tender, meaty goodness and little after-taste.

The applications for this wonderfully flavorful meat seem endless...salads, tacos, sandwiches, numerous brunch and breakfast vehicles.

If I start a trend, so be it. It's too good not to share.

Beef hearts, you heard it from Chowbacca! first...unless you are already hip to this: