Grilled Beef Heart
As I cook more and more, I’ve found myself venturing into cuts of meat that are less popular – like offal.
There’s a few reasons for this really:
1) It’s boring to cook the same cut over and over again. It can be a fun challenge to figure out a new cut of beef.
2) It way more economical and efficient (and I believe important) to know how to eat the whole animal.
3) Assuming you cook it correctly, it can be really delicious.
I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who is pretty adventurous and will try almost anything once especially after I made her lengua tacos that she still talks about today.
Cooking beef heart was a new one for me though and there’s no doubt about it. It takes a little HEART to cook a big one.
Grilled Beef Heart
Yield: Serves 4.
1 whole beef heart (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
Polenta or other starch
Gremolata: (From my short rib ragu recipe)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon zest and 1/2 of the juice
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1) Take your whole heart and, with a sharp knife, go over both sides of it removing any sinewy parts including skin and tendons. You should be left with a uniform piece of meat that resembles a very lean steak.
2) Cut the heart steak into 1/2 inch slices. Drizzle on some olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
3) Grill heart strips on high heat for about 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Once the steaks come off the grill, let them rest for a few minutes before serving. Cover them with foil to keep them warm.
4) Mix gremolata ingredients together ahead of time and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes (30 would be good).
5) Serve a few heart strips over a starch (like polenta). Top with gremolata.
Preparing the Heart
When it comes to finding a whole beef heart, you might have to do some searching. It probably won’t be in your local Kroger. Ask around at butchers and check out farmer’s markets (where I got mine).
The good news is that if you find one, it’ll probably be dirt cheap. I was able to snag a grass-fed free-range heart for about $2/pound.
When I brought it home, Betsy was a bit squeamish about it I think. Mainly just because it looks like, well, a heart.
The thing to remember about a heart is that it’s basically one big muscle with lots of compartments and valves made of tough tendons.
Grab a sharp knife and spend some time going over both sides of the heart, slicing off anything that looks chewy.
You should be left with a steak that is basically the leanest cut of meat you’ll ever see from a cow.
Cut this into 1/2 inch strips and drizzle on some olive oil. Then season them liberally with salt and pepper.
Cooking the Heart
Unlike some cuts of offal which take a long time to prepare, heart is about as easy as it gets. You want to cook it like a steak basically: Hot and Fast.
So fire up that grill (or cast iron skillet) and crank the heat up to high. The heart steaks will take only about 3 minutes per side to be a nice medium rare.
Be sure to let your heart rest for a few minutes when it comes off the grill before serving it. Just be sure to cover them with foil to keep them warm.
I decided to serve my heart with a popular Italian topping called gremolata. It’s basically an acidic, herby, salty creation that goes really well with beef.
Just mix everything together and let it marinate for a few minutes at room temperature. You’ll be left with this sauce that goes great on pretty much any cut of beef.
I recommend serving these guys with some sort of starch. I chose polenta just to keep with the Italian theme but you could use egg noodles or a ton of other starches.
Assuming you do use polenta, just cook it according to the package and, if you want, you could mix in some grated cheese.
A side of veggies doesn’t hurt for this dish also because the heart and starch combo can be a bit heavy.
I cut into one of my heart strips just so you could see the finished product.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to not overcook these guys.
At the end of the day, I thought this was a really tasty cut of meat. Betsy didn’t love it, but she readily admitted that that was mainly because she couldn’t get over the fact that she was eating heart.
I found the flavor to be a lot more mild than some other offal cuts if you can get past the whole heart thing…
What do you think? Anybody else tried beef heart before?