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Archive for March, 2010

Cooking With Heart

And I don’t mean that metaphorically. I saw a blog post a while back  about grilled beef heart, which emboldened me to try heart if I got the chance. As luck would have it, I did. Nature’s Harmony Farm had some odds and ends for sale as add-ons to the monthly CSA so I decided to go for it.

Honestly, the heart sat in my deep freeze for a long time. It was big. It was scary-looking. It was kind of funky. But eventually the guilt got to me and I put it in the fridge to thaw. In the mean time, I searched out some recipes calling for heart.

I settled on Beef Heart Braised in Red Wine .  It called for wine, after all, how bad could it be? With much trepidation, I removed the heart from the package and stared at it for a while. It was kind of like a train wreck, grotesque yet I couldn’t look away. How the heck am I going to cut up this monstrosity, I wondered.

The recipe said to trim off excess fat and – um – arteries. There didn’t seem to be much for arteries left on my heart, but there was a ton of fat. I felt kind of bad cutting off all that good pastured fat, but I was following the recipe and catering to test subject Bill, who doesn’t like to see or bite into a whole lot of fat.

I trimmed and trimmed and trimmed until I was satisfied, then as the recipe called for, I cut the heart in half, then sliced it. In case I forgot exactly what I was cutting up, I sliced through a portion that looked like a bunch of small arteries. That was kind of cool, in a Discovery Channel kind of way.

I dredged the heart pieces in flour and into a buttered frying pan they went. The recipe said that they should fry for 30-45 second per side, but I couldn’t even fit all the pieces in the pan at one time so I worked as fast as I could. Using my homemade beef stock and CSA box carrots, I added the rest of the ingredients and left it to simmer. It smelled fantastic!

Heart sliced...with artery example

It didn’t make a thickened sauce as much as I’d expected with the wine, beef stock and flour so it was a little thin. Wary of some comments on the recipe about the strong flavor not being for the faint of heart – um, hehe – I took my first taste. It required chewing but it wasn’t rubbery, which was good, and I didn’t think the flavor was that strong or undesirable, although it maybe did have a bit of an after taste. Test subject Bill said it reminded him of liver. (I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had liver. I know, I know…it’s on my list.)

 Test subject Bill went back for seconds, so I count it as a success. If I happen upon a heart again, though, I think I may use the crock pot to try to make it a little

Beef Heart Braised in Red Wine

more tender. I wonder how it would be with this homemade barbecue sauce I made recently…

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Bull Burger: Revenge!

Nothing could strike fear into the heart of a kid on the farm more than The Bull. The Bull was irritable, angered by even the sight of a kid on the pasture. Being chased down by The Bull would mean certain death, so you always had to be on your guard. My brother told me that if I got chased, that I should take my shirt off and throw it behind me because The Bull would stop to sniff it, giving me a chance to escape over the gate into the safety of the yard.

I don’t know if all that was true, but from my perspective as an eight year old it was and that was all that mattered. A few times I thought I felt The Bull looking at me, sending me on a wild sprint over the fence. Fear of the bull didn’t stop us from trekking accross the pasture to play in the creek, though. Neither did the threat of leeches or creepy crawdaddies (we called them crayfish in Iowa), but I digress.

Recently I procured some bull burger from Anthony Stokes from Stokes Family Farm. When a bull is “retired” (read: your calf makin’ days are over, buddy), you end up with bull burger, some of the tastiest, leanest hamburger I’ve ever had. It’s rare to come by the stuff, so I seized the opportunity to have some good eats and some pay back.

When I took the burger out of the package, the bright red color really struck me. This had to be good stuff. It smelled fresh and clean. I decided to make some chili before the weather warmed up too much and chili season was over. 

The beef was very flavorful just on its own. Stirred in with some bean-y goodness and served with corn bread made from cornmeal I got in my CSA box, it was the bomb. I used this recipe for the chili and it turned out really well. Of course, with top-notch ingredients like this, it’s hard to go wrong.

Bull burger chili and corn breadThe lesson learned: don’t chase me across the pasture, or I’ll EAT you.

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