The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Grilled Beef Heart

July 4th, 2009 · 13 Comments · Posted in dinner, Recipes

Beef heart from our dairy

Beef heart from our dairy

I recently noticed beef heart for sale on our dairy’s website and was anxious to try it. Does the thought make you squeamish? You needn’t be. This is one fine piece of meat. As Fergus Henderson explains in his Nose to Tale Eating, the heart is “not, as you might imagine,tough as old boots due to all the work it does, but in fact firm and meaty but giving.”

A beef heart is large, about the size of a big canteloupe and weighing nearly four pounds. That’s a lot of meat. I followed Henderson’s simple recipe, cutting the heart crosswise into 1-inch slices, then marinating it for 24 hours with balsamic vinegar and some thyme sprigs.

Simply grilled

Simply grilled

I built a hot fire on my charcoal grill. The marinated heart slices take on rustic markings and cook up quickly.

Looks and tastes like tenderloin

Looks and tastes like tenderloin

The finished heart came out perfectly medium-rare . It looked and tasted like tenderloin. I served it sliced next to the braised kale we made earlier and a delicious Zinfandel, a Carol Shelton 2004 Maple Zin that our friend Mary had brought from California. My wife, ever sensitive to textures, thought the heart was a little too chewy and passed. Most people, I think, would easily mistake this for a premium steak.

If we are going to kill animals, we should follow Fergus Henderson’s example and eat the whole thing. Looks like I’ll be eating heart for the rest of the week.

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  • TNLocavore

    I think it’s great that you’re trying to use every part of the animal. Most people forget that there’s more to cows than steaks, roasts and hamburgers. My favorite “weird” cuts of meat are lamb ribs. They’re usually very cheap and they’re wonderful if you braise them a bit to get some of the fat off and then grill them

  • Our Natural Life

    Great post! I love Ferguson’s cookbook and believe in head to tail eating. Will see about getting a heart with our next CSA delivery. Right now we have lamb ribs and beef tongue marinating and thawing for a visit to the smoker this afternoon. I also enjoy liver, sweetbreads, and kidney when we can find them. Linton Hopkins, a local chef, can do amazing things with beef tendon. Nothing goes to waste! Traditional people always prized the organ meats most and often threw the muscle meat to the dogs. It is a shame that they are not more a part of American diets.

  • onebusymama

    Great recipes, thanks! I’ve always cooked heart the same way I cook my liver but this sounds much better 🙂 We eat the whole animal here also, in fact I plan on rendering some pork lard tomorrow!

  • kitchenkungfu

    Wow, I never thought I’d look at beef heart and think, “mmm, good eats.” Thanks for the eye-opening (er, mouth-opening?) blog. I will not be afraid of heart if I see it.

  • danaseilhan

    There’s a rancher who sells at the North Market here in Columbus (Ohio), and I think his stuff is all grass-fed, non-CAFO. Anyway, he sells heart at 99 cents a pound. I don’t *remember* the last time I saw beef at 99 cents a pound. I’ve been afraid to try it, though, because I heard it was strong-tasting and I already struggled with liver when I was a kid. I may just cave in to temptation and try this recipe you’ve posted. Thank you.

    The other thing I thought about doing with it if I got brave enough was to grind it together with some other cut of beef so as to produce enriched ground beef. Your way is probably better as it would reduce the possibility of overcooking.

  • danaseilhan

    Oh, and Our Natural Life: It depends on which indigenous people you’re talking about. I heard the Inuit used to feed most of the organs (except heart and kidneys, I think) to their dogs. They kept the fat and I guess some of the muscle meat for themselves. I heard it said that they wouldn’t eat most organs unless they were facing starvation, and if that were the case then the dogs would go next.

    Probably it depended on the group. But you’re right that no self-respecting carnivorous native would have eaten just the lean muscle. That’s begging for rabbit sickness.

  • Ed Bruske

    TN, finding offal at our local dairy was a great discovery. I have a hankering for sweet breads. I wish there were a selection of this meats at the farmers market.

    Natural, it used to be you could find all sorts of great smoked meats, such as tongue, at the butcher’s or the local delil. People thought I was totally strange cooking tongue. But I saw a smoked version at Wagshal’s yesterday when I went to purchase my corned beef. I’d like to start making my own bacon as well.

    OBM, all credit to Fergus. I wouldn’t have had any idea how to cook my heart without him.

    Kungfu, I think you will like heart. Great flavor, but as my wife says, just a bit of chew. Don’t overcook it.

    Dana, you’re right: That is a bargain. Give heart a try. I don’t find it gamey. It might be just a tad stronger than a fine tenderloin, a slight livery undertone, but not strong. Definitely something to consider for hamburger if that’s your inclination. Terrific protein.

  • PocoChica

    Love the recipe. Love beef heart and venison too for that matter. The best way I’ve ever had beef heart was stuffed with traditional bread stuffing and baked. Very yummy.
    If you’ve never tried organ meat or feel a bit squeamish or find it too strong in bitterness, especially liver. Try soaking it for an hour(overnight is fine) in milk first before cooking. Liver also tastes yummy when quickly fried, lightly browned at high heat on both sides in bacon grease. The bacon grease and milk soaking has converted many previous liver haters at my table. Also, for all organ meat if frying or grilling, please try not to overcook. It cooks quickly too. Always remove when rather pink inside(chicken liver needs to be cooked through). All meats will continue to cook for a few minutes once removed. Let it rest before carving and serving, to prevent premature release of the juices.
    Anyhow, discovered this sight looking for beef kidney recipes. Really like your list of favorite things to do. Right up my alley down to the flea markets and used books. lol Another tip. If your local grocer/butcher/farm has a certain day that they get in whole carcasses. Mention it before hand to them what organ meat you are interested in. You might be surprised….probably not, but they throw most organ meat away. A lot of these folks would just love to find one more thing that they can sell. Heck, I’ve even had one butcher give me for free, all of his beef kidneys because he thought no one would ever buy them. Never hurts to ask. Organ meat is good for you and your wallet. Have a great day!

  • Susan

    Actually, if you fry the Cow’s heart with onions and garlic and then slow cook it for about an hour…it is not chewy at all and definitely looks like and taste like Filet Mignon 🙂

  • Linda

    Can you cook a beef heart in crock pot and make BBQ out of it??

  • Ed Bruske

    Linda, I have to think that what you are suggesting would probably turn out a disaster. The heart is one of the leanest muscles on the cow. What you want for slow cooking and barbecue are cuts with lots of fat, such as the shoulder (pork barbecue, beef chuck). No, I think the heart is best cooked quickly over high heat–in other words, grilled. If you want beef barbecue in your slow cooker, try a chuck roast or a piece of brisket.

  • April_tomorrow

    Hello, thank you for the recipe! I also love beef heart and usually make it the peruvian way with their red pepper paste and vinegar marinade. I have relocated to DC a few years ago and heaving trouble finding organ meats. Especially my beloved sweetbreads! can’t find them anywhere. Do you know of a place that sells them? Thanks

  • Ed Bruske

    We got our beef heart from South Mountain Creamery, a Maryland dairy that delivers a range of farm products in the DC metro area. You could try the butchers at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.