Archive | heart RSS feed for this section

Ox Heart Carpaccio

17 Oct

When you need a quick lunch at work, why don’t more people take a chunk of offal and a lime?

A question indeed. With all the talk of ceviche and the explosion of sushi in popularity, why isn’t carpaccio and tartare more routine? I don’t the answer, but I thought I’d try an alternative lunch last week and have some ox heart carpaccio. Queue: one lump beef, a tupperware, things to marinade.

I took my chunk of ox heart (read about that here) to work, chopped it into a size I would call a morsel, then squeezed a lime over the top and shook a bit of green tabasco on top. This was my pack-up. The tabasco is still in my bag and has come in handy on more than one occassion since. Always be prepared. The idea was in my 15 minute break, to have a healthy snack of heart and an orange. Main and pudding.

Here is the heart, immediately after being prepared:

And look at the difference:

It REALLY does cook the meat. This particular lunchtime I had to go back on the shop floor, so it marinaded for a bit too long I think (20 mins) – I think 10 mins would have been better. BUT it was well delicious. I added some Beauty Oil to the carpaccio mix. It was delightful. Obviously I wouldn’t eat this every day, but I would recommend trying it.

Maybe days when you need some extra iron? Or if you had a steak, you could trim a bit of and use it like this. Summer food. Hearty food. *pun intended*

For me, it was an experiment that went well. Try it and see!

Advertisements

Oxheart Revisited

15 Oct

I bloody love Brideshead. So does my friend Lauren. And on the last hot day of summer, we were finally converted to the baroque.

By Brisdeshead, I obviously mean the 1981 BBC version. Nothing else will do. I’m not sure if its Jeremy ‘rubs-thighs’ Irons, or the Oxford connection, or the phrase “I’m sorry about your pig”, but together it is sublime. Castle Howard is really the star though – much more than Jezza, or even ole Gielgud.

The other excitement waiting for me at Castle Howard was the butchery there, where they claim to have a good range of offal. FYI they do. And the butchers are lovely! And I got a haul of black pudding, sausages and … an ox heart!

A breakfast of kings went down the following day. But I was most excited about the ox heart! From the estate. Imaginary Catholic-guilt-wine-tasting-idolent-summer-interwar-halcyon-days-heart. Hearts are big. I really wanted to treat the Bridey (the heart) nicely, so decided to treat Bridey as if the cut was a roasting one – but pot-roasting.

First you have to prepare your heart. Abattoirs slash all hearts to check that they are healthy, so it does sort of butterfly open already. Remove the bits of sinew.

Here I am pulling the sinewy heart strings out. Pulling on Bridey’s heart strings. (I wouldn’t actualy sigh over Bridey, but I like the sound/concept.)

Did you know you can put your fist through the blood vessel of a cow? I didn’t until I tried. That’s how big cows are. Massive.

They were a couple of other things I wanted to do with my heart, as well as roasting it, so I sliced a nice muscular part of it off, for a rainy day … you’ll see what I mean …

Next was time to cook my heart. I used the slow cooker. I mean, why wouldn’t you? A better term if you don’t have a slow cooker would be casseroled whole heart, I guess. The idea is to cook a whole heart and then serve it as if its a joint (practise for Christmas really).

What I did was to put the heart in the slow cooker, cover it with water (maybe only just, so a little sneaky bit of heart peeps above the surface) and then cooked it on high for 6 hours. You can see its lying on a bed of onions, carrots and swede. There’s also quite a lot of fresh rosemary tucked around. Snuggly. Turn it over half way through the cooking time.

 

Here I am, doing some carving. Heart makes lovely slices. If I ran a delicatessen counter, I would totally sell slices of cold heart. (Puns about that on a postcard – or the comments – please …)

As you can see, a lovely gravy is made by the veg and the meat together, nothing else added.

Check the grain of that meat out! And it was super tasty. And only a few ingredients. Simple, delicious snackage. The heart was fresh and tender and tasted beefy. BEEFY. But in quite a sophisticated way. I will definitely cook ox heart again. I think it is my favourite of all the hearts.

You can also use it cold in sandwiches. Here is my train baguette. Baguette de coeur de boeuf. Baguette de coeur de boeuf de la Castle ‘Oward.*

 

Castle Howard (*cough cough* Brideshead) suits me, doesn’t it?**

*Can you tell my French is less good than my German – Blutpfankuchen indeed!

** I just realised and stood in front of the sign that said son’t stand on the steps. Sorry. Don’t do that.

 

Moroccan Stuffed Spleen

9 Sep

Have you ever eaten spleen? I hadn’t until my recent visit to John Penny where I got given a fresh beef spleen to cook with. Prior research from the Offal Club’s page suggested from their experience that spleen was gross. Anissa Helou has a few recipes in The Fifth Quarter for it, which all sound very amazing, so I was excited again. Then I read in Jennifer McLagan’s Odd Bits that she expected that “if you like liver you’ll probably like spleen”. Damned by faint praise indeed. Never one to be deterred I got my spleen out and looked at it. The spleen looked back.

More disturbingly – how filthy was my cooker that day? What a slut! And look how long a spleen is. Long. So what does a spleen do? I always find that thinking about how the organ works can help you get to know how it might be nicely cooked. A spleen:

“… is an organ found virtually all vertebrate mammals. Similar in structure to a large lymph node, the spleen acts primarily as a blood filter. It is a non-vital organ, with a healthy life possible after removal (splenectomy). The spleen plays important roles in regard to red blood cells and the immune system. It also acts as a store of blood in case large amounts are lost. The word comes from the Greek ‘splen’ which is the rough equivalnet of heart – so to be good-spleened in Greek means to be good-hearted. In French, ‘splenetique’ refers to a state of pensive sadness or melancholy.”

Of course that infomation is from wikipedia. Importantly it tells us two things: the first is that as a filter, the texture will be spongy; secondly that if you eat it Greece you’ll be happy, while if you eat it in France you’ll be sad.

Taking the Mediterranean as a theme I used Anissa Helou’s recipe for Moroccan Stuffed Spleen as a guideline to work from, but incorporated EXTRA OFFAL into the recipe. That’s right. Offal stuffed with other offal. Just like a cheap sausage. Or not.

Beef spleens are huge, so I only used half of this one. Due to the nature of stuffing as a premise, I chose to use the fat end. So if you’re cooking along with this, cut your spleen in half, freeze the thin end and then we’ll peel the membrane off the fat end.

Removing membrane from spleen is not very easy. In fact, it’s quite hard for a novice like me to do. There was some fruity language and I cut my fingers a few times. There is an outer one and an inner one (or so it seemed to me). The outer one peels away using your fingers OK.

I tried a few different ways of getting rid of the inner membrane, but the one that worked best for me, was to pinch a bit of it up and to use a knife between the membrane and the flesh to almost chip away at it in small, frequent movements. (There was meant to be a video, but I deleted the wrong file from my phone, so you actually have five second shot of the inner spleen and it’s stupid clinging membrane.)

Once you’ve removed it – or if you’re clever – ask your butcher to do it for you (if you have one), but once it is removed you make a horizontal cut most of the way through (but not the whole way) parallel to the top and bottom of it. Your stuffing will go in this pouch.

Yup, TRIPLE OFFAL STUFFING WITH PORCINI. You can of course see some chopped lamb heart, some chopped lamb sweetbreads and some rehydrated chopped porcini. The porcini had arrived that very day in my foodie penpals package. I mixed these all together with 5 crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 2 teaspoons of paprika. Then I shoved it in the spleen pocket, rubbed the pocket with oil and baked it in the oven at gas mark 4 for 40 minutes.

This is pre-cooking – looks pretty nice doesn’t it?

Well, by this point, after all this effort, I was very hungry indeed. And how was the spleen. To me, inedible. That was the saddest part, despite loving liver I just couldn’t cope with the texture of the spleen – think liver but with lots of fibres running the wrong way through it. I couldn’t eat mine – I was clearly in France. Daz said it was OK – so he’s in Switzerland (is that half way between France and Greece? I’m thinking diagonally). The stuffing was amazeballs though. If you take one things away from this – heart, thyroid and porcini is a GRRRRRRRRREAT combination.

If I’d got the spleen from a butcher I might have thought that it had been hanging around a while. But since I SAW THE SPLEEN COME OUT THE BEAST THAT MORNING, it can’t be that. I’m plumping for spleen being better slow cooked (so the fibres can melt down some) – I’m thinking maybe some spleen and kidney pudding? Would that be nice? Spleen, kidney and porcini pudding? I have a feeling a slow-cooked spleen has fabulous gravy potential.

But despite the loveoly ingredients, I had to perform a splenectomy on my meal (LOLZ). Have you cooked spleen? I’ll have a little poll of the suet pudding …

And I promise to attempt to cook what you decide!

Lincolnshire Haslet – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 14

16 May

Wow. The last day of nose to tail fortnight and my eating along the animal challenge.

How do I feel? Full of meat. I’ve got a craving for cauliflower.

How far along the animal did I get? All the way, baby!

Here is the full nose to tail body part list: pig head, cow foot, pig lung, cow heart, deer kidney, chicken liver, cow stomach, lamb testicle, pig trotter, cow tail, sausages and caul fat.

Haslet seemed a fitting way to end my nose to tail fortnight. Here is what wikipedia says:

Haslet, also spelt ‘Acelet’, is a porkmeatloaf with herbs originally from Lincolnshire, England. The name is derived from the Old Frenchhastilles meaning entrails[1].

In Lincolnshire, haslet (pronounced hayzleht locally), is a meatloaf typically made from stale white bread, ground pork, sage, salt and black pepper.[2] It is typically served cold with pickles and salad, or as a sandwich filling.[citation needed]

Basically it is offal and off-cuts ground up with sage, salt and pepper; the pressed out of it; wrapped in caul fat; then baked. I haven’t tried to make it myself, mostly because Hargreaves of Spalding make the best ones and I try to alway have one in my Leeds-based freezer. It freezes really well and defrosts gently over-night.

I like to eat the end slices by themselves. As well as eating it cold, you can also fry it up and have it warm. A very versatile pork product indeed. The top should be a darker colour (due to the baking). If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see the pattern of the caul fat on the top. The caul keeps the haslet bound together.

In my sandwich on Sunday, I added fresh sage leaves and a few leaves of Jack-by-the-hedge. That made an excellent sandwich.

Don’t buy the stuff from the supermarket deli counter. It is minging. If you do, I’ll play you this Cyndi Lauper clip very early in the morning, so you faint from over-exposure to Shaggy. That’s real threat.

If you’d like to try a proper one, it can be arranged. You can either find a proper Lincolnshire butcher (if he doesn’t rub his hands together, he’s not the real deal) or send me a message and I can be your dealer.

Another Lincolnshire delicacy to try is Stuffed Chine. Shaggy loves it.*

 

*I imagine he does.

Roast Veal Heart, stuffed with Spring, wrapped in Vine Leaves – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 7

7 May

Yesterday we had quick-cooked veal heart. Today we had slow cooked veal heart. Me and Mr Stupendous Snooker think that this is the best veal heart recipe we’ve done yet.

For me it was a couple of firsts. I’d never roasted a heart before. I’d never made stuffing from scratch before either. Neither had I put a bin bag on the floor to do cooking and baking on so I didn’t miss very much of the snooker.So this was my set-up:

What you can see on the floor is a bowl of Spring stuffing, a crock pot, a heart , a lemon, a packet of breadcrumbs (I am bad), a grater, tomato puree and the round things to the back are raw cookies, waiting to go in the oven. I thought the bin bag idea was GENIUS.

To the recipe – if you don’t have a heart that you’ve already taken the chamber walls out of, then do so. Or get your butcher to do it. If you haven’t and don’t want to do it yourself. Don’t worry, you can put the stuffing in each chamber and have a multi-chambered heart. Like a tomb. If you need to trim any tubes or gristle from your heart, do so now.

Next make the stuffing. I called it Spring stuffing because I wanted really fresh and zingy flavours to go with the taste of the veal.

You want to mix together:

  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • zest of 1 massive lemon and its juice
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • a few shakes of Magi seasoning (or Worcester or soy sauce)
  • 1 heaped tsp dried parsley
  • torn leaves of most of a supermarket basil plant
  • one large mushroom (grated on the zester)
  • one stick celery (ditto)

Mix it all together, it will go a bit sticky. If you don’t think your lemon is large enough (look at the corker in the picture), then use two.

You will now need a packet of vine leaves and string.

First stuff the cavity/ies of your heart. Hold it together in your hands and then gradually wrap vine leaves around it. If you’re having trouble holding it together, tie it up with string. Then wrap the vine leaves around it. The vine leaves will help to keep the heart moist while it is roasting in the oven. If you don’t want to include them, wrap the heart in bacon and make sure it is covered with foil.

So wrap the vine leaves around the heart. I used most of the packet, you want the layer to be quite think so the leaves closest to the heart impart all their flavour to the meat. We’ve done this vine leaf trick before on pheasants and it really does make them lovely. You could do it on a chicken!

Then tie everything together with string again. I went for the three strands approach, you can use as much as you like.

Pop it in your pan and roast in the oven for 2 half to 3 hours. The temperature should be a Gas Mark 4 (190C).

And that’s what you end up with. I carved it laterally, so the slices had stuffing in the middle. YUM! We ate some with kale and broccoli in the evening and there was enough left for both of us to have cold for lunch the following day.

Six meals. One heart. True Love.

Or something.

Stir-fried Veal Heart – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 6

5 May

Now we moved more towards the middle of the animal, things are going to get cooked in a less linear order. This is because I am defrosting a lot of the offal now (there was a freezer accumulation) and it all depends on what I pull out.

Now we are in the innards of the animal, and pretty much all we’ll eat over the next couple of days will be organ-licious. The variety, however is hugely surprising.

Before we get to the veal heart of the matter – a word about lunch. Today we double offalled. Oh yes. Two organs, one day. All the win. For lunch we chicken liver curry. This was one of the first things I cooked with offal and because I live in the curry-capital that is Leeds, spicy chicken livers are on a lot of menus. Today we had a curry that channelled a bit of Africa as I used again some of the spices that I got sent in my first foodie penpals package. Today I used the Hot Chilli Pepper (it is super hot) and some Cameroon Pepper (which tastes a bit smoky). These along with ginger, chilli flakes and garlic made something pretty hot (but not too hot for me). I didn’t take a picture because for me now, it’s a pretty normal thing to cook and I’m sure I’ve made it and not blogged about it. It was good. It looked like a typical tomato-based curry, but with chicken livers in.

For supper, the Beautiful Man and I were slightly more adventurous and chose to make a couple of meals out of our de-frosted veal heart (from the lovely Heaves Farm Veal). So there’ll be another post about the Grand Plan tomorrow. I’ve cooked heart before (it was 2 for 1 when I got the hearts) so this time I had an idea of what I was meant to be doing. The heart has several chambers and for dinner tonight I was taking out the meat that makes the walls of the heart and chopping it up for stir fry. Most hearts you buy (I am led to believe) are already slit so the abattoir vetenery officer can check the animals health. This makes our job easier. Key to understanding where to cut is handling the organ, understanding where the chambers are and where you need to cut. Again, like the testicles, it’s quite intuitive.

Once you’ve cut the chamber walls out, slice them fairly thinly, bite-sized pieces I think. Then I marinaded the meat. I think this helped to tenderise it.

For the marinade:

1 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp ras el hanout, 1 tsp harissa, 3 tbsp orange juice, 1 wedge of lemon squeezed in.

Mix all these together with the heart in a bowl. Leave to stand for twenty minutes.

All there was then left to do was make some egg-fried rice (this was incidentally the first time me or the Wondrous Male had made egg-fried rice – all the experiementation) and stir-fry on a high heat the heart for five minute or less.

So there you go. The exciting thing that I’m taking away from this is that heart can be lovely if you just cook it fast. After Valentine’s Day (which was good) I felt like I’d lost a bit of my heart confidence. But it’s back now! So, next time you’re making stir-fry and shopping in Morrisons put up a pack of heart there.

Just so you haven’t lost track of our pace along the animal – here is my up-to-date diagram again:

As you can tell, I’m not a graphic designer, or any sort of artist. The green bits are testicles. (The lady cow is now a gentleman cow btw. I don’t think that’s because too much offal was eaten. That was BSE.) There’s an extra species listed type listed too! Hurrah!

This old of heart of mine …

13 Apr

After Valentine’s Day Heart Steak, the heart steak was casseroled. I am a big fan of the slow cooker. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that if you can’t slow cook it, I’m not interested, but sometimes I feel pretty close to that.

Another part of my cookery love is using aromatherapy essential oils in baking (and other recipes). You need to be careful to only add really small amounts, else the taste is super strong, but I’ve made a lot of very successful shortbread – frankincense and lavender were both pretty well received! Cakes also benefit, and rose absolute though very expensive gets that rose deliciousness spot on. In England, we get the therapeutic benefits from using the oils on the skin, whereas in France the benefits are gained from ingestion. I’ve not done this, and I don’t think anyone should without proper advice and guidance. Highly diluted, I’ve found they work well, however I’ve not experimented beyond tiny* amounts of fennel oil in curries. Continuing on with my romantic theme I used vetiver and jasmine oil. These are both relaxing scents and can act as aphrodisiacs. Ooh errr … For more on the essential oil, see good old Neals Yard.

So, in a classic Lucy fashion, chuck all these ingredients into a slow cooker:

2tsp paprika, 1 tsp crushed juniper, 1 drop jasmine oil, 1 drop vetiver oil, 2tbsp jasmine flowers, half pint pale ale, 250g sliced chestnut mushrooms, 1 diced turnip, 600g sliced veal heart (approx)

Cook on high from morning til evening.

Devour. Maybe with some rice. Or mash.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, treat the ingredients like a normal casserole. The strips of heart will need a good four hours of solid casseroling.

There was so much heart casserole, that my beloved and I had to come up with new ways of eating the casseroled heart. One was to make lunchtime tortilla wraps sometimes in a burrito style. Take a wrap, add some salad and some sour cream, maybe some green tabasco, add the heart strips, wrap and nom. Delicious.

I am going to experiment further with cold offal. I’m all over the cooked tongue, but have always disliked pate (bleurgh), do you think a solitary cold kidney would be nice? Do you have any cold offal recipes?

*Tiny means dipping a cocktail stick in, taking it out, then stirring it through the sauce, then discarding. Much much less than a single drop. See Aroma-essence, Gritman and  Essential Oil Cookbook. You can make mean flavoured shortbreads by adding one drop of whatever oil to the creamed butter and sugar part of the mix. Do be careful. The essential oil cooking tips have been fine for me and my friends, but our stomachs aren’t sensitive. So you watch out. Or get in touch if you have any questions.