Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Do you have the Heart?

Offal seems to be kind of coming back into fashion, although with some of us it never went out.
I know a lot of people who eat offal in restaurants, but refuse to cook it at home. Why? They say they are squeamish, hate the texture and the thought of touching a slimy product. Yuck. Oh boy.
But not only is offal high in vitamins, but it’s pretty damn cheap as well, and in these so called credit crunching times, (I want to shoot the person who came up with that saying) not only is it high in flavour, but low on the wallet too.
Offal is not that difficult to cook but it does require some respect and sometimes a little bit of pre planning and attention to detail, but the effort you put in is paid back to you in dividends in the end.
My favourite animal for offal is lamb. I love it, the kidneys, liver, and hearts. It’s amazing that from one small animal, its insides are so so good. Although lambs brains are the bottom of my list, after a dodgy episode in Kathmandu, which left me laid up for a week or two.
The offal from my other favourite eating animal, pig, which I find slightly too strong in flavour and not to my liking. For me lamb rocks. Although saying that, the liver from a baby tortured cow or calf is my favourite cut of all time. Dusted in flour, quickly fried in butter and served with peas and Jersey Royals. Heaven on a plate.
I was a fussy eating child, and would never eat any veggies at all. Those things changed as I grew up, although I still cannot stomach sprouts. But I did used to eat my dad’s lamb liver. Gorgeous.
I haven’t cooked hearts in a long time, but after seeing some for sale at the Ginger Pig in Borough Market. I had to grab a couple, and at 50p each. Cheapest dinner I’ll be cooking this week.

My normal way of cooking them is to give them a dusting of a Memphis bar-b-que rub. This I got it from a Steven Raichlen book. It works well and gives the heart a spicy note, which cuts through the fat a bit.
I’ve thought about stuffing and braising hearts, but I like them grilled. Pure and simple.
To prepare offal is pretty easy. I slice them in half from pole to pole. Give them a good rinse, getting rid of any traces of blood and cut away any sinew that will be there.
Then give them a thorough dusting of the rub, making sure every part is covered by the powder. Then place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge over night.

Before you cook them, make sure they are up to room temp before proceeding. After a bit of experimenting, I’ve found that about 2 or 2 ½ minutes each side will take them to about medium. Cooked but still nice and juicy.
As with meat you have to let them rest for a tad, then slice them and I serve with some sauté potatoes and a nice spicy salad. Yum yum yum.
So if you never tried hearts, give them a go….. 


Anonymous said...

god I love offal... my idea of heaven is a pan-fried chicken liver salad... oh the joy. When we were growing up my mum used to buy those chickens with the back of offal inside and she's roast the whole lot together, neck, heart, livers etc... don't think they come like that now!... anyway, great blog!

Mzungu said...

Had a salad of chicken gizzards in France once. Awesome.

Gourmet Chick said...

I think I am one of those people - I happily order offal in restaurants but have never cooked it at home!