I didn’t have any new bright ideas for paleo/primal-friendly desserts for Valentine’s Day this year. Instead of baking hearts, we ate a heart. From a cow. Really.
Let me be clear…this is new territory. In the past three years of exploring the primal diet and lifestyle, I have been avoiding the organs** and uncommonly eaten innards. There’s just so much else out there that is more easily palatable, I figured, why bother?
We are coming to the end of our 1/2 cow we bought last year and one of the remaining items was its heart, almost four pounds of nutrient dense meat. The question is, how to prepare it in a way that the rest of the family (and me!) will enjoy it? Valentine’s Day seemed the perfect catalyst to dive in and give the heart a chance.
To start the adventure, I consulted one of my favorite cookbooks that my husband gave me a couple years ago, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Sally explores many unique sources of natural nutrition and has a lifetime of great ideas in one collection. To prepare beef heart, she recommends a Peruvian Antichuchos recipe starting with a long marinade. This is what I came up with:
- 1 beef heart, trimmed and cleaned of hard parts and excess fat, cut in cubes
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup vinegar (I used half raw apple cider, half white balsamic)
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp raw honey
Start with partially frozen (half thawed) beef heart for easier cutting. Trim excess fat and hard parts that don’t look appetizing. Cut into small cubes. Combine marinade ingredients in bag or bowl, add meat and marinade for at least 4 hours or up to 24. Place meat on skewers and grill on outdoor grill or sauté in pan over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Ensure not to over-cook. Transfer meat to plate. In same pan, add wine, balsamic vinegar and honey. Bring to quick boil and simmer for a few minutes until liquids start to evaporate. Pour over beef heart cubes. Serve with toothpicks as an appetizer or as a main dish with a plate of cauliflower rice or your favorite roasted veggies.
The results were interesting. It was like a dense steak with a stronger flavor, but it wasn’t as potent as liver. The biggest surprise was my five year old eating at least 1/4 of the plate – he ignored the beef stew I made (as a back-up!) and ate bite after bite of beef heart. Later he asked if he could have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so he could get super strong.
Overall, we enjoyed trying something new and uniquely wholesome. In the end, the consensus was we probably won’t go out searching for beef heart as a regular staple, but we certainly won’t be afraid to use it with the next cow! For other ideas try: subbing for beef cubes in a stew recipe or grinding it up in the food processor with some of the extra trimmed fat and making burgers. If you don’t want to use the whole heart at a time, freeze cubes or ground heart in small batches to sneak in recipes for an extra nutrient boost to your regular beef recipes.
If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try! Let us know how you liked it in the comments below. If you’re already a heart lover, what are your favorite ways to prepare it?
Share your heart with someone you love!
**The numerous benefits of organ meat are hard to ignore: higher protein content, abundant vitamins and minerals, double elastin and collagen content, metabolism boosters, rich in dynamic antioxidant CoQ10, source of the “X factor” Vitamin K2, and more. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous, find a great recipe and give it a chance!