Anyone who knows me knows that I hate to be trendy, but as far as food trends go, I’m all in on the offal or nose to tail cooking movement championed by chefs such as Feargus Henderson, Chris Consentino, and Andrew Zimmern. What’s not to like? I mean we’re always going to have steaks and pork chops and chicken breast, but there are some great alternative protein sources out there that are 1) readily available; 2) very affordable (for now); and 3) even very healthy.
One such alternative food source that I love to make at home is beef heart. Beef heart is super lean, very rich (almost livery, but inherently very beefy), tender, and surprisingly forgiving when cooked (especially considering how lean it is). Very recently I had my neighbors over for dinner, and the husband, a somewhat picky eater (when it comes to offal or non-traditional meats, but a pretty adventurous eater otherwise), really enjoyed the beef heart I prepared (though we told him it was beef heart after he had several bites).
Since the meat is rather lean, I like to give it a marinade, usually with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and maybe a little acid. In my most recent preparation of beef heart (prepared on a weeknight after work), I prepared a quick paste of olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, Mexican oregano, and ground pasilla and New Mexico chiles. I then grilled the massive beef heart (3-4lbs) on my weber kettle by searing on the hot part of the grill, and then cooking with indirect heat, covered for about 15 minutes. After I let the heart rest I served it with roasted sweet potatoes and sauteed onions and peppers.
The meal couldn’t be easier, and while people don’t eat beef hearts that often (yet), I always find them at my local Publix for about a $1.00 per pound (for now). That’s unbelievable value for such high quality protein, and you are not sacrificing anything in the taste department. Also a quick check on the internet tells me that beef heart only has 127 calories and 4g of fat for a 4oz serving. That beats the hell out of bland and boring bonless, skinless, and mostly tasteless chicken breast.