Though I’m writing this in January, You’ll be reading it in the sweetheart month, February. Everything’s already coming hearts. My grandson, James, did the grocery shopping for me, and brought home something not on the list I gave him. It was half a beef heart, just under eight ounces of super-lean meat, once I’d trimmed off the hard fat on the outside. In my many decades of cooking, this was a challenge I’d never met before.
Naturally, I consulted the cook’s bible, Joy of Cooking. Not much there, though I consulted both my facsimile of the first edition, a recent gift from grandson James, and my well-worn copy of the 915 page edition that came out in 1975. There was one recipe for baked, stuffed heart, but I had only half a heart, and a small one at that. Joy of Cooking deals with a “4 to 5 pound heart” that serves 6. Besides that stuffed heart recipe required 4 strips of bacon, which we didn’t have on hand, and sends the cook flipping back a couple of hundred pages for the stuffing recipe, and then farther back for a gravy recipe. Plainly, though it would extend my bit of meat to accessorize it with these, that choice was not option.
So, I would just have to wing it. A heart is all tough muscle. It’s very solid fat is on the outside where it’s easily spotted and cut off. Joy recommended boiling the meat 3 to 4 hours. I preferred to shorten the cooking time by cutting the meat in ½-inch cubes and marinating it overnight. Here is my marinade. It works for any tough beef.
1 fat or 2 not so fat garlic cloves, minced
3 sliced ginger root, minced (never mind peeling)
2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Add the diced beef heart. Sprinkle generously with meat tenderizer. Toss well. Refrigerate overnight.
Place the meat in a steamer rack above ¾-inch of boiling water. Cover the kettle and put the heat setting on Mark 4. Check every half hour and pour in more boiling water to replace the water lost to steam.
James took over the steaming of the heart. For it to become tender took 2 ½ hours despite the tenderizing, marinating, and careful steaming. Was it worth the trouble? You bet! The meat was totally delicious. By steaming, not boiling, we retained all the flavor.