Get right to the heart of matters, It’s the heart that matters more

Thanks to travelpod for the picture of a Peruvian Heart Skewer server on the streets

Looking to get a bit crazier in the next piece of meat you eat?  Let’s step it up a little bit and get to the blood pumper, the engine that drives the body, the soul of it all: the heart.

A little background first on heart for those ready to head out and eat something better or something you’re more comfortable with. Let’s start with this: you’ve probably eaten heart before without even knowing it. It’s quite possible in your fast food heyday that the taco from Taco Bell had a slight percentage (10-15%) of heart in it. According to Jeff Sindelar, University of Wisconsin meat extension specialist, the company is allowed to use up to 15 percent. And, since it is a cheap meat (because the demand is low), they take advantage.

Next, if you’re from Detroit or have ever had the honor of indulging yourself in any sort of coney dog or items with chili involved from Lafayette Coney Island or American Coney Island, you have had beef heart. Of course, that recipe emerged from the 1910s and 1920s, a time when organ meats were as common as regular ground beef is today.

And of course, if you’re from a place like Peru, beef heart is still commonplace. Peruvian dishes like to use beef heart and not in a way that hides the meat. Beef heart skewers can be found from street vendors and in many restaurants. Even in Madison, Wisconsin a Peruvian restaurant, Inka Heritage has the skewered beef, known as Anticuchos featured on the menu.

So what are the benefits of eating heart (besides being able to say you’ve got a lot of heart- awkward)?

Thanks to Kelly the Kitchen Kop, she helps lay out some of the benefits. These include the obvious heavy concentration of protein, but continue into more in depth benefits like B vitamins often found in offal meats, the much needed phosphorus and zinc, plus a lot of CoQ10- good for a lot of things according to Wikipedia.

Don’t forget the heart is a muscle, and one of the strongest for a body. That means it’s a leaner, less fatty meat.

And for those who don’t trust me, trust local Madison Chef Dan Fox, executive chef at the Madison Club. He says if he was limited to choices of offal meat to use in a meal, heart would be right up there.

“Heart I like to serve. I think that’s a very tasty part of the animal.” He says braising or roasting hearts

He also relayed a story that proves the theory, if you don’t have the mental image of what it is, it might not be so bad…

“We’ve served beef heart and called it beef skewers, I did it on purpose,” Dan told me. “We did the Best of Madison party and I put out very interesting things. One was a marinated beef heart skewer and all the salon stylists were up there like ohh that’s fantastic… Beef heart is very very good, but people just don’t want to try it.”

The best part of the story, Chef Fox never told the guests that they had just tasted beef heart, and probably for the first time. “They can just go on believing what they thought it was.”

And that’s the key for people trying foods they wouldn’t try because of the mental image. If you can trust where you get the meat from and the cook, it usually doesn’t matter what they’re using. And, Chef Dan wouldn’t risk the trust of the people who it his food. By taking a risk of serving beef heart to unsuspecting consumers, he didn’t put them in any danger and was willing to show them a world they never knew.

So you want to try beef heart?  Well, if you can find a Peruvian restaurant nearby they probably present a good opportunity. Or how about cooking it for yourself…

Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Chili Peppers
Beef Heart, Bacon, Butter and Onion

Beef Heart en Mole

And a whole lot more of them…