The heart may best be described as one of the most unloved cuts of beef. This is a shame because when cooked right it can make a flavoursome and inexpensive hearty meal to feed several people (excuse the pun!)
If your only experience of offal has been eating liver and you’ve been put off by its earthy, minerally taste, rest assured these flavours are less pronounced in the heart. It tastes a lot closer to conventional cuts of beef. The heart, after all, is a muscle just like any other and in many respects should be treated the same.
In the past, we sold the hearts whole and unprepared, but they now come prepared and in half. Our butcher has done a great job removing the arteries and blood vessels so there is very little prep work to do.
Time 1 hour 10 mins
2 halves of beef heart
1 pack of bacon
1 bag of mushrooms, chopped into small cubes
Butter and vegetable oil, for frying
The heart must be at room temperature before you start. Please allow plenty of time to defrost and come up to temperature. If it still feels a little cold when touching it with the back of your hand, it’s not quite ready. We really can’t stress this enough, making sure the middle isn’t cold ensures an even cook throughout that will prevent the outside becoming too tough and the inside becoming undercooked.
The heart halves come prepared so there is little prep work to do. They may still have a large covering of muscle fat on them. Feel free to trim this off if you prefer, especially if the fat looks on the tough side.
On medium-high heat fry the bacon in a small amount of butter in a heavy-based pan or cast-iron skillet until it’s nice and crispy.
Whilst the bacon is cooking blanch the greens in salted boiling water for two minutes, then refresh under cold water and squeeze dry. (Squeeze hard if using spinach to remove as much moisture as possible and prevent sogginess)
Set the bacon aside once cooked, then fry the mushrooms in the bacon fat, adding more butter as required.
Chop the bacon into small pieces, similar in size to the mushrooms, and do the same to the greens. Mix everything in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 150 C/ gas mark 2. Add another knob of butter and a splash of vegetable oil to the same pan or skillet and fry the heart halves on the outer side and edges. Leave the inner side uncooked - this is where you will add the filling. Fry for approximately 4 minutes in total until browned.
Remove the two halves from the pan and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, lift the biggest half onto a plate and place butcher’s twine underneath. Spoon the filling on top of the biggest half and pack into any crevices or flaps on the uncooked sides of both halves. Place the smaller half on top and tie together with the twine.
Place onto a wire rack set over a baking tray and transfer to the oven. Roast the heart for 40 minutes for medium-rare or longer if you prefer. Don’t let it roast for too long as the meat does need to be pink otherwise, it becomes very chewy.
Serve with all the trimmings found in your North Aston veg box
Leftovers tip – You may find the recipe has made too much stuffing for one heart. These extra bacon-mushroom-green bits could be served alongside the roasted heart, but they also make a fantastic filling for a toasted sandwich.
Make one with two slices of toasted Heyford sourdough, lashings of butter, and a dollop of Ma’amalady apple chutney. Heck, you could even add some melted Bix cheese in there if you were feeling particularly decadent! ... and wash it all down with a glass of Tiddly Pommes apple juice.