Warning: Raw meat photo spoiler! Do not open if you are pregnant or otherwise do not want to see pictures of raw beef heart…
“What is that?” poor dear husband asked upon seeing this hunk of meat on the cutting board after a lovely dinner of summer hamburgers while the kids were at Grandma’s.
“Beef heart,” his knowing wife answered casually.
“Um, that looks disgusting.”
“So…” poor husband queried. “What exactly do you do with that?”
“Put it in stuff,” she said, avoiding eye contact.
“Like what?” came the wary “not-sure-if-I-really-want-to-know” question.
I love the look on my husband’s face. It’s the “Oh, man, I’ve been had!” sheepish and somewhat disgusted look.
“You mean I just had beef heart?” A deep sigh echoed in the kitchen. “Why can’t we be normal people?”
Don’t worry, he was still partially grinning and half kidding with that. I would have told him what was in the hamburgers had he asked. No secrets at the Kimball house, just some well-placed silence every so often.
We proceeded to chat as I ground the meat, giving the food processor a workout and a half. It likes to jump around the counter as it gets going.
I explained that I’d cook it up and freeze it and just put a little in anytime I used ground beef.
(More sighing.) “We are so weird.”
See, he uses the plural pronoun, which shows he’s really starting to take ownership of this lifestyle.
He reminds me often when I worry about what the kids will be offered to eat at neighbors’ houses or when I mention that both parents at such-and-such house drink Diet Coke: “Dear, just remember, we’re the weird ones here.” Oh. Right.
“So why do we want to eat beef heart?” he wondered as the knife slammed through fat and muscle.
Why Beef Heart is Healthy and Nutritious
I had to look it up, but here’s why:
- The beef heart has more protein than the rest of the cuts of the cow. How cool is that? (I was on a quest recently for real food protein sources, too!)
- Beef heart is high is B Vitamins, including folate, which is important for a healthy pregnancy.
- Beef heart is rich in Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, responsible for more energy, strengthening your immune system and acting as an antioxidant. CoQ10 also is pegged for preventing heart disease.
- Collagen and elastin, two nutrients that promote supple, wrinkle-free skin, are abundant in beef heart.
- Beef heart is also high in iron, selenium, and zinc, three nutrients that are often on the "I am deficient in…" list.
- The heart contains amino acids thought to improve metabolism.
- Sources: 1, 2
I’m sure all this would have impressed him, especially the part about all that protein, but I think I claimed that traditional diets always included the organ meats, and that shows their importance in a healthy diet.
“Also, it was free, because Mom doesn’t know what to do with this. Or the tongue,” I tossed out, waggling my eyebrows. “But don’t worry, that’s long gone!”
He knows when he’s been had. He doesn’t even remember eating the tongue. (We had beef tongue fajitas a month ago or more. He never knew, and I was smart enough –this time – not to tell the kids or Facebook about it until all the leftovers were demolished.)
What to do with a Cow’s Heart
Don’t sing a country song about it and break it into pieces…just break it into pieces without the country, thankyouverymuch.
The first time I got beef heart, it was ground, and using it was fairly easy.
The second time, I asked a friend to pick up some on a grassfed meat run, and she came back with an odd look on her face.
"Um…you know that cow heart you asked for? I’m not sure it came exactly how you suspected," she cringed as she pulled an item out of the bag that struck me as the size of a basketball.
"Yikes!" I cried. "That’s not ground! Maybe that’s why it was such a good price…"
Note: DO make certain your organ meats are organic and grassfed, please. The nutrient value is much higher and you don’t want toxins accumulating in the organs.
It wasn’t really as big as a basketball…more like a football…but nonetheless, that heart sat in my freezer staring at me and daring me to do something with it for quite a few months, until I finally decided I just needed to grind it up.
It’s really quite easy.
You just sort of hack it into pieces like so:
Put them into a food processor:
Turn it on and allow it to jump all over the counter, and then, ta da:
Ground beef heart.
You can freeze it in small portions, 1/4 lb. or less, raw, or you can cook it up:
And freeze it in very thin packages. That’s what I chose to do with this one, and then I’ll add it into anything that calls for ground beef. You can usually crack the cooked beef apart into smaller chunks that are a good size to toss into the pan with spaghetti, chili (Recipe available in The Everything Beans Book), casseroles, or soups. Use no more than one quarter of the total or it may change the taste too much; heart is a bit "sweet" compared to other cuts of ground beef.
One whole beef heart filled about three quart-sized bags of cooked meat, and I keep it in the upstairs freezer so it’s handy for any meal.
If you want to add it raw to hamburger, though, you’ll have to make burgers the day you have it all thawed and raw.
They’ll be delicious…and what a great topic of dinnertime conversation! (Ahem – wait until after dinner.)
What have you used beef heart for?
This post is part of a series on Sourcing Quality Animal Products.
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