Recipe: Random Hearts

30 May

Tarry a little, there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”

—The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1, 304-307

b copy I’ve been cooking the nasty bits. Chicken hearts, for the longest time, were something packaged in the carcass of a roast chicken. My dad used to cook the gizzards in butter, as a quick pre-dinner snack that until recently, I found kind of gross. Was I wrong. Chicken livers in butter are sinful. They’re gritty, fatty, with a melt-in-your-mouth richness, like bacon. While flipping through the “Bad Cuts” recipe section in Put A Egg On It, I came across a recipe for a heart and charred green bean salad. The hearts are only $3/lb, so my budget said yes, but something felt wicked about buying this kind of flesh in a plastic deli, like Shylock was going to be cooking dinner. It’s hard not to feel a little perverse about this situation.c

After cooking, the hearts took on a beefy taste that was almost like a hamburger. It’s a rare (forgive the pun) occasion when something chicken takes on a flavor that doesn’t “taste like chicken.” For future reference, hearts also cook very quickly. I had to do a very quick sear, otherwise the meat can take on the chewy consistency of a Pink Pet eraser. It’s a balanced dish: sharp bitterness of the radish, sweetness from the green beans, fatty umami from the hearts and shallots, and some acidity from a sherry-balsamic marinade that becomes the most boss reduction sauce.

Note: I made a number of subtractions and modifications to the original recipe.

1 pound chicken hearts, split in 2 lengthwise
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine (I used a Côtes du Rhône, which was a delicious pairing)
6 shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed into 2-inch lengths
1 bunch breakfast radishes, cuts into thin slices
1 bunch of parsley, washed, stems reserved and chopped.

Make the marinade: In a large mixing bowl, mix the vinegars and wines, 5 of the sliced shallots, sliced garlic and chopped parsley stems. Season the hearts with salt and pepper and marinate overnight.

Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of canola oil and swirl around (the pan is ready when drops of water “dance” on the surface. Sling in the green beans with a pinch of kosher salt. Cook beans until browned and smoky, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch the heat during this time, as the pan will very easily burn the beans. Remove from pan, let cool in a smaller bowl, and toss with radish, remaining sliced shallot and parsley leaves.

Turn the pan to medium-low heat. Using a strainer, drain off marinade from the hearts into the pan. Reduce the marinade pan along with the stems, shallots, and garlic; watch blood thicken reduction sauce and cackle wildly. Reduce by half, strain out the solids, and reserve in a ramekin.

Turn pan to high heat, add another 1/2 teaspoon of canola oil and sear the hearts quickly on all sides, reserve any fat or drippings from storage bowl. Sear in a few minutes, as you’ll want the hearts a little rare. To finish, add the reserved juice to deglaze the pan. Add the hearts to the reduced sauce in the ramekin and let cool. Throw the hearts and sauce into the bean salad and serve warm. Serve with toasted bread for wiping the plate clean.photo

All photos by Tommy Werner

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