Grilled Marinated Calf’s Heart

This is a wonderfully simple, delicious dish, the heart not, as you might imagine, tough as old boots because of all the work it does, but in fact firm and meaty but giving.

As a special and quick Valentine’s Day update, I figured I should make something appropriate. What could possibly be more romantic than a heart?

I was so shocked to find half a calf’s heart at my local supermarket that I did a little dance in the meat department. I’m sure that I had more than a few people slowly back away, but considering how tough it has been finding some of these cuts of meat I’d like to think I was justified.

In the recipe, Mr. Henderson asks for one to remove any excess fat and sinew. With the heart being cut in twain by the butchers, my job was significantly easier as most of the sinew and silverskin had already been cut off.

Moments later the heart looked like slices of lean flank steak.

Into the bowl went the heart, some salt and pepper, a bunch of thyme and a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar. This was covered tightly and left in the fridge overnight.

Since the slices were a bit small for my grill, I dropped them on a very hot cast iron grill skillet.

The heart plated with a salad of raw leek and vinaigrette. The meat was almost identical to flank steak in flavor and texture. It was surprisingly tender, and I could cut the squares with a butter knife.

This has been one of the easiest and most rewarding dishes from the book so far. I forgot to mention that I paid a whopping total of a dollar and twenty five cents for the heart half. If you want to cook on a budget and still eat well, look no further than a nice calf heart.

Happy Valentines day!

One down, one hundred and twenty seven to go.

Rolled Pig’s Spleen

People venting their spleens has been bad press gastronomically for the organ. Please do not be deterred; spleens are a joy to cook with and eat, and the texture is not dissimilar to liver. Beautifully symmetrical, not wobbly and unmanageable, they are the perfect organ to give offal a good name. In fact they are often used in terrines, their presence overlooked in favor of more glamorous ingredients. This recipe goes a small way to redress the balance. Eat with very thinly sliced raw red onion and cornichons.

I know that I had promised to update on Friday, but a combination of work and a few other things have kept me very busy lately. The lesson learned here is to stop promising to update on certain days. It seems like Murphy’s Law kicks in every time I do.

This is another one of Mr. Henderson’s very simple dishes with a grand total of four ingredients (if you don’t count salt and pepper). Again, I must thank the absolutely wonderful MT Supermarket in Austin for their amazing meat department actually stocking pig spleen. Considering how hard it is finding offal from other animals, it’s a fantastic comfort knowing that I can find almost any piggy part I need at one local place. I’ll detail the frustration of trying to find sheep pluck for Haggis later this month.

The recipe calls for one pig’s spleen per person. I remember my wife walking the door after buying two for dinner and exclaiming, “We have to start eating more offal because it’s so cheap!” Cost for both spleens: $2. After pulling them from the bag, my first impression was that we had purchased two gigantic water leeches.

Laying both spleens out on a plastic sheet, I seasoned them liberally with salt and pepper. Bacon and sage leaves were placed on top.

The pig spleens were tightly rolled up and skewered with toothpicks.

I placed the spleen rolls into an oven safe dish and covered them with chicken stock. I dropped the whole thing into the oven and started cleaning my mandolin so I could get some nice thin onion slices. It was used the night prior for french fries.

The final product sliced into cross sections and plated with the suggested raw red onions and cornichons. On first bite, I was shaken. This was the dish I had be waiting for. While I have tried to enjoy offal in other forms before, it took pig spleen to really open my eyes. The meat was fantastically tender with a delicate, liver-esque flavor enhanced by the smoked bacon and sage; the onions and cornichons pairing perfectly.

Mr. Henderson has himself yet another convert.

One down, one hundred and thirty one to go.