Here is a Paleo-friendly (use Coconut aminos instead of soy/tamari sauce, and go with my Mirin substitution idea) recipe for stuffed, braised lamb hearts. They are wrapped with bacon to keep moisture in while baking. This recipe uses cauliflower rather than bread crumbs, to very good effect. I tried braising for the first time a couple days ago – And I’m happy with this! Very, very happy!
My usual method of preparing lamb hearts is to slice them longitudinally into approximately 1/4 inch sections, and then pan fry them with whatever seasonings and other ingredients happen to bestir my interest at the time. I leave lamb (and goat) hearts over the heat long enough to cook them medium rare. Still pink, which means they’ll still be tender.
However, this time I decided to stuff the hearts and braise them. This would be a longer cooking time, and if done right, they’d also be tender, especially wrapped with bacon.
I made enough stuffing that as it turned out, I could have stuffed three hearts of 0.2 pound apiece weights. It is perhaps better to have extra than too little… And the size of the hearts available to you may vary.
Heart is a muscle, and thus tastes a lot like the muscle meat from the animal in question. Since it does a LOT of work every moment of its life, it is a dense muscle, and it is very lean (though there may be a hard layer of fat over the top of this organ).
This recipe would work for lamb, goat or pig hearts. Indeed, I’d be leery of doing pig hearts by my aforementioned pan-fried method — trichinosis? Beef and buffalo are much larger animals, and will need some modifications to make braising work, and I’ll address that some time in the future (yes, there’s a beef heart in my freezer).
One other good thing about heart, as well as about much of the other offal: it is usually inexpensive. This means if you go out and purchase your dinner from a locally-sourced pastured animal source, where it is raised in a healthy manner, the meal isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg, unlike, say, rack of lamb. Which can be pretty pricey even from your local supermarket.
PS: Ponzu marinate is NOT the same as Ponzu sauce – the latter contains the former plus some soy sauce. It is basically clear citrus juice, a little salt and some water. If you can’t find it, approximate by using 1 part lemon juice to 1 part rice vinegar, and then take that about 1:1 with water. Extra salt optional. The brand of Ponzu marinate I use is Marukan.
At any rate:
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time:15-20 minutes to saute + 1.5 hours braising
Rest Time: 5 – 8 minutes
Serves: 1 heart per person, assuming sides.
Braised Stuffed Lamb Hearts
- 2 (or 3) lamb, goat or pig hearts, approximately 0.2 pounds or somewhat larger.
- cooking oil for sauteing.
- about 1/3 cup finely diced onion (white or yellow)
- 1/3 cup cauliflower, grated/riced
- 1/3 cup diced white mushrooms
- 2 large cloves garlic, run through the garlic press
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, white or black
- 1 egg
- 2 strips of bacon per heart. Use a fairly thick bacon.
- 1/4 cup tamari or coconut aminos – I used low sodium gluten free San-J tamari
- 1/4 cup mirin or cheap white wine (or add a little extra water, tamari/coconut aminos, Ponzu marinate to make up the volume difference)
- 1/4 cup Ponzu marinate
- 1/4 cup water.
NOTE: If you add more hearts, make additional stuffing to correspond, but you don’t need to make extra braising liquid unless you go above, say, 6 hearts/need a larger braising pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Prep the hearts by cutting off excess fat from the top of the hearts, and discard.
Saute the onions in a little cooking oil until translucent. Add the cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, turmeric, cumin and pepper and continue to saute until the cauliflower and mushrooms are soft.
Add the egg, beaten, to the mix above. Stir some more, another minute, and remove from heat.
Allow to cool enough that you can work with the stuffing with your hands.
Stuff the hearts down all the chambers with the stuffing. Pack in as much as possible, and don’t worry about stuffing on the top of the hearts… let it overflow if desired.
Wrap each heart with two strips of bacon, one at top, one at bottom, and let them overlap if that is how it works out.
Place in baking pan, and add all the above liquids to the pan – I allowed everything but the water to be poured over the bacon-covered stuffed hearts – the water I simply added to the side in the pan.
Place in the oven and bake at 350 F (180 C) for 1.5 hours.
Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-8 minutes, and enjoy. The bacon will look but did not taste burnt.
PS: As noted, I had extra stuffing. Since the egg needed to be cooked further in the unused portion of stuffing, I simply sauteed the leftover mix for a few more minutes, and ate that.
Recommended sides: This would go nicely with zoodles (zucchini/yellow summer squash noodles) stir fried with bok choy, ginger, pepper and salt, but let your imagination decide. Maybe just a good leafy green salad?
Don’t be intimidated by the heart. Although, on second thought… if everyone starts liking this, the prices will go up. Fine.. Soooo…. Be Intimidated! Thanks!