Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Offal that wasn't so awful

WARNING: Don't look at pictures, or read post for that matter, if you have a weak stomach, or faint at the sight of blood. You've been warned!

A few weeks ago Jim and I watched an Iron Chef episode where the secret ingredient was offal. For those of you who don't know what offal is, basically it's all the extra bits of animal that aren't typically eaten (tongue, lungs, heart, you get the idea). Jim and I were fairly amused by this Iron Chef challenge, and kept asking each other "would you try that?"

Fast forward to a few days ago. Jim walks through our door with a red cooler, the kind you might expect an organ to be transported in. He had a big smile on his face and exclaimed "We have meat!" You see, Jim's Mom and her husband Jeff purchase calves in the spring, fatten them up, and butcher them in the fall. I try not to look at the cows too much while they're grazing in Jeff and Tricia's field, as I'm afraid I might get attached and then cry when the butcher comes to town. Anywho, the cooler contained exactly what Jim promised it would: Meat, meat, and more meat to stock our freezer with. This could only mean one thing, Patty O'Beef and Patty O'Hamburger (Jeff's name concoctions) had sacrificed (though I'm not sure they did so willingly) themselves to feed us all, and Jeff and Tricia were kind enough to help stock our freezer with their heifers. Usually I cook with ground turkey and chicken, however, how can I say "no" to FREE meat, that is organically raised by my in-laws? I can't, that is, unless I was stupid.

Anyway, back to the story. Jim decided to re-arrange our freezer so Patty O. and Patty O. would fit. My job was to hand him things from the cooler to place in the freezer. I handed him ribs, steaks, and ground meat, then I came to something I didn't quite recognize.

"What's this?" I asked.
"What does it look like?" Jim replied.
"Heart?" I hoped he'd say no.
"Bingo!" He said instead.
"Jim, you just took this because we watched that show about offal!"
"Uh, yeah. It's gonna be awesome when you cook it for me!"
At this I rolled my eyes and vowed that the cows' hearts would sit in our freezer until they (not so unfortunately) passed their expiration date. I was sure Jim would forget about them anyways.

I was wrong.

He brought up the awful offal every few days. "When are you going to cook the heart?" He'd ask. Today, I finally gave in. Why? Because I love my husband, and he usually eats whatever grub I lay before him. He rarely complains about my cooking (or lack thereof) and NEVER asks for specific meals. . . that is until the heart came into the picture.

I dutifully searched the internet for "beef heart recipes" and was pleasantly surprised at the amount that came up. I decided on a nice (EASY) recipe titled German Sweet and Sour Beef Heart. It's basically a gravy that you pour over mashed potatoes. Everyone likes mashed potatoes, so I thought if the heart turned out gross, we'd at least have something to eat.
Here they are in all their gory (get it?)

Preparing the heart was the most difficult part. I couldn't decide if I was in a horror movie, doing a science experiment, or actually cooking dinner. When the recipe said, "trim off fat and . . . ahem. . . entrails from heart" I nearly lost my breakfast. I realized my face was all disgusted looking as I was dealing with entrails, so I thought I better capture it in a photo.

The rest of the recipe was just about throwing a whole bunch of crap in the slow cooker, and waiting a few hours. Then I made a gravy from the broth, cut the cooked heart into cubes, added that to the gravy, and when all was said and done, I poured the gravy and heart over my home-made (extra yummy) mashed potatoes. I thought this meal would be nicely enhanced with some brussel sprouts, but I didn't have any, and was too lazy to drive to the store to buy some, so we had canned green beans instead (canned by Jim's mom and Jeff from their garden -- WOOHOO!).

Okay, so I don't know how to "plate." I'm sure it could have looked A LOT prettier, but I'm just not creative, what you see is what you get. Deal with it.

The next most difficult thing was to actually try the heart. I must admit, I was mildly curious about what the heart would taste like, and I'm usually keen to try anything (within reason) at least once. I'm no Andrew Zimmern , but I thought I might as well give this whole heart thing a shot. Plus, the smell of my cooking was really quite pleasant. As far as the heart goes, I liked it. I didn't love it, but it was decent. You could definitely tell it was offal, but not in a gross way. It wasn't "awful." The gravy was divine! Jim loved the whole thing, but Jim's weird, so I knew he would. He even said, "Oh, this meal warms my heart. Get it Hon? Get it?"

I got it.

So, that's that. My adventures in cooking offal!

So, would you try it?


Heather said...

Would I try it??? Um...NO!!! You are a brave woman!! Especially to do all of that pregnant!!!

Joey Clements said...

Wow- you are brave!!!! And a good wife for cooking that! I just about lost my cookies just watching that Iron Chef episode- there's no way I could ever cook that kind of stuff!

Joni said...

haha...we watched that Iron Chef episode too! I can't believe you guys actually made it!!

Hannah S said... doesn't look like heart cut up like that. Man they have such huge organs. I am sure I would have tried it. But I wouldn't have made it. I would have made Tyler cook it and then perhaps eaten it. You're brave and a loving wife.

Boom said...


You need to do a TV cooking show! You are awesome! I like heart and have had it a few times. We used to butcher cows on the farm. Once Grandpa even made me help. Of course we also do the deer heart that Grandpa and Uncle Steve shoot!

Croslands said...

oh you are such a sweet wife. that would never happen at my house.

Nana said...

Leslie I had to laugh about your dinner made with Beef Heart. You're such a good sport, that is why your husband loves you so much. I can just see your face as you're working on that dinner. All I can say is JJ should be very grateful for a special favor. I am proud of you. love, Nana