By Iron Chef Leftovers
I have been accused of being a food snob over the years because I tend to shun crappy, mass produced foods in favor of items that are freshly prepared on a small scale and because I will eat things that most Americans won’t, despite, in most of those cases, most of the rest of the world does eat it.
One case in point – beef heart. Before you go “yuck”, understand this – heart is a muscle that is no different from the steaks that you eat and it actually contains significantly less fat than most other cuts of beef. It also has an incredibly beefy flavor (not the metallic flavor that most people would assume it has since it is considered “organ meat”), much more so than just about any other cut off the cow. If you haven’t tried it, you should – it is cheaper than a steak and cooks incredibly quickly so it can be prepared for a weeknight meal.
All of this lead author Jennifer McLaglan to include a recipe for a heart burger in her Odd Bits cookbook. Before you say “yuck” again, be aware that if you are eating any commercially produced burger or using commercially produced ground beef, you probably have had heart already without knowing it. As she writes:
This is a great way to try heart for the first time…
I took this recipe and made it at home without telling Mrs. Iron Chef Leftovers what was in the burgers and she loved them. I suggest you try it for yourself before saying “yuck.”
¾ lbs. brisket, fat cap on, ground
¾ lbs. heart, fat on, cleaned and ground
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, beef drippings or bacon fat
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except the oil, mixing gently until combined. Divide into 4 portions and form into patties about 1 inch thick. Place the patties on a large plate or sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Pre-heat a pan or grill over medium high heat and add oil. When the oil begins to smoke, add the burgers. Cook for 4-5 minutes until a nice brown crust forms and flip, reducing the heat to medium. Cook for another 4-5 minutes until the burgers reach your desired doneness, Server with your favorite burger toppings.
I would highly recommend sourcing your heart from a small grower and preferably from a grass fed animal. You will get a better quality product with better flavor. I usually get mine from Skagit River Ranch. You probably won’t be able to find either ground heart or ground brisket easily, so you can see if you purveyor will grind it for you, or better yet, grind it at home yourself. I also added about 2 strips of uncooked bacon to my meat mix before I formed the patties and it took these burgers over the top. This comes in especially handy if the brisket you use does not have much fat. I would not recommend cooking these burgers all the way to well-done; they will dry out as a result and won’t be particularly tasty. If you are grinding the meat yourself and you have a good source, you shouldn’t need to cook these beyond medium-rare to medium. If you don’t like beef, pork belly or lamb shoulder can be subsituted for the brisket and the heart of those respective animals can be used.