20/11/2011

Stuffed Lamb Hearts

Paleo eaters are generally very keen on the whole "nose to tail" eating, but there is too often a tendency to go wild on the carnivorous aspect of that, and I must confess ... I had a certain sense of bravado picking up a pack of New Zealand lamb hearts at my local supermarket.

"New Zealand? But, don't you live in the UK?"

I certainly do! We get a lot of New Zealand lamb here in the UK. I guess New Zealand lamb is exported all over the world and whenever you think of lamb, you think New Zealand. I know, it does sound ludicrous when we have Wales right here on our island. Wales is a great lamb producer and having lived in Wales for a period, I have more than a little pride for the national product and try to get Welsh lamb whenever I can.

In this case, these hearts were there ... I wanted to try them, and the fact that they had flown half way around the world to get onto the shelf in front of me did not matter. Hearts!

"Are they grassfed?"

Grassfed is ideal whenever we can get it. Out of laziness, paleo people almost always end up buying something which is not grassfed, possibly grassfed and then grain finished, but not wholly pastured. In Wales, the hillsides are littered with sheep ... eating nothing more than grass. They are not finished on bulking grain, but taken from the hillsides and slaughtered. I presume New Zealand is the same, and after a reasonably deep google, I think that is the case. As for organic rearing, free from hormones ... I don't know.

So, to the heart of the matter ...

With the bravado over, what on earth do I do with these things? I asked for advice on paleo forums, food forums, carnivore forums, offal forums and sought the oracle known as google.

Slice up and flash fry, or stuff and slow cook.

I love slow-cooked meat and so, with the course set ... here's what I did.

For stuffings, I used mushroom and nut, and black pudding stuffings.

Chestnut mushroom and walnuts ... no, wait ... damn! No walnuts ... okay, pecans, and a little chervil, pepper and a splash of smoke chiptole Tabasco. Blend up with a hand blender.

Black pudding often has oats or oatmeal in the mix. You got me ... it's not proper paleo, but you have to have one vice, right? Black pudding is very cultural for northerners; northern English, that is. Mine was made at my local farm shop - I really should have asked what they put in, but the veil of the secret recipe would probably have been brought down in front of my eyes.

Take the heart in one hand and wash it under the tap. Take a moment to understand its construction as water flows into one hole and out through another tube. Understand not to push the stuffing in too firmly or it will simply come out somewhere else!

Push the mushroom and nut stuffing into one side and the black pudding into the other.

The tops are exposed and so as not to lose all the stuffing out of the heart while cooking, lay a strip of bacon over the top and secure with string. You may like to wrap the whole thing in bacon, but just over the top is sufficient.

Place in a lidded casserole dish, chop a shallot, some garlic and more chervil, parsley, or whatever your favoured herb for this is, top up with lamb stock, lid on and into an oven pre-heated to 180C.

Two hours later ...

Well, just before, prepare and cook your vegetables. I went for young kale, gently steamed over the gravy.

Recover the hearts and keep them warm in tin foil.

Pour out the juices into a receptacle and blend well with a hand blender. Pass the blended liquid through a sieve for an ultra-fine gravy, heat back up and thicken with a little arrowroot.

Remove the string from the hearts, set the bacon aside, slice the hearts and arrange on a plate.

Finely chop up the bacon and toss into the vegetables, plating alongside the heart.

Cover in gravy, grab your cutlery and dig in!

Wow! What a flavour! What a texture! Deep and velvet with a firm, but not rubbery bite.

It is said that when you eat the heart of a beast you assume part of that beast ...

Enjoy! I mean BAAAA!




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