I said yesterday I was planning to have some braised lambs' hearts and today I did. Aren't I a brave little soldier?
I've been dreading this ever since I bought the little blighters - but I must try new things and apart from tripe I am willing to give everything a go (I have eaten tripe three times in my life and every time I have been really sick - the last time I had a horrid taste in my mouth for over three days).
Going on the theory that the more a muscle is used, the tougher it generally is, I guessed that the hearts were going to take hours and hours to cook. As such, I made the dish yesterday and allowed them to simmer all evening, but this just meant that all day today I have been sitting in my office with a dread of going home to face the tubes, knowing that I could avoid them no longer.
One chum of mine suggested doing what the French do when confronted with a large plate of offal for dinner and open a good bottle of Claret to wash it down. I almost followed his advice and went for a bottle of Cotes Du Rhone instead, and I'm glad I did.
There's a bit of a history to meat with tubes in it, but never having eaten school dinners as a child I didn't really encounter the stuff in my formative years. I have heard about this culinary nightmare before: I used to share a house with a friend of mine, Curtis, who had a horror of any cheap cuts of meat brought about by his years at grammar school where meat with tubes in it was served on a regular basis. Curtis had developed a great skill of cutting meat in an almost surgical fashion such that he only ever ate the finest piece of whatever was in front of him and left every last pico gramme of fat or gristle uneaten on the plate. This skill being acquired during his training in the dining hall boot camp of cheap school meat.
I am sure I've eaten tubey meat before but it was normally in the form of cheap mince or hidden in a pie so I didn't really know why he was so fearful - until I started cooking the hearts yesterday - giant white aorta stared at me like the eye of some ghostly dead sheep - baaaa - we are watching you - baaaaa! But they were incredibly cheap and I am pretty sure that nutritionally speaking you'd be hard pressed to find something better for you. So I dived in, cooked them up in the fashion I expected was most likely to produce something tasty and that was that. Baaaaaa!
So what were they like?
I will say I am glad I cooked them for ages. I don't think any other meat would have withstood such a simmering and still retained a firm texture. They weren't chewy - not in the slightest, but even after a good six hours in the pot they hadn't fallen to pieces at all. They tasted fine, a little bit like kidneys but less smelly and slightly meatier. The sauce was excellent - they flavoured the gravy up a treat.
And would I cook them again?
Possibly, they weren't bad but I think you would be better off stewing up some cheap beef shin or brisket if you have anyone squeemish coming for dinner and you are short of cash. I think they might make a good curry as they really did produce an excellent sauce - maybe one Friday I'll make some curried lambs' hearts. That'll be a first.
Oh and if anyone thinks I was being wasteful yesterday carving stumps out of potato and discarding the
rest, I put the cuttings in some water and used them today to make the mash. Wasteful indeed - who do
you think I am, Imelda Marcos?
White Chocolate and Raspberry Dessert: That's what Tesco's called it and that was what it was. I'm not a fan of white chocolate and this wasn't good enough to win me around.
Braised Lambs' Hearts
2 Lambs' Hearts
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Red Onion
1 Stick Celery
1 Clove Garlic
1 Rasher Streaky Bacon
Large Glass Red Wine
250ml Strong Chicken Stock
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Good Squirt Worcestershire Sauce
*All quantities are very approximate and for a single person