Eating Nose to Tail

Thanks to an old friend from graduate school I recently had the privilege of teaching a nose to tail eating class at Newbury College.  The students were all seniors, excellent cooks and enthusiastic about food.

We cooked a lot of food - grilled pig tails, chili beef heart, snapper collars, sweetbreads, marrow bones and as a special treat Jamie Bissonette left us a pig head from his butchering demo.  It was an awesome day and I really hope they invite me back next year.

Here are a few pictures from that class - and if any of those students read this and want to cook some more offal sometime soon, definitely drop me a line!
My local big box store stocks some good stuff, and I've been eyeing some good looking beef heart for the past few weeks.  Yesterday I took the plunge and bought a pound and change of beef heart.
Beef heart.
After trimming the fat and silver skin I sliced it into about a 1/2-1/4 inch thick pieces and placed it in a marinade.
Marinading beef heart.
My beef heart pieces sat overnight in olive oil, garlic and chili paste.  The next afternoon I took a few pieces out of the marinade, heated a pan with some oil and seared the heart until just cooked through.  Absolutely delicious.

Beef heart is very lean, and does very well with quick hot cooking.  Grilling beef heat over hot coals or even wood is a very classic South American way of preparing it, and would be a great way of cooking this dish.

The pound-and-change of meat I bought turned out to be quite a bit of food, and I've eaten it two different ways so fat today (yes, yes, I know).  Seared and over a lightly dressed salad, and in a perfect little sandwich made with 7 Grain bread and greens.  Up next for my beef heart - tacos.
Just for good measure I'm going to include the recipe.  I've been doing a bit of recipe writing over at SeriousEats, so I thought I'd try out a real simple one over here at ENT.

Garlic Chili Beef Heart

Serves 2 (main) or 4 (appetizer)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste (like sambal, or even sriracha)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound beef heart (trimmed of fat and silver skin)
  • olive oil (for searing)
Combine mashed garlic, garlic & chili paste and olive oil and mix well.  Pour over trimmed beef heart and mix until all the meat is covered with the marinade.  Let sit overnight (or two nights).

Heat a good drizzle of olive oil over high heat, until oil is shimmering.  Place strips of beef heart in heated pan in an even layer.  Do not crowd the pan or you wont get the desired sear.  Cook until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook until just cooked through, another 2 minutes. 

Serve very hot in a sandwich, on a salad, or in a taco.  Beer would be very good with this as well.
Ducks are a truly wonderful creature, right up there with pigs in my book.  I've been meaning to roast a duck forever, and last night I finally got around to it.

This duck came from my local Asian grocery.  It seemed a little small (very different from the plump European style duck that I'm more accustomed to) but in my mind it seemed perfect for two people. 
The cavity of my duck was stuffed with all sorts of lovely giblets; a nice big neck, a couple gizzards, heart and liver.  Some of those bits are destined for duck soup, but the liver is getting marinated then sauteed in duck fat as a special treat.
Simple is the way to go when roasting a duck.  Poke holes in the skin to allow the fat to drip out, and use more salt than it looks like you probably need.
Into a waiting 325 degree oven, which I checked every 15-20 minutes.  Once it started to brown I made a quick glaze (honey, sriracha, soy) and brushed it all over.  The duck went back into a now 425 degree oven to finish crisping.
I served just the breast, which to be honest was not enough.  The breast was thin, and not quite juicy enough, and the skin was not the desired level of crisp.
Alongside some sticky rice, steamed bok ckoy and some daikon sprouts it was a pretty good dinner.  Definitely room for improvement, which is never a bad thing because that means there is more duck in my future.

In January of 2007 I spent a few weeks visiting an old friend in Lima, Peru.  I was lucky enough to spend my time traveling through different parts of Peru, seeing the sites and taking in the cuisine.  Freshly squeezed juices, empanadas, sweet fried dough, with sugary syrups were some of the favorite street foods I discovered.  Not to mention the beautiful scallops with bright orange livers still attached and quivering in their shells and what must be the national dish of Peru, ceviche.  But my two favorite snacks to buy on the street were definitely grilled chicken hearts and hard boiled quail eggs.

Ladies would sit on the sidewalk with small grills selling various  kinds of skewered meats gently seasoned with a little bit of salt, some chili's and a gentle squeeze of lime.  This accompanied with a bag of tiny hard boiled eggs (I'm assuming they were quail eggs) and I could happily wander the streets for hours munching on hearts and peeling eggs.

I'm going to try and recreate some of my favorite flavors of Peru by making a simple snack of hard boiled quail eggs and grilled chicken hearts.

To begin I marinade my chicken hearts in the juice of two limes and some chili flake.  I would have been happier with fresh chili's, but I'm afraid the ones I knew where in my fridge had disappeared.

Marinading hearts.
These hearts sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day when I'm ready for my snack, I take my hearts out of the fridge and trim off the fat, and some of the more intrusive valves that stick out of the top of the heart.
Trimmed, marinaded chicken hearts.
Now that my hearts are ready to be skewered, I move on to my quail eggs.
To my delight, they're Canadian.

I follow the instructions on the package, and boil my quail eggs for six minutes.
Hopefully they turn out just right.

I use an old trick my Uncle taught me, and soak my skewers in water.  Supposedly to ensure that they don't set on fire on the grill.  Less of an issue when you're grilling inside, but I am a creature of habit.
The quail eggs are cooked, now all that's left is cooking my hearts.  I heat up my grill pan, it's not quite a charcoal grill on the streets of Lima but I'm afraid it'll have to do.

The grill is heated and oiled; ready for my skewers.
The grill pan.
 Ideally I want a little char on the hearts, so once I've achieved that after a few minutes and several turns they go to rest on a plate after a quick sprinkle of salt.
Ready to rest on a plate.
It's time for my snack.  A quick squeeze of lime and the hearts are salty and spicy, with a little bit of acid.  And the tiny quail eggs are the perfect base contrast to the hearts.
It's not quite Peru, but it's several steps above a snack of crackers and peanut butter.  In fact there is a lot of food here, my quick snack may just turn into an early supper.