If you haven’t read the previous post, you really should – it’s got all the fun bits in.
So now that you have a big pile of ox heart meat, what the hell are you going to do with it? Well I’m here to tell you. And not only that, but ima gonna throw in some free cooking tips so that you too can cook like a badass ;)
Ox heart is very lean, and the rule for all lean meats is that because of the lack of fat to make them juicy, you either cook them very quickly or very slowly. I opted for the very slow route here, and will be sharing the recipe I used for stew. I kept some meat aside to pan-fry – I’ll write about that in another post.
- 1.6kg of prepared ox heart
- 4 onions
- Bay leaves
- Bottle of ale*
- Carotts (as many as you fancy)
- Beef fat (from Step 3 in previous post)
* I used a 500ml bottle of Hobgoblin because they a) had it in Lidl and b) it seemed seasonal. You could use any dark ale or beer – something tasty and heavy, not cheap lager.
Step 1 – Brown the meat
Put some of the beef fat (from Step 3) in a large frying pan and heat it until it starts to smoke (i.e. so that it is very hot). Put the meat in, stir quickly once to coat the pieces in fat, then leave for a few minutes until browned (not burnt) then turn and repeat. I did about four batches of this. When they’re done, put the pieces in a big saucepan.
Tip 1 – Don’t overcrowd your frying pan
When frying anything, it is important not to over-fill the pan. There are two reasons for this – first is that you want the pan to be very hot, and putting lots of things in lowers the temperature and makes it harder to get that nice browning. Secondly, most things you fry (unless they are already dry) release water. When you have too many things giving off water you end up steaming them rather than frying them. I often see people do this with onions. Notice the space between the pieces above and go for that.
Tip 2 – Sealing my arse
When the chefs on the telly talk about “sealing the flavour in” by browning the meat first, they are talking bollocks. It’s a lump of flesh not a fucking cupboard – you don’t seal anything in. What the frying does, however, is cause a reaction on the surface of the meat which makes it taste really.damn.good. And since you are going to be cooking it for ages, this flavour will impart itself into the liquid too. You can use this principle when making things like soups, sauces and stocks – frying stuff then simmering it for ages makes for much tastier results (eg. Bolognese sauce, chicken stock – actually roast your carcass first, leek and potato soup etc.).
Step 2 – Fry the onions
- Cut off the end without the roots (the hairy bits)
- Cut the onion in half through the root
- Make cuts along the onion to the root, without cutting through it. The width of these will determine the width of your wedges. If you want a finely diced onion, make a second set of cuts perpendicular to these. The fact that the onion is in layer means that they will automatically fall into small dice.
- The root, which has been keeping the onion together and making this whole process nice and easy is now no longer required, so cut it off :)
So on with more frying… Heeding the advice in the tips one and two, pour some more fat into your frying pan (you will probably want to wipe it out first), let it heat up, then put the onions in. Leave them for a minute, then stir and repeat. Don’t be one of those OCD stirrers – the onions will only brown when left in the same spot. Make sure you put enough fat in the pan – the meat is super-lean so don’t be afraid to add some fat back. When they’re done then put them in the pan with the meat.
Step 3 – Add the liquid
Pour the ale into the pan with the meat and onions, and add a couple of bay leaves and a bit of salt. Add more water so that the whole lot is covered with an inch or so layer of liquid.
Put it on the hob, bring to the boil, then turn down, put a lid on and simmer very gently for three hours. Check occasionally to make sure it’s not boiled down too much – add more water if you need to.
Step 4 – Add carrotts (or anything else)
Since I am pretty low-carb I only put carrots in, but you could put any root veg in you wanted – potatoes, parsnips, squash, turnip etc. Just cut them into chunks and chuck them in the pan. Let it simmer for another three hours. You could leave it longer if you wanted – I actually cooked it for three hours one day, then left it overnight in the fridge and cooked it with the carrots for another three hours.
Step 5 – EAT!
Your super-powered cow heart stew is now ready! Here is what mine looked like on the plate:
I had it with mashed butternut squash and steamed kale. You can’t see but at the bottom is lots of yummy juice which got soaked up by the mash. OM NOM NOM.
So, overall thoughts… The meat is much softer and better-textured than I thought it would be. It’s not stringy like beef (a quality I actually dislike in stews) and is dense but soft. It doesn’t have the weird mush-feel of liver, but just has a nice firmness in the mouth. The flavour is excellent – just like beef. No weird iron-y tinge or liver flavour. The ale in the stew worked really well, and it was really tasty. I’m glad I resisted the temptation to throw all kinds of stuff in there and kept it simple – allowed all the flavours to come through.
If you eat wheat (boo, hiss etc.) then you could’ve coated the bits of meat in flour then fried them. This would’ve also made the stew thicker then the flour cooked out, but frankly we don’t condone that kind of behaviour here so I took it out of the recipe.
If I’ve not made anything clear then do leave a comment, and watch out for the next cooking adventure, which I have already lined up in my head…