Sunday, September 17, 2017

Broiled Lamb Hearts with Salsa Verde and Fresh Chickpea Salad

If you are looking for an economical cut of meat that is still very tasty, then you have to look no further than lamb heart.  At about $4.99 a pound (give or take a few cents or a dollar),  as compared to $9.99 or even $19.99 for other more popular cuts of lamb or beef, it is definitely worth a try.  The only thing is that you have to look very hard to find lamb hearts.  The average grocery store does not stock them.

Fortunately, I have found lamb hearts on occasion at a certain large grocery store that just happened to merge with an online behemoth.  I have cooked with this ingredient twice before.  My first dish was Khalyat Alkadba Wal Galoob (Fried Heart and Liver), which is a Libyan dish I prepared in connection with my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge.  The second dish was Cuore di Agnello Brasata al Chianti (Lamb Hearts Braised in Chianti).  Both dishes were very good and have always left me wanting more.  

During a recent trip to said large grocery store soon to be owned by even larger online behemoth, I saw that it had lamb hearts.  I decided to buy them and try a more simpler preparation.  I was not going to prepare them in an ethnic style (although I did give that a thought for a moment).  I was not going to do anything fancy with a bottle of wine.  Instead, I decided that I would broil the hearts and try to find different ways to add contrasting and complementing flavors.  

I found a recipe for broiling lamb hearts on LiveStrong, which had a preparatory step that I did not know.  The recipe called for placing the lamb hearts in a bowl of salted water.  In other words, to do a brine.  The recipe did not provide any time limits for the brining of the lamb hearts.  I was also working only with slightly over a half of a pound of meat, as opposed to a twelve pound turkey.  So, I decided that, at most, a half an hour in the brine.  That half of an hour made an incredible difference.  Once cooked the meat was far more tender than my previous attempts and a little more flavorful.  After trying this preparation, I would strongly recommend a brief brine for lamb hearts because it will pay off in the end. 

Still, I only had lamb heart.  I needed something to go with that meat.  I pulled out my cookbooks and surfed the Internet until I came across two recipes from Michael Symon, the well-known chef who hails from Cleveland (which is also my hometown).  One recipe was for a salsa verde, which I thought would go well over the broiled lamb heart.  The recipe was for a Fresh Chick Pea Salad, which made a great side dish.  Both sides are very easy to make and helped to round out a complete meal. 

Now, I know most people are already turned off by the lamb hearts.  Unfortunately, we have been raised to only think about steak, like ribeyes, strip steaks, or burgers.  The supposedly more adventurous think about lamb shanks and rack of lamb.  But, it is in these often overlooked cuts of meat where one can find some true culinary joy. 


BROILED LAMB HEART WITH SALSA VERDE
AND FRESH CHICK  PEA SALAD
Lamb heart recipe adapted from Live Strong
Salsa Verde and Fresh Chick Pea Salad from Cooking Channel

Ingredients (for the lamb):
1/2 pound of lamb heart
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of sherry vinegar
Salt
Ground pepper

Ingredients (for the salsa verde):
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1 salt packed anchovy (or a teaspoon anchovy paste)
2 tablespoon salt-packed capers
Pinch red chile flakes
1/2 Fresno chile (or a Cubanelle or Anaheim chile)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup chiffonade fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chiffonade
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Freshly cracked black pepper
Kosher salt

Ingredients (for the chick pea salad):
Salt
3 cups fresh chickpeas, shelled
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 Fresno chile (or a Cubanelle or Anaheim chile)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly picked flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly picked mint leaves

Directions:
1.  Prepare the lamb hearts.  Use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to remove as much fat and connective tissue from the surface of the lamb heart as possible.  Rinse the heart and place it in a bowl of cold water mixed with a pinch of salt.  Preheat the broiler.  Combine the oil and vinegar and whisk together.

2.  Prepare the salsa verde.  In a medium bowl, add the garlic, shallot, anchovy, capers, red chile flakes, chile, lemon zest (save juice for later), mint and parsley.  Save the lemon juice just until serving  - this will help prevent the herbs from turning a dark unappealing color.  Add the extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.  Set aside.  Do not salt now.  Allow the flavors to come together.  

3.  Prepare the chickpea salad.  Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, season with salt and add the chickpeas.  Allow to blanch for about 10 to 15 seconds.  Add the shallots and chile to a medium bowl.  Drain the chickpeas and add to the shallots and chile.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Toss in the parsley and mint leave.  Taste and season if needed.

4.  Broil the lamb hearts.  Remove the heart and pat dry with towels.  Put on a broiler pan.  Brush with the olive oil/vinegar mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place under the broiler for about 3 minutes.  Flip the hearts and brush the other side with the olive oil/vinegar mixture.  Continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from the broiler and let rest for 3 minutes.  

ENJOY!

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