Here’s a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s fantastic book ‘NoseTo Tail Eating’. I think I have only eaten heart once before and I wasn’t overly impressed, it was tough and not particularly tasty. But I trusted Fergus not to write about it unless it was good, so I gave it another shot.
The hearts as I bought them had been trimmed of veins and sinews at the top, but I trimmed off some of the fat you can see in the photo.
The stuffing consisted of 2 onions and 2 cloves of garlic sliced and cooked gently in butter until soft, but not browned. Then I added a large glass of red wine and let this reduce by half. White bread (I used 3 slices) cut into cubes was then added along with salt and pepper.
This was cooked gently for 15 minutes, and then left to cool before several sage leaves were chopped and added.
The hearts were then stuffed to the top and a couple of slices of bacon were tied in place to act as a lid.
My 3 hearts were placed in a casserole dish (with a large potato to keep the hearts upright), and chicken stock was added, not quite covering the hearts. They were cooked in a medium oven for almost 3 hours, then the hearts were removed and kept warm while I reduced the juice from the casserole dish to make a sauce.
The recipe called for this to be served with mashed swede but I forgot and bought parsnip, so I used that instead. The flavour in this dish is great, the heart was tender, with a very fine texture and I thought a slight taste of liver. The stuffing had a fairly strong flavour, but each heart only held a small amount, so it didn’t overpower the other flavours. The taste of bacon complemented everything nicely. And the sauce was strong and delicious, it looks oily on the plate, but didn’t taste it, the only complaint about the sauce was there wasn’t enough of it. Even the potato I used as packing was delicious, picking up the bacon flavour. This was an awesome dish, thanks Fergus.
For anyone who may not know, black pudding is made from pigs blood. I have only eaten black pudding once since I was a child, and I liked it very much (see ‘Haggis, mutton bird and black pudding’ post). I was recently given a copy of Chris Badenoch from Masterchef’s book The Entire Beast, and it has inspired me in many ways. His recipe for blood sausage with poached egg yolk looked amazing, so I had to try it. I don’t for one minute pretend to be able to cook anywhere near as well as Chris, so I have really just taken the basic idea and simplified it to match my skills and the ingredients I had to hand. I cut the black pudding into thick slices and fried them in oil until crunchy. The eggs yolks were separated from the whites and were poached for about a minute, then the sausage and eggs were placed on a slice of toast and seasoned.
In his book Chris says ‘if you use cage eggs and supermarket black pudding – it will be crap’. Well, that’s pretty much what I used, and it was really delicious. So I would love to try this breakfast prepared by Chris. I really recommend both this meal and ‘The Entire Beast’.
An Asian restaurant in the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank had a selection of BBQ takeaway in the window, including duck tongue. I had seen duck tongues in the butcher shop a few doors down, but they were expensive and I had no idea what to do with them, so buying ready cooked tongues seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately I couldn’t just get one to try, so a very small handful of these cost me $6.50, not a cheap snack. But that’s the price you sometimes pay to eat weird stuff. I resisted the temptation of asking if I could put them on my bill (a duck joke). Ducks tongues are small, about 4-5 cms (but bigger than I thought would fit in a ducks head).
Towards the back of the tongue there is a bone, but there is actually a suprising amount of meat on each tongue (it’s probably not actually meat, has the texture of tender well cooked cartilage). Now, I don’t know what is in a Chinese BBQ marinade, but I do know I don’t like it! All the BBQed meat in the shop had a similar almost greyish, greasy appearance, and the taste of the tongues was unlike anything I have eaten. And that wasn’t a good thing, I thought they were bloody awful. Apparently duck tongues should have a duck flavour but these didn’t. So the experience was very disappointing, but I will try again if I can get them prepared differently.
I have heard it said (by people opposed to killing and eating kangaroos) that Australians are the only people who eat their country’s coat of arms. So when I bought emu meat, which is rarely available, what better way to eat it than in a pie with kangaroo. Kangaroo meat (I used mince) is 98% fat free, high in protein and very rich in flavour. Emu meat is also claimed to be 97% fat free and high in protein. So the pie should at least be healthy! The emu meat came diced and frozen.
I browned the kangaroo mince, an onion and the emu meat in olive oil in a pan. At this stage the emu meat broke up into smaller pieces, not much bigger than the mince. I then put it all in a slow cooker with water, and cooked it for 3 hours on high, at which stage it was all beautifully tender and tasty.
Then it was time to make pastry (my first time). I decided on shortcrust pastry which I prefer to flaky pastry. My pastry recipe was 3 cups flour, salt to taste, 200g butter, 2 egg yolks and 75ml water. After mixing the flour with salt and butter and working until there were no lumps of butter, I added the egg yolks and water to make a dough that wasn’t sticky. I rolled out the base and blind baked it. Then it was time to thicken the emu/roo mix with a little gravox and cornflour and put it into the base and then roll out more pastry for the top. A little decoration in flaky pastry courtesy of my son was added , and into the oven for about 30 minutes to cook and brown the top.
It looked almost too good to cut and eat!
Served with a dollop of Outback Spirit Kakadu Plum Sweet Chilli Sauce, this was possibly the nicest, tastiest pie I have ever eaten. The pastry was delicious and the filling had so much flavour, a real meat lovers pie. I’m not sure how much of the flavour was from emu, I think the strong kangaroo meat overpowered the emu. When I tried a little bit of emu before combining the meats, I thought it was quite mild and maybe even had a slight fishy flavour. I’ll just have to try it again on its own. And I will certainly make kangaroo pie again.
So here’s another cut of meat that is apparently mostly ignored by Australians. When I asked for it at a butcher’s shop, I got the impression that he had never sold cheeks before (at least not as cheeks, maybe in sausages). But he had some in the fridge, minus the skin, so I took a couple. When I got them home and started to cook them, the first thing I noticed was how fatty they are, so I trimmed off the outer layer of fat.
I then treated the pork cheeks as I would beef cheeks, into the slow cooker with some carrot and onion (I have simple tastes) and cooked on high until tender. With the pork cheeks this took about 4 hours. The end result was great for one of the cheeks, so tender I cut it in half with a plastic serving spoon. The second cheek was a bit stringy, but both had the great taste of pork that I love so much. The gelatinous parts of the cheek, which I love so much with beef cheeks, are fattier tasting and not so nice with pork. But pork cheeks are still a great cut, and confirm my belief that maybe pigs are the perfect animal ( for eating). I would love to get pork cheeks with the skin still on and roast them, I think they would be spectacular.
On a visit to an Asian butcher in Brisbane I scored a couple of pigs tongues. I like beef tongue so I was keen to try pork tongue. A bit of research told me that pigs tongues are usually eaten in braun with other parts of the head, but I decided to cook and press the tongues just as I did with the beef tongue I have previously written about. I treated the pigs tongue just the same, but without soaking it overnight. The pigs tongues are considerably smaller than beef tongues, actually about the size of human tongues which is a little disconcerting when handling them.
Because of the smaller size they obviously cooked quicker, and were easily pierced by a knife after 3 hours on high in a slow cooker. I then peeled the tongues, which was much harder than with beef as the skin is much thinner, and placed then into my homemade tongue press and put in the fridge overnight. When turned out the next day they looked good enough to eat!
Sliced and eaten cold with a salad, the tongues were absolutely delicious, with the beautiful taste of pork, but the very tenderest pork I’ve eaten. Definately something to cook over and over again.
On my recent trip to an Asian butcher in Brisbane I bought several items I had not eaten before. Beef tendons were one of these, and as I have never seen them for sale before, I had no idea what to do with them. A bit of research told me they are good in Asian style soups and stews, where they absorb the flavours of what they are cooked with. In my usual style I decided to cook them in a way where I would be able to taste the tendons themselves, without adding too many other flavours.
As you can see, beef tendons aren’t much to look at uncooked. I decided to give them a couple of hours on high in the slow cooker with just a carrot, some celery, onion and seasoning. So after two hours a knife wouldn’t go into the tendons very easily. After four hours they weren’t much better, so I had something else for my dinner. After six hours I gave up and put the tendons in the fridge for the night. The next night I put the lot into a pot and boiled it for about an hour, after which the tendons appeared to be quite soft (but still not much to look at).
The tendons at this stage had a unique flavour, I’m not sure what the mild flavour reminded me of, but it wasn’t particularly nice, but not unpleasant either. They were extremely tender, in fact soft gelatinous lumps. Some people would probably not like that, but I do. It’s what attracts me to meat like beef cheeks. Overall, the texture and flavour were a bit overpowering as the main ingredient in the dish, but in a soup or stew, combined with other meat, they would be a great addition.