I've had octopus in Spain and dried, soaked, and re-cooked lutfisk in Sweden, but heart was something I've never encountered in any of my travels. The other day, after Farmer's Market with Ian and Celeste,
the three of us stopped in at el Salchichero, a new butcher's, where it warmed my pithy little heart - hah! - to find that I don't have to cross any physical boundaries to get out of my comfort zone and embark on a gastronomic adventure.
We bought a pig heart.
For three dollars, it was an excellent deal, and made a delectable dinner for the three of us. The heart was much larger than a fist. It was, in fact, larger than my two fists put together, and weighed a pound. As soon as we removed the heart from its vacuum packing, its strong smell, metallic like seaweed, filled the trailer obscenely; anyone who popped their head in would have been right to wonder what, exactly, we were cooking.
We didn't have a recipe, only the butcher's recommendations. He recommended that we cut off the tough top portion of the heart, segment it, and remove all the remaining gristly material, but we ended up just hacking off what seemed like the good stuff from the valves and exterior and calling it good. The exterior, composed mostly of white tissue, looked fatty but felt like plastic. Initially, the heart felt foreign and unapproachable (I might add that I find raw meat nauseating in general), but after it was cut up, it looked like any other meat.
To make a meal out of it, we fried up onions, garlic, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts, then tossed the heart meat in with a good dousing of teriyaki sauce.
It made a kind of epic fusion dish. The sweet potatoes provided a lovely backdrop for the tough yet chewy meat, and the brussels sprouts added satisfying crunch. I found the combination of textures and flavors to be perfectly to my liking, while Celeste and Ian - evidently more sensitive souls than myself - both claimed to be able to feel slippery traces of the muscle lingering in their respective esophagi upon finishing eating. I just thought it tasted like pork.
If I were to do it again, I'd probably want to make a stew, because the meat is so rich. There would definitely still be onions and garlic involved, but also potatoes, greens, beets, and rice. It would be a savory stew just right for the tail end of winter and this unsavory weather.