The third in our series – Mike Cooks Weird Sh*t!
It seems we’ve started a trend – Mike (our honorary man on the blog) and his weird sh*t have become trendy. I’m suddenly seeing ‘Cod’s Cheek‘ on menus everywhere! Google them and his last blog is ranking just above The Fish Society!
So we’ve let him back on the blog again for some more austerity cooking!
A PIG’S HEART THESE DAYS IS HARD TO FIND…
I have enjoyed a variety of hearts – sheep’s is the easiest to find and ox is pretty widely available. Duck and chicken hearts are also often part of a Brazillian barbeque, where the meat is brought to the table and keeps coming until you can take no more, arriving as a flock’s worth of hearts on a long skewer. But I’d never eaten a pig’s heart. Not for any want of trying, they just don’t seem to turn up so often.
I can’t give any authoritative explanation of why pig’s ticker seems to be so rare. Maybe it’s because we eat so many pork sausages where such ‘lesser’ cuts are sneaked into the mix? It may also get harder, if this news story is right that the UK is going to be exporting unfashionable bits of hog to China, where hearts, noses, trotters and suchlike are (rightly) much more revered.
Whatever the reason for my long pig heart famine, I am pleased to announce that my enforced fast was broken just the other day, when I spotted one lonely porker’s ticker neglected on the table at a local farmers’ market. My own heart skipped a beat at the chance of trying something new.
The idea of eating heart puts a lot of people off but it’s actually a super entry-level cut of offal for the squeamish. Heart is a lot like more familiar cuts of meat because – unlike liver, kidneys, tripe, or sweetbreads – it’s also a muscle. But heart also has a denser texture because it’s a special kind of ‘smooth muscle’ that never tires (it never gets a breather, well not until the big, long, permanent breather…).
Having trimmed and washed the porker’s body pump thoroughly, I searched Google for a little recipe inspiration. I almost went for this rather exciting-sounding Vietnamese stir-fry but a heart is just perfect for stuffing and I’d had a rather good idea. Think roast pork; think apple sauce. And I had a dish of leftover apple and rhubarb crumble in the fridge…
Whizz up a dessertspoon of the fruit with breadcrumbs, diced onion, bacon, generous seasoning and sage. (If you don’t have spare crumble filling I am sure half a diced up apple would do the trick just as well.) Then stuff away, poking the mixture well into the ventricles. To keep it all together, wrap the heart in foil. Then pop it into the oven at 140 degrees centigrade for at least a couple of hours (you could easily do it for longer). Another hour with the foil open at 180 degrees centigrade browns it up nicely (with regular basting to keep it moist).
One of the delights of eating heart is cutting it into slices that are a mixture of meat and stuffing. I find it rather pretty. The juices at the bottom of the pan make a simple gravy over the top. The taste is porky with a light liver-like note. The stuffing worked a treat and might have been even better with more fruit.
Even the offal virgin that I browbeat into trying it thought that it was “not bad”. Some mashed potato and a few steamed carrots go well on the side. Drink it with a rustic red wine. (The leftovers, diced up and reheated, were delicious on toast the next day, with a little hot chilli sauce.)
One heart, costing just 50p, would be more than enough for one (a hearty meal indeed, groan) and could stretch to two as part of a larger meal, so it’s fantastic value. If, of course, you can find one.
Photographs: Mike Green
This is not a sponsored blog post.
My friend Mike is neither a woman nor a Mancunian. But he makes me laugh!
By day he’s a high flier with a brain the size of a planet, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bill Gates, Bill Clinton …… and other important people who aren’t called Bill.
(PS. Mike’s the one with the beard – and that’s their book that Bill’s holding – Philanthrocapitalism).
By night – he cooks weird sh*t.
Other articles by Mike: