The very idea of eating the heart of any animal will undoubtedly prove off-putting to a great many people, largely due to a stigma often being attached to consuming offal in general. This is a great shame as these cuts of meat are often not only extremely delicious but particularly nutritious. Packed full of flavor, ox heart is a very rich piece of meat, almost gamey in taste and in texture, not wholly unlike venison. It should however be remembered when planning your cooking schedule that, as the heart is a muscle which has been constantly working during the life of the animal, it requires to be cooked very long and slow to tenderize it or it is likely to be too tough to eat.
Ox heart and mixed vegetable stew
Ox heart is very often one of the most inexpensive pieces of meat money can buy and although prices will of course be likely to vary depending upon location, it should readily fit in to even the tightest of grocery budgets. The pound of diced heart meat used in this recipe cost a mere £1.39 (British pounds), or just a little over US$2.00 in the supermarket.
Diced ox heart
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 1 pound diced ox heart
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
- 1 small white onion
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 2 medium to large carrots
- 2 pints fresh beef stock
- ½ very small rutabaga (Swede turnip)
- 3 or 4 baby new potatoes
- ½ small leek stem
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, plus a little extra to garnish
Starting to brown and seal ox heart in oil
Do not cut off any fatty bits attached to the heart meat before cooking, however much you may be tempted. This fat not only represents flavor, it helps keep the meat moist during its exceptionally long cooking time. It will render down and liquefy and will not be visible in the served stew.
Pour the oil in to a large stew pot and gently heat. Do remember that you have a number of vegetables to be added later so be sure to use a pot which affords plenty of room. Add the diced ox heart and stir around over a medium heat for two or three minutes with a wooden spoon until the meat is evenly sealed and browned.
Onion and seasonings are added to browned meat
Peel the onion, cut it in half down through the core, lay each half flat on a chopping board and moderately finely slice. Add it to the pot along with the dried thyme. Season with salt and pepper and saute for a minute or so until the onion is just starting to soften.
Carrot is grated in to heart and onion
Top and tail one of the carrots only and wash it thoroughly. There's no need to peel or scrape it, unless the skin is particularly badly damaged. Grate it very coarsely straight in to the pot. The carrot will not only add extra flavor to the heart as it cooks, it will serve to help thicken the stock.
Grated carrot is stirred through meat and onion
Stir the carrot through the heart and onion before pouring in the beef stock. Turn up the heat under the pot until the stock reaches a simmer. Cover the pot and continue to simmer as gently as possible for an initial three hours, stirring every so often. After this time, you should find the heart is just starting to become tender.
Prepared and chopped vegetables for stew
When the three hours' simmering time is almost up, the remaining vegetables should be prepared for inclusion in the stew. The second carrot should be washed, topped, tailed and sliced in to discs. The leek stem should be washed and similarly sliced. The potatoes should be washed but not peeled and chopped in half. The rutabaga half should be peeled and chopped in to pieces of a similar size to the potato halves.
Chopped vegetables are stirred thorugh stew
The vegetables should be added very carefully to the stew so as not to splash up any of the stock and burn yourself. Stir them through well with a wooden spoon and bring the remaining stock back up to a simmer. There should still be plenty of stock in the pot but if absolutely necessary, a little bit of boiling water should be added and stirred through. Cover the pot again and simmer for a final forty to forty-five minutes until the potatoes and rutabaga are just softened.
If you find with around fifteen to twenty minutes' simmering time remaining that you have too much stock remaining in the pot and it consequently hasn't started to thicken, remove the lid and turn up the heat slightly to increase the intensity of the simmer. While some stock in the served soup as essentially gravy is good, you don't really want too much liquid.
Chopped parsley is added to stew
The parsley should be chopped only at the very last minute and stirred through the stew for the last couple of minutes of simmering. The stew should then be carefully tasted and the seasoning adjusted with some salt and pepper if required.
Ox heart and vegetable stew is ready to serve
Turn the heat off under the pot and lift it to a cool part of your stove. Let it rest for ten to fifteen minutes and the meat will be that little bit even more tender when it is served.
Ox heart and vegetable stew ladled in to serving bowl
A large serving spoon or ladle should be used to divide the stew between two serving bowls or deep plates before it is garnished with the last of the parsley. While the stew is designed to be a meal in itself, you may wish to serve it with some chunks of very fresh, crusty bread for dipping.