As the weather starts to turn chilly once again, my thoughts have been going back towards making stews and casseroles in my collection of trusty slow cookers.
I love my slow cookers and have far too many for the average single woman. My excuse is that I also have a hungry teenage boy to feed, but in truth he hardly eats anything that comes out of my slow cookers, instead preferring to eat meat plain without any sauces, gravy or juices. This is why he was so willing to learn how to use the halogen oven earlier this year so he could fend for himself a bit more and cook up sausages for a secret midnight feast!
It was quite a timely coincidence that after thinking so much more about cooking with my slow cookers once again that I managed to snag a bargain. I got 8 packs of reduced price beef hearts from the supermarket after going in to buy something completely different. Fate? Quite possibly…..
I do love beef hearts and find that they are quite cheap to buy anyway because people can be a bit funny about eating them. In truth, I used to feel the same, but since going ZC I have become quite pragmatic about my meat choices and also in an effort to keep costs down, I find beef hearts to be very kind to my tight budget.
Many people think that because the heart is an organ that it will have a taste and texture that is similar to offal such as liver or kidneys. Not so! In fact because the heart is a muscle it is made up of the same muscle fibres as any other cut of meat that people are more used to eating. Beef hearts taste nothing like offal and after a good few hours in the slow cooker it comes out tasting tender and juicy.
If you have not given heart a go yet as part of your ZC way of eating, you really should try it! The meat shares many similarities with steak, roasts and ground beef and has a higher amount of protein, thiamine, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, CoQ10 and several B vitamins than other cuts, so you are getting a very nutrient rich bang for your money.
Here is my simple recipe for beef heart and bacon stew. Why not give it a go for a warming and comforting evening meal.
Ingredients for one serving:
600g beef hearts (I used ready prepared supermarket beef heart)
6 rashers of bacon
Sea salt & ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp onion granules (you could use onion or garlic salt)
2 tsps dried oregano
I used just enough beef stock to sit the meat in, but not to swamp it or cover it completely as the heart will give off a bit of juice while cooking.
Add the beef stock and seasonings to a slow cooker dish and stir well to combine.
With a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, snip the fresh beef heart into small bite-sized pieces and add to the stock. Roll up the bacon rashers and snip into small pieces and add to the beef hearts and stock. Stir everything well to make sure the stock and seasonings coat the beef heart and bacon well.
Put the lid on and cook on low overnight for an instant and deliciously warming breakfast the next day, or prepare the stew in the morning and leave on all day to cook while you are out. It is great to walk in the door to a lovely beefy cooking smell, especially when it’s cold outside!
Serve in a bowl with all the juices and enjoy.
(My favourite make of slow cooker, below).