Eat Your Heart Out
Move over sweetbreads, there's a new organ meat sweetheart on the menu.
As nose-to-tail cooking becomes de rigueur in the very best kitchens, more
chefs are turning heart into enticing dishes. In the past month alone,
I've sampled tender local lamb heart, sliced thin and marinated in
juniper, red chile, bay leaf and garlic, at a Bibiana media event and puffy rounds of warm flatbread topped with veal hearts and salsa verde at Proof.
In countries the world over — like Peru where skewered heart anticuchos are a specialty — diners wouldn't bat an eye at supping on
these innards. It's an admittedly new thing for most American palates,
but chefs say diners are receptive.
"There are a lot more people who are trying new things," says Bibiana
head chef Nicholas Stefanelli, who has cooked goat, lamb and veal
The organ meat sells well when he puts it on his Italian menu as a special. "Once
people eat it, they're surprised by it. It's not overpowering."
I'd say it's surprisingly meaty. I'd also say if you're a meat eater,
the less of an animal that goes to waste the better. "We're getting in
whole animals, and it's about being thrifty and utilizing everything
that we can," says Stefanelli.
Here's where to find chefs cooking heart around DC:
• Bar Pilar: I'm a big fan of what chef Justin Bittner does with offal and extremities (like his crispy fried pig ears). He serves beef heart Peruvian-style, spiced with coriander, chili powder and garlic.
• Bibiana: When chef Nicholas Stefanelli brings in a whole lamb from Border Springs Farm
in Virginia, he'll prepare the heart as a menu special and lets the
season dictate the dish, like a recent accompaniment of vanilla turnip
• Butcher's Block:
At Robert Wiedmaier's Alexandria shop, the butchers get whole Randall
Lineback cows, and the organs including the heart are sold for $7 a
pound. But if you want to try cooking it at home, know that the organs
• Las Canteras: At Peru native Eddy Ancasi's Adams Morgan restaurant, you can try the traditional beef heart anticucho.
• Poste: On his 20 Bites menu, chef Rob Weland has featured veal heart cooked in duck fat and served with sliced radishes.
Chef Haidar Karoum will put heart on the menu when he has it. The
grilled veal hearts last month were served atop warm flatbread with
buttercrunch greens and salsa verde.