The Nasty Bits, Valentine's Day Edition: Heart
Each year for Valentine's Day, I write a special Nasty Bits piece featuring some portion of the animal for which there are reproductive and/or amorous connections. Some cuts, like testicles, are really delightful. Have you ever tried grilled testicles?
If not, you are in for a treat. The texture is like that of a juicy scallop, only better. Also related: these yak testicles.
Another year I cooked bull's penis for Valentine's Day, also known as "pizzle." I can't attest to the purported medicinal benefits the Chinese ascribe to pizzle, but it was not palatable at all. Not in the least. (Read: do NOT run to your nearest Asian market to buy pizzle.) Segments of its sixteen-inch or so grandeur were inedible after multiple trials of pan-frying, boiling, and more boiling. Probably, that's why pizzle is usually made into a chew toy for dogs.
This year, I'm staying above the belt. For that special someone in your life, consider heart: a hard-working muscle that's lean but tender. Like octopus, the old rule that you either want to cook it for a short amount of time or a lengthy amount of time, and nothing in between, applies. I just happened to have a yak heart, but beef heart is more accessible and very good. (For more general info on cooking heart, read this.)
Grilled heart that's marinated in olive oil, salt, vinegar, and your choice of herbs then skewered and cooked in a flash, is enjoyable in the same vein of a nice slab of steak cooked on the rare side.
Braised heart, like any slow-simmered meat preparation, is a blank canvas in terms of seasonings. I was in the mood for a Moroccan-style braise with olives, cinnamon, and dates. It's a sweeter sauce that goes well with couscous, but you could just as well braise your heart in red wine and something more savory.
I could think of worse ways to celebrate Valentine's Day than gazing at your loved one across a plate of tender braised heart.