The Nasty Bits »

Recipes and stories for everything but the oink.

The Nasty Bits, Valentine's Day Edition: Heart

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[Photographs: Chichi Wang, unless otherwise noted]

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.

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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.)

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

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.

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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.

Get the Recipes

Braised Heart with Olives, Dates, and Cinnamon »
Grilled Heart »

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