Valentines day – have some heart

Mr Ethivore and I are having pan fried organic beef heart for our Valentines dinner.

Sadly people don’t general eat heart anymore. It was my Dad that put me introduced me to it. We buy organic beef heart, liver and kidneys to make our dogs food (yes they are ethical omnivores too). Dad spotted it defrosting and said ‘I haven’t had beef heart for years, it is delicious but I can’t buy it anymore’. With that we fried some up and have never looked back. Being an ethical omnivore is about eating and enjoying all cuts of meat, sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten cuts’. Heart used to be a treat, the meat is very lean and packed full of flavour. Think fillet steak crossed with liver.

When we think about trying to be ethical in our choices and moving to organic, grass fed meat we think about the cost. The secret to getting it right it to think creatively, heart is cheap, really cheap. We buy organic, slow grown long horn beef heart for £4KG, we trim the fat, valves and arteries off for the dogs and we eat the meat.

Anyone that is squeamish about eating cuts like heart, think about it think way, it is a muscle, it is exactly the same as eating a steak, just cheaper and in a lot of cases better. It we eat meat we should make use of the whole animal, we have become accustomed to standard cuts, but that is all it is, what we have become used to. Eating only steaks, chicken breast, fillet of fish etc. is unsustainable and not really where the flavour and goodness is.

You might find beef heart in your butcher, otherwise try online, there are a lot of traditional butchers and farm shops that sell it. All meat freezes well so buying a box of meat directly rather than from the supermarket is always a better option. As with all meat aim to buy the best version you can find, buy direct, grass fe or organic ideally.

It might look odd when you unwrap it, but get a sharp knife out and you’ll soon turn it into something that resembles a meat product you recognise:

  • wash the heart, pat dry,
  • trim off everything other than the lean meat, fat, valves, arteries etc,
  • cut that into large chunks to fit into the pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning to taste,
  • heat a pan, ideally a skillet with butter or oil,
  • when nice and hot, add the meat and cook for 4-6 mins each side without disturbing. You are aiming to cook it medium-rare, but you can go rare if you wish. Because it isn’t fatty it doesn’t like being over done, it get too livery and tough.
  • remove from the heat then rest for 10-15 mins.
  • leave it in the pan and lightly cover it with foil.
  • then thinly slice and serve as you would steak, sauces, mushrooms and onions, salad, fries.
  • it is also great the next day thinly sliced with horseradish and salad in sandwiches.
  • or go wild, slice really finely, make mini yorkies, gravy, horseradish cream and serve as canapés, oh fancy!

Alternatively you can marinade the heart overnight before cooking for example in balsamic vinegar, there are lots of recipes on line. I wouldn’t recommend stewing it, there are lots of cuts that are better suited to slow cooking or stewing. If anyone does try other methods that work well I’d love to hear about them.

Lots of love and heart,

The ethical omnivores, including the dogs!




  1. Auntie Gina
    February 14, 2018 / 9:45 pm

    Never had pan fried beef heart but will try it the next time I’m able to buy some. Having been born in the 50s my family were happy to cook affordable offal. My father had been a saturday boy in a butchers and had learned many useful skills. When they took on a smallholding in retirement we reared our own stock and the meat couldn’t be bettered. Looking back I remember my cookery teacher being horrified when I did stuffed lambs hearts for my O level practical! My mother would get a pig’s head to make brawn at Christmas. I cooked a tongue just last year and very nice it was too.My dogs do enjoy offal or other cheap cuts slow cooked when I can get it, but otherwise have to make do with tinned and mixer, though if my hens are laying too well they enjoy an occasional scrambled egg dinner!

  2. Margot Cooper
    February 15, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    Years ago in the 1970’s real butcher’s offered masses of produce from animals . They used almost every part . I can remember calling in every Saturday and buying half an ox heart . I was a young mother with a small family and my budget was limited . I could never afford a joint of roast beef . However , I discovered the ox heart roasted up beautifully and made a delicious Sunday lunch for the whole family . Lovely to see it is still available .

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