Sunday, January 22, 2012

Have a heart... or two

When I purchased half a lamb from a local shepherd this Spring, I asked her if it was possible to get the liver, heart and kidneys. Since I was only getting half, I didn't know if the organs would be split between the purchasers. Turns out not many people know what to do with the organs.

I have to say, this was the best lamb I have ever eaten and this coming year Ken and I are purchasing a whole lamb and my sister is buying a half. 

But there is only one heart per animal that does not really provide enough for two people. So, the one lovely little heart I had remained frozen in my below 0 chest deep freezer.

But then I found a source for chicken, duck and turkey from another local farmer. Turns out this farmer also raises sheep and pigs. I asked if by any chance he had lamb liver, heart or kidneys. He did! When I offered to buy what he had, he gave it to me for free! He said no every asks for it. I told him I will take whatever the other don't want. We love innards! It helped that I purchased several chickens and a leg of lamb (for my mom). I will certainly go back, as all agreed that it was the best chicken any of us have ever eaten. I can't wait to try his duck.

There is always a back story here, it seems... but today I pulled out two hearts to thaw while I went to my spinning and weaving guild studio where I'm warping in preparation to weave some baby blankets. I had a notion to make stuffed heart as I made two loaves of sourdough bread yesterday and while they are actually fine and fairly light with nice air pockets, I should not have made two loaves but one to get the height my husband likes for his sandwich bread. So, I had two relatively flattish (is that a word), loaves of bread that taste fine, but make for small sandwiches and toast slices.

I have been trying to cut back on bread (carb) consumption to get my weight down. I've lost 4 pounds in two weeks, so I figured a little stuffing just today would not be too bad. I will leave the left overs to my hubby and I can go back on my diet tomorrow.

I was also more tired than I thought I would be after my work at the studio, so I did not bother to actually stuff the hearts. Instead I cut them into slices and layered them into a casserole.

Hearts for Two

2 lamb hearts - sliced
3 slices of bacon
1 stick of celery, chopped small
1 carrot, chopped fine
1/2 red onion chopped fine
3 button mushrooms, chopped (or mushroom you have available)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices of whole grain sourdough bread (day old is good), torn up
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons duck fat (or bacon fat)
2 teaspoons thyme (dry)
2 teaspoons parsley (dry)
1 healthy pinch of rubbed sage
1 cup broth (chicken, lamb or beef)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put the torn up bread in a casserole dish that has a lid. Melt the duck fat in a heavy skillet. Chop up the veggies while that is melting. Add onion, celery and carrot and mushroom to the fat. Cook over medium heat until veggies are well wilted. Stir into bread. Put sliced heart into the skillet and add the garlic. Cook just until the heart starts to loose red coloring. Add red wine. Sprinkle thyme, parsley and sage over the stuffing while the meat is cooking. Add garlic, salt and pepper to the meat cook until there is no more pink in the heart (about 3 minutes more). Pour meat mixture over the bread. Pour broth into skillet and bring to a boil. Pour this over the heart and stuffing. Do not stir the heart into the stuffing. It should be a layer on top. Top the heart with  the raw bacon pieces. Put the lid on the casserole. Cook at 325 for 2 hours. If your casserole is very full, you may want to put it on a pan with an edge so you don't mess up your oven as it will bubble over

When done, scoop out onto plates. Serve with a green salad or lightly steamed green leafy vegetable or green beans.

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