Wednesday 2 October 2013

Hearty stew

I have always carried a little guilt for my dislike of organ meats. It makes sense to me that we shouldn't just be picking the finest cuts and feeding the rest to cats. Meat production is ethically complicated, more so if the only product we choose to utilize from the resources, energy and pain that goes into it is individually wrapped chicken breasts and steak cuts. Whilst I have never been quite that extravagant with my meat, I don't get along too well with offal. Sausages, black pudding and pate are fine. Its not a visceral thing (no pun intended) but rather the smell and taste, so anything heavily seasoned is perfectly edible. Kidneys are out in any context; I have never come across a seasoning that can mask that smell sufficiently. I finally weaned myself onto DH's favourite liver and onions, though it is an occasional treat; my own version is doused in a liberal quantity of home-brew beer to take the edge off (of me or the livers, I'm not quite sure!); after which they are quite passable.

A few years ago, I bought some lamb hearts. I have no idea why I picked them up, I think I was just feeling brave on that particular visit to the butchers. Lamb hearts are meaty in texture and they taste and smell like lamb, although with a slightly more iron tang to them. They are incredibly lean and do need a long slow cook to tenderize, which makes them perfect for stews and casseroles, where a little goes a long way. They are also incredibly good value - I bought six for £3.40 from our butchers shop with the intention of stuffing and braising them. Then I got home and...couldn't really be bothered to learn something new. Stew it was, goulash(ish) style to celebrate the fact that my corner shop now sells very reasonably priced paprika. 

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Lamb heart stew (serves 6)

100g dried haricot beans, soaked overnight
3 lambs hearts
1tbsp oil
1 rounded tbsp plain flour
2 large onions, chopped
1 rounded tbsp paprika
1 pint stock
2 cloves garlic
Ground black pepper
1 rounded tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
3 large carrots, chopped
¼ large cabbage, shredded
Mashed potato to serve

Bring the haricot beans to the boil and maintain for ten minutes. Drain and set aside.

Slice the hearts in half lengthways. Remove any obvious tough vessels, chop and rinse thoroughly. Toss with the flour.

Heat the oil in the pan and add the onions, spices and hearts. Cook over a medium heat until browned.

Add the drained haricot beans and stock. Bring to the boil and reduce to a gentle simmer for 1 1/2 hours. 

Add the carrots, cabbage, bay and thyme and cook for a further 30 mins, or until the carrots are tender. Boil and mash the potatoes during this final stage and serve.

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I added just 3 and put the rest in the freezer, which makes for a tasty and frugal stew at around 60p a portion when served with mashed potatoes. Alas with the evenings drawing in and an already dingy dining room, there are no good photos of the finished product, but it looked good and tasted lovely. Autumn is definitely here.


  1. I've never cooked with lamb heats but you have convinced me it's worth a shot at that price! Think i'll wait until after we have eaten before I tell my partner what meat it is. I don't have a problem eating organs but I fear they will be chewy and not have a nice taste
    The Thrifty Magpies Nest

  2. I think long slow cooking should prevent rubberiness. I will stuff and braise them next time and report back on how that goes x

  3. I used to cook heart in an orange sauce, which my hubby used to love, but I haven't cooked it in over 20 years, since my kids are fussy. However my mum has just given me a slow cooker, and I was wondering what I should cook in it. Thanks for giving me the answer :)

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