|Not a bison heart. This is Whitaker. He lives with my friend who provided the heart. I didn’t want to gross you all out at the outset.|
My friend Diane works for the Nature Conservancy. They manage a bison herd in Colorado and every year, when they cull the herd, they offer bison meat to their employees. What an incredible opportunity for a cook! Since I have a lot of freezer space, I get to store a lot of it. And, since I’m a chef, I also get to help her cook it. You can see what I did with part of the liver here.
I do not have any recipes for bison heart. So we went with a Flemish recipe for lamb hearts. Flemish = lots of beer, one of Diane’s favorite things.
|Diane was intrigued by the muscle fibers. Certainly doesn’t look like any other cut of meat.|
If you get a whole heart, you’ll need to do a bunch of trimming. All the big blood vessels have to be cut out (they are like rubber bands, even after long cooking). Cut it so you can lay it flat, cut into slices, then dice it.
|The chunk o’ bison heart. Just a part. It only weighed about 1.5 pounds. Nicely cleaned up by the processor!|
Heart is a big muscle so it takes a while to cook. It’s also a little sweet which results in a very interesting play of flavors with the beer. If you love beer, particularly the hoppy notes, this is the recipe for you. Diane said that the bitter hoppiness mellowed the second day. It was pretty intense the night we cooked it.
Bison Hearts, Flemish Style (originally Lamshart op Zijn Vlaams)
1 pound heart, cleaned of large tubes (very chewy) and fibrous tissue
6 Tablespoons butter
2 slices bacon, diced
2 medium onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
a pinch of dried basil
2 cups good quality Belgian-style beer (we used a local microbrew)
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Dice heart and set aside. Heat a heavy pan with a cover over medium heat. Cook bacon until fat is released. Add butter, onions, and heart. Cook until onions are lightly browned. Sprinkle with flour, salt, pepper, and a pinch of basil. Pour in beer and vinegar and stir well. Bring to a boil. Cover tightly, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hour, until heart is tender. Stir in mustard and sugar and cook another 15 minutes.Serve with a big Belgian beer, of course!
From Time-Life The Good Cook: Variety Meats, a series that is now out of print but one of the best collections of recipes, ever.