Hold on, hold on…hear me out. I know that titling a blog post with “lamb heart” is likely to instill fear in many readers, or at the very least, cause them to leave and hope that more Ding Dong recipes come their way soon. I promise, I’ll be sure to share more desserts again shortly. I can’t stay away from them for long.
But for now, let’s talk about lamb heart.
Still with me?
Heart, along with many other offal (organ) meats, are quite nutritious. Over at Mark’s Daily Apple, he discusses the benefits of eating all sorts of offal. Heart in particular is an excellent source of lean protein, thiamin, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, CoQ10, and several B vitamins. I’m no stranger to offal, and I’ve posted about making barbacoa and liver and onions before. We eat liver and onions fairly often at our home, and it’s one of my husband’s favorite dishes. Lamb heart (or the more easy-to-find beef heart) is not as common, but after this salad, it very will could be.
As far as the flavor of heart is concerned, it’s definitely more approachable than many other cuts of offal. Many newbies to organ meats try it by grinding it along with ground beef and serving it in hamburgers, thus “disguising” it. I promise you, heart is so mild, if you wanted to start by taking that route (use a 1:4 ratio of heart to ground beef), you’d never notice you were eating it. To me, though, eating heart even in this salad isn’t too “weird”. Heart is tender when cooked quickly and left at a medium or medium-rare temperature, and nearly has the taste and texture of a super-lean steak. There is no “livery” taste or texture to it, which is what tends to turn people off to much offal. And when combined with some strongly flavored greens, spicy radishes, and a creamy vinaigrette, it’s simply heaven. This is the kind of thing I could eat every day – no joke.
I opted for lamb hearts because that was what was easy for me to obtain from my local farmer, and honestly, I find lamb heart and lamb liver to be milder in flavor when compared to beef. You could certainly substitute beef for the lamb in this recipe and it would be delicious as well.
The list of ingredients might seem a tad long on this recipe, as you’re making a marinade, a dressing, and a salad, but in all honesty, it doesn’t take long to come together. The marinade takes moments to make, as does the dressing and the salad. The last time I made this, it was on a weeknight and I served it with sweet potato and rosemary flatbread. It was an easy and delicious dinner. In fact, as we were starting to eat, my husband confided to me that he’d been looking forward to it ever since the previous time I’d made it. (He also mentioned that he preferred this vinaigrette over ranch dressing, which in my book is a definite WIN.) I think it’s time to order more lamb heart, so we can experience it one more time.
Balsamic Lamb Heart Salad with Creamy Vinaigrette (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, sugar-free)
For the lamb:
1 lb lamb hearts, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (can substitute beef heart)
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 t freshly picked thyme leaves
Combine all of the ingredients in a plastic zip-top bag and toss to coat evenly. Allow to marinate, refrigerated for at least 8 hours.
For the dressing:
1/2 c mayonnaise (I love to make my own using this recipe)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 t honey
1 t sherry vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar)
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.
For the salad:
1 head of green leaf lettuce
1 bunch watercress
1 c flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
1 c celery leaves
A handful or two of alfalfa sprouts (or your favorite sprout)
1 bunch red radishes, sliced
Tear the lettuce leaves into small pieces and divide among 3-4 salad plates. Top each plate with watercress, parsley leaves, celery leaves, sprouts, and radishes.
When the dressing and salads are ready, remove the lamb from the marinade, lay it out on a plate, and pat dry with paper towels. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high heat and add a bit of coconut oil, rendered lard, or your favorite cooking oil and swirl about. Add the lamb, spreading out into a single layer, and allow to brown for a minute or two. Toss and allow to brown on the other sides for another minute, and then remove. Divide among the plated salads and drizzle with dressing. Serves 3-4.
Do you eat offal/organ meats? Chime in on this topic (and more) at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!