Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cow Heart Meatballs with Pasta

When my husband suggested it, I thought it was weird.  When I told my brother, he made fun of us.  When I told my mom, she wondered about the nutritional value.  See, Jamie found cow heart next to the ground beef in the grocery store and really wanted it because he'd never had it and it's a cheap cut of meat.  I agreed when he said it was mostly for Puppy Dog and we would just try it.  Well, it's mostly been ours, but our dog goes CRAZY when we cook it.

 cow heart meatballs with pepper, oregano, and basil (raw)

Cow heart is not your typical cut of meat.  You probably won't find it in the meat section like we did (we haven't found it since) and will probably have to ask the meat counter person for it.  It is cheap and ridiculously lean- but also dense and a bit tough.  Nutritionally, it's super high in protein and CoQ10. It tastes great in fajitas, ground taco meat, meatballs, and meatloaf.  When ground and mixed with ground beef, it's hard to taste it, but adds nutrition, flavor and extends the beef cheaply.  When cooked more as a steak or for fajitas, trim off all the fat because it doesn't add to the flavor like normal fat.  We highly suggest marinating it for a couple hours (overnight if possible) and cutting thin, thin slices.

So we bought the small package of cheap cow heart a month or so ago. When we asked the butcher for some the next time, he asked how much.  We said one heart.  It was about 3x bigger than the other package we had bought!  I ended up freezing 2/3 of it.  So, if you're going to ask the butcher for some for the first time, say about a half pound.  And if you don't happen to have a meat grinder like we do (Thanks Andy and Nancy!), ask them to grind it for you.  If you are grinding it yourself, it looks exactly like you expect a ground up heart to look like. If you're making meatballs, try making one or two with JUST beef heart and compare it to heart mixed with beef.  Oh and be prepared for any dogs you might have to be far more interested in what you're making than they probably have been in a while. 

 cow heart meatballs with pepper, oregano, and basil (cooked)

Meatballs with Pasta (or rice)
prep to table: 45minutes; serves 6-8

notes: the onion and pepper could be sauteed before adding to meat.  It ended up a bit al dente when I added them raw to the mixture but I didn't mind. All of these measurements are fairly loose.  I didn't actually measure 1/2c. milk, I poured about what I thought was about 1/2 c.  The milk is important in the meatballs to tenderize the meat and the egg helps bind it.  If you don't want to add the cow heart and just use 1lb of meat, use one egg, 1/3c milk, 6ish crackers, etc.  If the sauce is too thick, add more milk. Start rice after putting the meatballs in the oven or pasta about halfway through the meatballs baking. 

  • 1/2 lbs cow heart (about 1/3 of a heart), ground
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 tiny pepper (or 1/2 normal size), chopped small (optional, I just had one in my garden)
  • 1/2 onion (or a tiny onion), chopped small
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 8-10 saltine crackers, crumbled
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1tbs fresh or 1tsp dry herbs (optional, I used oregano and basil fresh from my garden.  If I was using dry herbs, I probably would have done some combination of thyme, oregano, marjoram, etc. whatever smelled good or I felt like)
1.) Heat oven to 350 and prepare 2 baking sheets (use parchment paper or spray)
2.) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix (I use my hands)
3.) Form about 1" balls and place on baking sheet
4.) Bake 18-20 minutes.  If on two different racks, switch about half way through the baking time

  • fat baked out of meatballs or 2tbs oil or butter
  • 2-4tbs flour
  • 3/4c milk
  • 2-4tbs dry white wine or sherry (optional)
1.) take any goopy, nasty fat that has baked out of the meatballs and use it to make the fand instead of new oil or butter.  Heat over medium heat until hot.
2.) Add about 2tbs flour and whisk, letting cook a minute
3.) Add about 3/4c milk, whisking until combined.  Let it cook until it starts to simmer, let simmer 1ish minute.
4.) Turn off heat and add about 2-4tbs dry white wine or sherry.  Add meatballs.

We had it over ziti with a spinach side salad.  I've never made ziti before so I thought it was cool, but Jamie thought penne or bowties would have sopped up the sauce a bit more (and I agree).  Wine would have gone great with this meal. 

our square plates make every meal feel gourmet

1 comment:

Scott said...

I'm still puzzled how you ever thought this was a good idea. Heart? Gross.