Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Heart of the Matter, Part II



Coeur du Porc a l'Armagnac

What's Guerrilla: Offal has always been a staple of broke-ass bistro cooking. A pig's heart provides enough meat for two at less than $2 per pound. Onion and herb stuffing keeps the potentially chewy meat from drying out.
What's gourmet: Pig's heart has a meaty texture surprisingly like beef. Sliced thin, served on potatoes or mixed mash, and drizzled with roasted garlic pan sauce, this otherwise cheap cut of meat looks al kinds of fancy. Also, high-end restaurants are doing stuff like this all over the place!

As I said in my post a few days ago, I've been fascinated by the idea of cooking offal ever since I first bought the Les Halles cookbook. This week I finally steeled myself to the idea and settled on the pork heart because it was easy to obtain, easyish to prepare, and serves two people just about perfectly. I was very happy with the results and heartily suggest this recipe for a romantic/ironic dinner at home. Perhaps next valentine's day, I'll do it instead of this.

Ingredients:

I pork heart. Get one here.
One medium onion.
A few sprigs of thyme and parsley, plucked.
A spoonful of fat (preferably lard.)
Several cloves of roasted garlic.
Two shots of brandy. Tony's recipe calls for Armagnac, I grabbed something rather cheaper.
Half a cup of proper chicken stock. I happened to have made some that day.
A knob of butter.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rough chop the onion and pluck the herbs. Get your fat heating in an oven proof fry pan, and saute the onion/herb mixture until fragrant and giving. Set aside to cool but DO NOT wash the pan.*

Turn your attention to the heart. Trim of the bits of fat and cartiladge at the top and rinse the inside thoroughly. Stuff the (hopefully cool) onions and herbs into the ventricles and valves (this part made me more than a bit squeamish) and season all over with salt and pepper.

Get the onion pan back on the stove and sizzling. You might add a bit of oil if it looks dry. Sear the heart on all sides. (You'll need tongs to hold the slippery bastard in place.) when It's brown all 'round, pop in the oven to roast until medium rare. I did mine for ten minutes and it was a bit too rare in the middle. I'll give it fifteen next time.

When it's done, pull the heart out and shroud in foil for a quick rest and turn your attentions to your brown pan. Toss in your brandy (one shot for the pan and one for you) and scrape the brown bits from the bottom while it hisses and sizzles. Reduce it until the pan is nearly dry, then introduce your garlic, any leftover onions, and the chicken stock. Let the stock reduce by at least half, pull the pan off heat and whisk in a knob of butter. Slice the heart as thin as you can, and arrange atop mash. Spoon your sauce artfully over, and serve. We also served braised cabbage with bacon and herbs.

*It seems like the entirety of French cuisine revolves around the little brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Wash that fond out or singe it, and generations of French cooks will roll over in their graves.

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