We are enjoying our holiday break by spending time with Mark's family in Newport on the beautiful central coast of Oregon. The ocean view from their sprawling windows is mesmerizing, as we look out in hopes of seeing a whale making it's trek south. The day was taking a normal course but suddenly became more intriguing when Mark's father asked me if I liked chicken hearts. My instinctual reaction was to say "no", but after I thought about it for a moment, I changed my answer to "I don't know". I may have tried chicken innards at some point in my life (definitely a liver or two), but I was young, and most certainly more squeamish then I am now.
I was excited to try something new! And in hopes that my son would too. I decided this was a must to blog about, although I know I will have some naysayers in regards to this dish. Completely understandable. For those of you interested in the science aspect, like myself, I wanted to start with a bit of chicken heart info. Structurally, the chicken heart is very similar to the human heart with 4 chambers. However, as with most small hearts, it beats much faster, as much as 400 beats /minute. On the nutritional aspect, chicken hearts are basically good for you, except for one main factor - they are VERY high in cholesterol. Otherwise, they are a good source of folate, protein, riboflavin, B12, iron, and zinc, as well as low in sodium. Not too bad, I thought.
What's the best way to cook chicken hearts? As I investigated the internet, I found several ways people cook up these gems, by braising them, frying them, and even cooking them up in a pasta sauce with wine! As for today, Leo (Mark's dad), was going to whip up his tried and true recipe for scrumptious chicken hearts.
He began by melting butter in a small saute skillet and adding a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Next, Leo placed all of those beautifully structured chicken hearts in the pan to cook down in the butter and garlic mixture. After sprinkling with a little garlic salt, he let them sit until most of the liquid was absorbed. My fascination grew as I watched him cook up these dark meat morsels. About 15 more minutes passed as they browned up every so slightly and then we had our bit-size wonders. I was truly surprised with how much I enjoyed them! I suppose I was expecting a liver sort of flavor, or something more gamey, but they honestly tasted like the dark meat of the chicken, but just slightly more intense. I love dark meat, and braised in the butter and garlic, these were scrumptious.
So the big question - did Ryan try any? As you can see by the picture, he did. What you can't see by the picture is that he basically ate the whole bowl himself. Yes, it was a success!
Leo's Famous Chicken Hearts
2 TBL butter
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 lb chicken hearts
1/4 tsp garlic salt
In a small saute skillet, melt butter and add the 2 crushed cloves of garlic. While the butter is melting, rinse and drain the chicken hearts. Add the chicken hearts to the pan and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Cover and cook until much of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Once most of the liquid is absorbed, continue cooking on low for about 15 min. Remove from pan and serve! Sprinkle with salt as desired.