If you’re a meat eater, then chances are, you’ve tried organ meats like beef liver or beef tripe or buche meat or chicken gizzards at least once. What you may not have tried is beef heart.
For whatever reason, many people, who would otherwise eat organ meat, shy away from eating beef hearts. They wonder: What does cow heart taste like, and how do you cook it?
Is it harmful to eat beef heart? If it’s not harmful, then are there any advantages to eating cow heart over other types of muscle and organ meats?
Did People Always Eat Beef Heart?
During the war years (WWI and WWII), as well as during the Great Depression, beef heart recipes were prepared a lot.
According to NPR, beef heart was quite popular during the 1940s, when people adopted what is known as nose-to-tail eating habits.
That is, they didn’t waste any of the pieces of meat that came from a butchered animal, including the cow’s heart.
Is Cow Heart Used in Any Traditional Recipes?
Anticuchos de Carne, or anticuchos for short, is a popular street food dish in South America. It is particularly popular in Peru, where, according to Spruce Eats, this grilled meat kabob dish is made.
Most often, street food vendors make it from beef hearts, though it is not unusual to see recipes that substitute steak or chicken for the beef heart.
This traditional South American dish gets a variety of spices, like garlic, aji panca, cumin, and vinegar. Aji panca is a red chile pepper seasoning that lends a smoky flavor to the dish.
Street cooks make this recipe by cutting the cow’s heart up into little cubes and then grilling the meat on skewers. Beef heart is the meat of choice for this recipe due to its flavor and its cost.
Cooked corn on the cob is an especially popular side dish with anticuchos recipes. Hominy and roasted potatoes are also popular as sides with this dish.
Is the Heart of a Cow Edible?
The short answer to this question is, yes, cow heart is edible. It’s one of the organ meats that you can find at the butcher’s counter, or in the meat section of your local grocery store.
According to WebMD, organ meats, like cow heart, are what’s known as “offal,” which can also include the intestines, livers, or tails, or brains of an animal.
These meats are chock full of nutrients that often exceed the nutrients found in normal muscle meats.
Organ meats provide you with the densest nutritional value of any type of meat. They’re true “superfoods,” according to the Men’s Journal.
What Is the Nutritional Value of Beef Heart?
Eating organ meat often means adding more iron, B vitamins, and zinc to your diet. Further, an article on Medical News Daily suggests that the B vitamins in heart meats, like cow heart, help to maintain your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
They also assist you in fighting off all sorts of diseases and illnesses, including anxiety, dementia, and depression.
Finally, you’ll get a great deal of protection for your own heart if you eat cow heart. The heart of an animal is shown to provide your body with CoQ10, or coenzyme 10, which protects the heart and slows down the aging process.
Is Beef Heart Like Steak?
Given that beef heart is quite large — it’s about two pounds, according to Serious Eats — it’s a lot like steak from a size point of view.
That is, if you want to slice some cow heart up into steak-sized portions, you can do that. It works well for grilling. It just requires a bit of searing on each side of the meat in order to prepare it like a steak.
On the other hand, the true definition of steak, according to The Kitchn, is a cut of meat that is taken from the fleshy part of a cow’s body.
One of the elements that makes beef steaks so tasty is the fat marbling that permeates many cuts of steak, like the ribeye.
However, the heart of a cow doesn’t have the fat marbling that other types of muscle meat have, so it isn’t fatty like many cuts of steak are.
Additionally, beef heart tends to be less expensive than other cuts of muscle meat — it might be a bit too exotic for some tastes — making it a good option for you if you want to include muscle meat in your diet, but also need to watch your budget.
What Are Some Other Benefits of Eating Cow Heart?
Beef heart contains many compounds and nutrients, like amino acids, that are known to help build up the body. These nutritional elements bolster your body’s elastin and collagen production, which makes you look younger and wrinkle-free for longer.
Heart muscle is also a big builder of muscle in general, which means that if you want to amp up your endurance levels and bolster your stamina, cow heart could be the way to go.
Finally, the extra iron in the beef heart ensures that you never get low levels of iron again. This allows your body to build up your blood count and for your blood to carry more oxygen.
What Are Some of the Drawbacks to Eating Cow Heart?
There is a health condition known as hemochromatosis. If you have this condition, then your blood carries too much iron in it. In light of that, it’s best to limit organ meats, like beef heart, so that you don’t exacerbate the condition more.
Additionally, if you suffer from problems with gout, then you also want to avoid organ meats. Organ meats come rich in a compound called purine. This compound can damage joints that are already damaged by gout.
What’s The Best Way to Cook Cow hearts?
If you’ve cooked lean beef before, then you already have some understanding of how to cook beef hearts. We already mentioned grilling it. You can grill it as a steak, or you can cut it up into smaller pieces and grill it on skewers to add some variety.
If you marinate the beef heart for a day or two, it’ll be much more tender than if you just grill it straight. It’ll also add to the flavor.
For something a bit more filling and satisfying, especially on those cold fall and winter days, try cutting the beef heart into cubes and putting it in a stew.
Stew the meat for a couple of hours to tenderize it a bit (though we should say that it’ll still have a tougher consistency than other muscle meats).
Additionally, you have the possibility of cutting the beef heart into strips and turning it into beef jerky. It’s lean and delicious. It also makes an excellent snack to bring along with you on camping trips and long hikes.
Tenderizing the beef heart before you dry it ensures that it’s not too tough to eat. A good marinade will do the trick.
Finally, if you have the means to grind up your meats, then you can turn the raw beef heart into ground beef. Doing this allows you to make meatballs, hamburgers, and other recipes that call for ground beef.
Do note that this type of ground beef will be less fatty than the kind you get at the store. That being the case, you may want to mix it with a fattier cut of meat.
Conversely, if you’re hoping for a low-fat alternative to your regular ground beef burger, beef heart burgers might be the way to go.
FAQs about Cow Heart
What does cow heart taste like?
Many serious foodies love cow hearts. To them, beef heart tastes like beef but a more hearty — no pun intended — almost gamey version of beef. The meat from a cow heart provides rich flavoring and texture to many of your favorite dishes that call for beef.
Does beef heart taste like beef liver?
Its flavor is different from the flavor of beef liver. It’s missing the slightly metallic taste that often comes with other organ meats, like liver or kidney. It tastes like beef muscle because it is beef muscle.
How do I prepare cow hearts for cooking?
The beef heart will need to be cleaned before you cook it. You can run it under water for a bit. Once that’s done, be sure to cut away any veins and fat that remain on the meat before you prepare it.
What side dishes can you serve with cow hearts?
Serve beef heart with the same types of side dishes you serve other beef cuts with. You can try dishes like: Baked potatoes, Mashed potatoes, Potato pancakes, Steamed green beans, Corn on the cob, Green salad, Corn bread with honey butter, Biscuits or homemade bread, an d Grilled vegetables like okra, squash, and carrots.