Tuesday, November 22, 2011


For 41 years, my heart has pumped, raced, believed, yearned, hungered, lost, and won.

I wonder what this 2-year old cow heart experienced before getting cut into six pieces, Cryovaced, and thrown into the bottom of my chest freezer.
"Mama, if your head were sawed off by a chainsaw, would you live?"
"Mama. can you live without your feet?"
"What do you think?"
"Um. Um. Yes!"
"This is a fun game, Dash. Can you live without your elbow?"
"Ha! Silly. Of course."
"Okay. What about your heart."
"No, mama. You need your heart to live."

I kicked my husband and kids out of the house so that I could cook cow heart all by myself. I had some crazy fantasy that the heart would taste special. Powerful. Resilient. Vulnerable. 
Once seasoned, seared, and sliced,  I just wanted to eat this beautiful organ in its purest form. And so did Wylie the dog. We sat down outside and nibbled together, he the fatty bits and I the lean. It was earthy and a bit chewy, but neither of us minded.
I cubed the remaining meat and tossed it with garlic, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, parsley, salt, and smoky paprika. 
And then everyone came home. Bella went straight to her room, eyes covered so as not to catch a glimpse of what was going down in the kitchen. Dash pulled up a stool to talk hearts.

"Dash, what does your heart do?"
"Mama, it loves."
"Yes. But did you know it can also ache?"
"Yes, like a tummy ache. A heart aches if you eat too much candy.You can even have two heart aches at the same time."

"Feel my heart. it's going boom boom boom."
 "And it's this big."
I put my hand to his chest to feel his heart doing its thing. It was reassuring to feel the pulse against my palm.

"And now, mama,  I'm going to make a double decker cow heart sandwich."
Bella came out of her room and braved the kitchen.

"Bella? I'm eating cow heart. You want some?"
"No thank you. Dash. No. I don't need any." 

Bella is trying crazy hard to be nice to Dash because she wants to watch television again before she turns eighteen.

Bella looked Dash in the eye and said, "Just chew up all the cow heart before you come into my room and play. And wash your hands."

You could make this with flank or strip steak. It's not really a salad. But we've been calling it that for a week now so it stuck.

1 pound or so cow heart
1 tablespoon canola oil
juice/zest from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
splash Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh horseradish (optional)
smoky paprika
chopped chives
shaved parmesan

Season heart with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron pan with canola oil until smoking hot. Sear heart on all sides until nicely browned. I removed mine when it was super rare. Check by slicing it open and taking a peek.  It will continue to cook a bit after you take it off the heat. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so. Slice it thinly. Then stack the slices and cut into cubes.

Place cubes of heart in a bowl. Top with salt, pepper, lemon juice/zest, sherry vinegar, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, parsley and optional horseradish. Mix. Taste. Adjust. I like it mighty acidic but you might prefer it a bit less intense. It can sit for an hour or so. Before serving, use a fine tea strainer to top with a light sprinkling of paprika. You can top it with more chopped parsley and shaved parmesan. Serve on crackers or grilled bread. 


  1. Just stumbled on your blog. You seem very thoughtful and very devoted to your children. I can relate. I have a 3 and 7 year old. In reading your recent cow posts, it was hard to reconcile your thoughtfulness with your ponderings about the cow you slaughtered. I kept waiting for an epiphany about animal suffering and a desire to teach kindness and respect to your children. Why are you so wedded to the idea of eating cows?

  2. Sorry. I meant butchered, not slaughtered.

  3. such a good question. wow. the answer is i'm still trying to figure it out. we've only just begun cooking our way through one sixth of the cow. i would imagine that some epiphanies will arise over time. at least i hope so! for now, i'm just grateful to be feeding my kids a responsibly raised and slaughtered cow. and what a joy it is to discuss the various cuts with them. i love going to the freezer and picking out a piece of meat and really having a sense of where the meat comes from. it's not an anonymous piece of meat wrapped in plastic. we're looking at photos of a WHOLE cow and tracking where the short ribs come from and where the heart sits in the body. i believe that i'm supplying them with information that i never received.

    i teach kindness and respect to my children every day. it's absolutely imperative that they respect each other and those around them. i eat meat. my daughter is on the fence about meat. my son is full-on into it. we'll see how it all plays out. for now, it's an opportunity to learn and discuss.

    and why cow? perhaps i wanted to butcher a cow more than any animal because i've eaten more cow meat in my life than any other. pig and lamb are coming next. none of it is easy. but all of it is inspiring.

    i'm very grateful for your question. and i hope to have some more clarity soon. but who knows...

  4. Ever since you took that butcher class, I've wanted to buy myself a cow! Lol. Now i want to cook cow heart :) I love your conversations with Dash, he has so much spunk :) Great post!

  5. I found your last two posts to be so refreshing. I have always felt that it's important to take full ownership of what I eat. When I eat meat, I try to be conscious of the fact that an animal has lost its life to make that meal possible. There are times when that consciousness makes me more thankful, makes me skip meat entirely, makes me spend more for locally raised or organic options. But gone are the days when I won't think (or read) about it at all because it's too difficult, too upsetting.

    I also appreciate your children's differing perspectives on the subject! Good for you for raising them to understand where their meals come from - it is a gift they will carry with them for a lifetime.

  6. anyuta: thank you. i hope you get a cow!

    katie b.: yes! you just helped me figure something out. i'm exposing my kids to the reality of what they're eating. and then i'm stepping aside (or trying) and letting them attach their own emotions. there's not one clear cut way to talk/think/write about meat. i want them to come to their own conclusions. thanks so much for your comments!

  7. I don't much care about cow heart, one way or the other. I DO enjoy reading about Della and Bash's experience of and reactions to variey foods. It is fun to hear about their progress through often new territory. Poor Bella is doing her best, but HE, "... is just so weird..." She trying so that probably warrants some TV, perhaps at 13. Love your posts!! -C

  8. Just stumbled across your blog & wanted to say that I love the images you post -- they're beautiful! :)

  9. I just recently tried chicken heart, pushing down a rather visceral reaction against it and going for it. It tasted like the essence of chicken, but I still couldn't quite reconcile eating it with a lifetime of thinking the innards are the parts you throw away. Even so, I started day dreaming about the powerful flavor it could impart to broths and other dishes that were just a little more removed from directly eating the heart.
    Your post about the cows heart makes me want to get a heart to try, and see if it too hold the essence of what beef tastes like to me. I'm still not sure how well I can get over the psychological aspect of it, but you write about it with such connection that it makes me want to try.
    And perhaps, having it cut up and looking slightly less like an intact heart would help.

  10. erica. yes. it was intense to think about eating a cow heart. but only because of all the stories i had attached to what it might be like. actually cooking, slicing, chewing, tasting, and swallowing were all very straightforward. let me know if you try it.

    chicken heart. wow. i have to try it!

  11. This is a freaking beautifully written post. i love eating, cooking, and eating with my 16-month-old. Natto, fish roe, chicken gizzards, eel, she loves it all (I'm Japanese-American). Chicken and cow heart will undoubtedly come along some day. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I'm not sure what it would taste like but you made a cow heart sound yummy!

  13. bloom right there: thank you! glad to hear you're eating such great things with your child. what's natto? i'll have to go look it up.

    d murphy: that's a huge compliment. thank you! it was tasty.

  14. I found your blog a bit ago though my friend here who made this epic strew with a pomegranate garnish. And then! Today I saw you commented on my best friend's comment or facebook or something (Paige Green) and then! I see my other good friend Katie left a comment here...this world really is so small.

    That heart is something. As is your boy's heartening reflection.

  15. dig this chick: oh how lovely. it is a small world. and i do love a pomegranate garnish! in fact, i have 3 ready to be bashed in my fruit bowl. tomorrow! and yes, the heart sure is something.

  16. So much metaphor (meat-a-phor?) in hearts. I like your willingness. I like how your son jumps in with a double decker.
    My husband hunts and we eat elk and deer heart, smoked, or sometimes marinated and grilled. It's rich and buttery and intense. Smoked elk heart was my son's first food, simply because he snatched it off the table and began sucking when no one was looking.