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February 21, 2010

About that venison heart

bambiA friend of mine recently traveled to Chicago and, while dining out at The Publican restaurant, was surprised to see venison heart on the menu.

Sounds to me like a twofer movie sequel, in which the huntsman charged with doing in Snow White presents the Evil Queen with a deer's heart instead of a pig's, and it's so tasty, they all live happily ever after. Except for Bambi.

Giving nary a thought to Disney, my friend ordered the venison heart and thoroughly enjoyed it.

That got me wondering if anyone around here offers that sort of delicacy. I asked -- you guessed it -- Chef Patrick Morrow, partly because his restaurant Bluegrass will offer game, and partly because I already had him on the horn to discuss a couple of other, aforeblogged matters.

While venison hearts aren't on Morrow's menu, he has cooked hearts of geese and lamb for himself and friends.

"I have some friends who are hunters," he said. "They'll come back, and the next thing I know I'm cooking a six-course meal at their house."

Which the other night, included goose livers and hearts.

"I thought I wouldn't like heart and actually it's very good," he said. "It can be very tough so you have to slice it very thin. ... Lots of people are probably sous vide-ing it because it makes it more tender."

(Paging Prof. McIntyre: Sous vide-ing? Sous viding? Which is it? I'd hate to tick off the French.)

With more adventurous eaters out there, and more chefs buying whole animals straight from farmers, expect to see more "off cuts" of meat on menus, Morrow said.

"In the last year, I've paid more attention to the offal," he said. "More people are trying it."

(Photo of Bambi courtesy of The Walt Disney Company)





Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:17 AM | | Comments (22)


Big offal fan here. When I was growing up on a farm on the Eastern Shore, we would butcher a steer for our home freezer each year, and I learned to love tongue, heart, liver (is liver "offal"?). My mother was not a very creative cook, so the tongue and heart were, as I recall, usually just boiled ... but the both made great sandwiches....

Years ago, I saw a tray of lamb tongues for sale in my supermarket's meat department and asked the butcher if he sold a lot of them. He allowed as how his only customer was a guy who fed 'em to his pet piranha. Given their somewhat disturbing resemblance to human tongues, I wondered if that customer had to be careful not to get *too* close to his pet during feeding time....

Title + Artwork = I ♥ LaVoz

It may be time to overcome that "offal is awful" feeling. We are very fond of sweetbreads (properly prepared). Time to branch out in the name of using the whole beast.

Offal and marrow bones are the darlings of the culinary world now. I dare say in no small part from the combined efforts of Bourdain and Zimern.

Although I did grow up eating chicken hearts, feet, and liver, kishke and whatever other chicken bits went either into soup or into some other tasty concoction, I am loathe to try venison heart.

One the one hand, I'm not overly fond of venison most of the time (too gamey) but yeah, there's that Bambi thing.

Joyce W., I feel the same way about bunny wabbit. Thumper, anyone?

Sous vide-ing? Sous viding? Which is it? I'd hate to tick off the French.)

Zut alors!

"Sous vide" is a noun which translates as vacuum in French. It also functions as an adjective and adverb (as "sous-vide"), but not as a verb. (Of course in English you can make anything a verb and I am a flagrant verbizer and nounenator, not to mention a mild case of conjunctionitis.)

So, I guess the proper form would be sous-vide cooking for a sous-videriste. ¡Olé!

Of course, since you are quoting someone who is coining the word, "sous vide-ing" seems right.

Rabbit is tasty but I would prefer that someone else cook it next time. Too many tiny bones and, yes, the whole rabbit is a little creepy to handle. (Memories of Mister Fluffy) I never had a pet chicken or salmon so those are easier to handle whole.

Ice cream for crow. Beefheart is under-rated.Strong meat indeed.

I like at lot of offal, but have the Bambi thing, as well.

Chicken hearts are quite tasty (Bill Cosby routine, notwithstanding).

I had my first first foie gras (ducking) as the appetizer for my birthday dinner at Sabor. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

This seems like a good place to ask a question that's been on my mind - what the heck do you use chicken feet for? My local Giant often has them and I find it very disturbing to see them in the meat case. More disturbing than pig's feet, not sure why.

Tweety Cat, my grandmother used them in her chicken soup. I assume because back in her day, you bought the whole chicken from the beak to feet.

I've also seen them served as Dim Sum so there are other cultures that enjoy them as well.

And, yes, no matter what you do with them, they still look like chicken feet. I don't find them as gross as head cheese though.

Thanks Joyce. I've never been to Dim Sum, and now I'll think twice before I go!

Tweety Cat, chicken feet are also quite gelatinous, which helped to add body (and/or/if not flavor) to Joyce's grandmother's chicken soup.

You can tie up chicken feet with the whiskers of a black cat and leave it on the doorstep of your arch enemy.

Re: "sous vide-ing."

I never contradict people who have very sharp knives near at hand.

Whew! I always feel unworthy when the Real McIntyre appears.

RayRay, leave my kitty's whiskers alone!

RayRay, maybe you could make a gris-gris for the protection of the blog.

I only use naturally shed whiskers collected from Kitty's down filled silk pillow. :-)

Aww, how sweet RayRay!

Well, okay, then ... but my kitties prefer my pillow!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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