Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicken Hearts for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day can make some people chicken.

There can be a lot of pressure with this holiday. Does she/he want jewelry? If so, how much to spend? Does she think this will be an engagement ring? Would she/he settle for Whitman's Sampler? Best in a situation like to take a unique approach. Food, as in, a home cooked meal says a lot more about love than money does. Let's say, you buy her a bauble for $50. Is she/he worth only $50? If you cook her/him a meal at home, and she believes that food is love, then that would be a loving, genuine and affordable Valentine's gift. If your sweetie eats out a lot, then here is a recipe for something that comes from one of the country's most expensive restaurants yet is quite inexpensive to make at home.

In some markets, you can pay up to $23 for a local chicken. It is not the chicken's fault. Blame regulatory slaughter (processing) requirements.  Growing backyard chickens is one thing, trying to sell them, entirely another. For taste, the locally raised, properly fed chicken is superior but how best to appreciate and more important afford such a luxury.

One way to go is to go little. With chickens, a little heart goes a long way. A great way to consume chicken that is locally grown is to go for the gizzards. Not easy to forage -- you gotta know a guy who knows a guy -- for guy who knows a farmer, but there is no delicacy like a chicken heart on a stick. This recipe is for such a delicacy served at one New England-ish restaurant surrounded by livestock and other representatives of dinner. It is a place where they make their own salt, flavored with tomato and sitting there in a bowl like red cocaine. As for chicken hearts, they are plump morsels are served up on the end of skewers and glazed with something sweet. Pure protein - heart on a stick. Don't be a chicken, give this a try. This recipe is based on reverse engineering plus intelligence from Serious Eats.

Chicken Hearts on a Stick


1 lb. Chicken Hearts
2 long, thin wooden skewers

1 pound chicken hearts (local)

 2 chicken carcasses cut into 6 to 8 pieces
1 cup mead or white wine
1 cup mirin
1 to 1/2 cups soy sauce, depending on darkness
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper



1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the bones in a saute pan and roast until the bones are brown and the fond at the bottom of the pan is beginning to darken, about one hour.

2. Remove the pan from the oven and put on a stovetop. Deglaze the pan with about 1/3 cup of the mead or sake, scraping up the browned bits until the bottom of the pan is clean. Then add in the rest of the mead or white wine, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the sauce is thickened, about one hour. Season with black pepper. Leftover sauce will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely if reheated once a week.
To grill:

Skewer chicken hearts and set over a medium high flame. When the chicken hearts are almost cooked through, about 2 minutes, baste with the sauce and grill again until sauce is dried, about 20 seconds. Baste again and grill just until the sauce is starting to dry, about 10 seconds. Add pepper if desired.

To serve:

Skewer individual hearts and serve to loved one. Take turns. Continue until there are none left or you get distracted.