The Butcher & Larder is a new addition to Chicago’s Noble Square neighborhood. Butcher & Larder is a throwback to the old-time butcher shops of years past, albeit with a more contemporary approach — local, humanely raised, whole-animal butchery. If you’re seeking quality meat and care about how your food is raised, appreciate knowledgeable, friendly staff and great customer service, prefer locally sourced, custom cuts of meat, homemade charcuterie, sausage, bacon, ham, pastrami, etc., then I highly recommend the Butcher & Larder.

Meet Rob Levitt, butcher/owner of the Butcher & Larder and formerly chef/owner of Mado restaurant.

Many lovely cuts of meat to choose from today, but I was on a mission–to acquire beef heart. Had beef heart prepared by Rob at the annual Green City BBQ last summer [where many of Chicago’s top chefs prepare small dishes using food grown/raised by local farmers]. Hands down, it was the best thing I had at the barbecue that day. Levitt braised the beef heart in red wine, and they were so completely tender, just melted in your mouth.

You may be wondering what exactly does beef heart taste like? I’ve heard it described as tasting “beefy” and a bit “irony.” To me, it tastes like a really tender cut of beef (didn’t think it was overly irony like other organ meats). I’m even willing to go as far and say that in a blind taste test, I might have difficulty distinguishing it from beef tenderloin.

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Some people will undoubtedly find the mere mention of beef heart completely weird. I think this is partially due to the fact that we [as a society] have become completely removed from the origins of our food supply. Beef heart, like any other cut of meat, comes from a formerly living, breathing cow. Cow = beef. Keep that in mind the next time you peer into your grocer’s refrigerator case stocked with shrink wrapped and nicely packaged cuts of meat. I love that Rob displays and utilizes the entire animal: deeply marbled cuts, lean cuts, overlooked cuts, organs, bones, and all. And, it’s especially important to me that when I do consume beef, that it come from free-roaming, pasture-raised cows (vice CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations]). Otherwise, I’d rather do without.

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What else do you want to know about beef heart? Let’s see, beef heart has very concentrated levels of CoQ10, B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and amino acids. At $4.62 for 3/4 of a pound, it’s a steal. Have I convinced you to give it a try yet? Just a small bite??

Had the butcher, who waxed poetic about beef heart, trim two pieces (and remove the thin layer of fat surrounding the heart). Each piece weighed in at about 6.5 ounces, and was about 3/4 to 1″ thick (plenty for two people). Since I did not have the time to braise the heart yesterday, decided on a quick sear.

Seared Beef Heart

Very simple to do. Take the beef heart out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Pat dry. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is smoking hot, cook the meat for 2½ minutes per side. Let meat rest about 10 minutes.

beef-heart

Next time I will try braising it.

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