This doesn’t exactly look like chicken you say? What are these mysterious skewers of meat??
Heart. Chicken heart, to be exact…hope I didn’t scare you away just yet.
I first discovered heart a few years back at one of my favorite Chicago restaurants — Publican. They prepared their heart [duck heart] crostini-style with a sauce of pickled cherries (if I recall correctly, it’s been a while or should I say too long — miss you Chicago!).
First things first, chicken heart doesn’t taste a whole lot like chicken, or at least not like anything resembling your standard chicken breast, thigh, or wing. It tastes more like a dark piece of red meat; kind of like steak, but with that slight minerality you typically find in organ meats. Texturally, chicken heart is slightly chewy, but not unpleasantly so.
Keep reading, chicken heart is delicious, especially on top crispy bread (rubbed with fresh garlic), and topped with salsa verde…
I found these chicken hearts at the farmers’ market (from Eco Friendly Farms) this past weekend and thought, what the heck, why not? You never know if you’ll like something until you give it a try. At under $4 for a dozen and a half, what did I have to lose? I prepared them simply, just salt and pepper, and then pan seared a few minutes per side. You could just as easily grill chicken heart.
A refreshing and flavorful green salsa is a perfect accompaniment to the humble chicken heart. I really love this salsa, it’s so versatile. And, if this were a blind taste test, you probably wouldn’t guess there were anchovies and capers in there, as the herbs predominate in terms of flavor. I recently tested this theory out on a friend (who happens to be a regular dinner guest), and he neither guessed capers nor anchovies. Today, I used parsley, basil, and tarragon as its base, but you can readily change up the types and proportions of herbs, depending on what you have on hand. I especially like the addition of tarragon; it has such a distinct and unique [anise] flavor. Or, swap out the tarragon and add fresh rosemary, mint, or sage.
In addition to serving as an ideal accompaniment to chicken heart (if you are so brave), this salsa is great with roasted/grilled fish, chicken, red meat, or even roasted vegetable, such as cauliflower, potatoes, summer squash, etc.
The crostini were prepared by lightly brushing the bread with extra virgin olive oil and then toasting in the oven. Then, I lightly rubbed each slice of bread with a clove of garlic.
Chicken hearts, visible arteries trimmed (do not trim the fat)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for pan searing
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the hearts in a single layer. Cook for 2 1/2 minutes for medium-rare. Flip, and cook for another 2 1/2 minutes. Let rest ~ 10 minutes before slicing
Italian Salsa Verde
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
2 anchovy filets, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of red chile flakes
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Place the parsley, tarragon, basil, capers, anchovies, garlic, and shallot in a mortar and pound together into a coarse paste. Stir in the olive oil. Season with red pepper flakes, salt (if needed) and pepper.
Can be made a day or two in advance. Cover; refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving; whisk before using.