You may or may not remember me mentioning Boris earlier this year. If you are unfamiliar with Boris, you can read about him in this post.
Much of Boris was ill-suited to simple cooking – he was an older pig, well past the usual butchering age, and his meat was tougher than something you might buy in the store.
Part of our portion, which consisted of things like the head, the liver, bones (for stock), a few cuts of meat, some of the belly, also included the heart. I’ve had it in the freezer in a vacuum-sealed bag for months now, and the other day, I decided to thaw it and cook it.
Now, this post will contain pictures of said heart. No gratuitous blood or gore – just a simple – and simply beautiful – heart.
I will tell you, also, that, as I have with all of our Boris-processing projects, I felt…reverence.
Okay, if you are squeamish and don’t want to see a heart, click away and read something else. Otherwise, come along.
This is Boris’s heart. It was bigger than my fist, but then, Boris was a 700 pound animal.
I think it’s incredibly beautiful.
I ran cold water through the blood vessels to clean out any remaining blood clots – yes, there were some. They reminded me of my first few days at home after having my kids…but I won’t get into that; this is a food post.
I don’t know where that hole in the heart came from. I suspect whoever did the (rather slipshod) butchering job pierced the heart while slicing up the rest of Boris, but I’m not sure. There was another hole on the opposite side, like something had gone straight through.
I sliced the heart into two pieces. I could have left it whole, sliced an opening, stuffed the cavity, and then stitched it back up, but I wanted it to cook relatively quickly, so I decided to cook it “open-faced” instead.
Here are some pictures I took of the heart before I finished trimming and stuffing it.
The thin strands in the image directly above were incredibly strong. When I was slicing through the heart, it sounded like I was sawing through cartilage, but it turned out to be these fibrous strands. I removed them because I didn’t think they’d be pleasant to eat.
I also trimmed away the blood vessels at the top of the heart, but other than that, I didn’t do too much else.
We think of the heart as an organ, but it’s really a muscle – a very strong muscle that is exercised more than any other muscle in the body. It’s lean, and doesn’t have any sort of “organy” flavor. Not that I would have minded – I like liver and kidney and the like.
Anyway. For the stuffing, I went very simple – equal parts white bread and Ritz crackers, sauteed onion, celery and garlic, fresh sage, thyme, rosemary and a bit of oregano, salt and pepper, and some chicken stock.
I placed the two halves of the heart in my dutch oven, piled the stuffing on top, and added more chicken stock to make sure the whole thing stayed very moist.
Then I put the lid on the pot and put the whole thing inside a 325 F oven for an hour. At that point I dropped the temperature to 300 F and left it for another half hour. Finally, I removed the lid and let it cook another fifteen minutes or so to allow some of the moisture (I put in way more stock than I needed) to cook off.
Apart from the rather soupy stuffing (it still tasted good, though), this dish was fantastic. Yes – I’ll say it again, with italics and all caps: FANTASTIC!
The heart was tender and flavorful, and the stuffing was all cozy and comforting.
Bill and I had just a little bit that night, because we’d already eaten the rest of dinner earlier and we weren’t terribly hungry.
We served the rest of it a couple of days ago to our kids (and ourselves) and Bill’s uncle and cousin who are here for a visit. They both liked the heart, and Bill’s cousin isn’t always enthusiastic about some of the weird things we dish up. But she honestly enjoyed this. Alex and Julia did, too, especially Alex.
And that’s the story of the heart of Boris.