April 10th 2011
I had some amazing Ox Heart with watercress and pickled walnuts from the St. John barbecue, at the Art Car Boot Fair, two years ago. The ox heart in a bun, tasted like a delicious steak sandwich and in spite of spending several hours at Casanova’s Bar (also at the boot fair) and getting quite drunk, the desire to eat ox heart again stayed with me.
Last week I finally got round to asking the butcher to get me an ox heart and then I needed to work out how to cook it. I couldn’t find a Fergus Henderson recipe for it, though I have just found one now! There are all sorts of recipe suggestions for braising ox heart, on the web, but not much for cooking on a barbecue or griddle. I did however see that Fergus marinates his calf’s heart in balsamic vinegar and thyme for 24 hours (Nose to Tail Eating), so I tried that.
Ox Heart – barbecue sandwich recipe (4 big sandwiches):
1 ox heart
150 ml balsamic vinegar
a sprig of thyme
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 large onions (sliced into rings)
12 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
olive oil for frying the onion
a loaf of good sour dough bread or some home made bread rolls
There’s quite a lot of chopping and slicing to do here, but when it comes to cooking it’s quite simple.
Buy an ox heart the day before you want to cook it. Carefully trim off all the sinew and fat, before cutting the heart into thin slices (about 4mm thick), as you would calves liver. I put some balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper into a Tupperware container and made layers of the sliced ox tail with a splash of balsamic in between each layer. Use your own judgement on this – I used over half a bottle of balsamic vinegar, the same liquid quantity which one would normally marinate any meat (I don’t suggest buying expensive balsamic vinegar for this either). Give the marinade container a shake every 8 hours or so to ensure that the meat has been thoroughly tenderised and flavoured.
Slice 2 large onions into rings and fry gently in olive oil for at least 30 minutes to get them caramelised without burning. When the onion is about ready, sprinkle on the chopped garlic – it only requires a couple of minutes for the garlic to cook and if you add it earlier it will burn and taste bitter. At about the same time, get a griddle pan smoking hot (or do this on a barbecue) and layer on the thin slices of ox heart – cook at maximum heat for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes per side. Do not cook the heart for a long time, it has no fat to break down and will go tough. Meanwhile, cut some slices of sour dough bread and butter them – heap on the sliced ox heart and pile the onions on top.
The oxtail was extremely tender and had a texture similar to steak and calves liver. The balsamic marinade added a lovely savoury flavour without being overpowering. I tried some with horseradish, but it didn’t seem to add anything special. I also tried some hot, Thai, Sriracha Sauce which was quite good, but, I think the perfect combination was simply, ox heart with caramelised onions and garlic (a slight taste of butter was important too).