BBQ

5 Reasons We Should Be Eating Chicken Hearts

Offal has a bad name, chicken hearts being no exception. They’re often seen as waste, or perceived as tasting disgusting. But how many people have actually tried them?

If you’re interested in cooking offal, I recommend this fantastic book. It’s full of recipes for all the bits that other people throw away:

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Selling chicken hearts in London – a mixed reaction

Whilst running a barbecue chicken heart skewer stall – Cock-a-doodle-skew – at Maltby Street market in London, my friend Alex and I experienced a mixed reaction to the word ‘heart’. Some people would step back and loudly express their revulsion and some would politely decline. On the other hand, some members of the public, especially South Americans, were excited to finally find chicken hearts on sale, while a small percentage hadn’t tried them but were open to new things.

Fortune favours the brave

Once they had a taste, though, everyone was converted. Remember the heart is just another muscle in the body like the ones we buy packaged up in the supermarket so it should be tasted with an open mind with no preconceptions.

cock a doodle skew logo brand chicken hearts
The Cock-a-doodle-skew logo on the chalkboard sign at the front of the stall – memories…

Here’s five reasons why we should be eating more chicken hearts:

1. Chicken hearts are meaty and delicious

The most important reason for me, and the reason we started Cock-A-Doodle- Skew, is that chicken hearts taste great and if you cook them right, they are as tender and juicy as fillet steak.

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They are extremely popular in South America and Asia. In Brazil they are an essential part of Churrascaria, the barbecue joints where they are charred over charcoal. In fact, tasting them cooked this way by a Brazilian colleague was the inspiration for Cock-A-Doodle-Skew.

They taste similar to red meat or the thigh meat of chicken, stronger in flavour than the breast. Because of this they can stand up to bold flavours so are great marinated with things like chilli, garlic and spices and then cooked quickly over high heat.

2. Chicken hearts are nutritious

There are numerous health benefits to eating hearts. They are a good source of high-quality proteins and provide all the essential amino acids which carry out all sorts of crucial functions throughout the body.

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They are high in iron which is needed to produce haemoglobin to transport oxygen through the blood, and zinc which boosts the immune system and helps heal cuts.

The tiny poultry pumps are also high in B vitamins which help with stress, fatigue and problems with the heart and blood vessels. So it turns out eating hearts is actually good for your heart!

3. Eating chicken hearts is sustainable compared to prime cuts

Put simply, we are eating too much meat and it is totally unsustainable. Producing a kilo of meat uses far more water than producing the same amount of vegetables, yet the appetite for meat is growing and water supplies are certainly not.

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In my opinion, if we are going to take an animal to slaughter we should be eating the whole carcass, and throwing away good food is criminal. If these animals are being reared, slaughtered and processed anyway, eating the hearts doesn’t add any environmental impact whatsoever.

Furthermore, if we ate more hearts and other offal, they would be more readily available, as butchers would be more likely to stock them. This virtuous circle could have a real, positive impact on some of the most pressing problems facing the global population.

4. Chicken hearts are wallet-friendly

Compared to muscle meat, offal is cheap to buy. Free-range chicken hearts are about a third of the price of chicken breast and lower welfare is even cheaper (although I wouldn’t recommend it). Hearts remain juicier and have a lot more flavour than white meat so all things considered, they are an absolute bargain.

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You can order chicken hearts and other offal from a good local butcher if you can give them a few days notice, and you’ll feel good when you get the bill.

5. Chicken hearts are quick and easy to cook

You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to enjoy delicious chicken hearts at home. Because of their size, they cooked very quickly and their meaty flavour goes well with almost anything. At Cock-a-doodle-skew, we grilled them over a high heat on the barbecue for a just a couple of minutes on each side. This gives them a delicious smokey flavour but similar results can be achieved on the stove in a griddle pan or skillet.

They can also be cooked sous vide, if you want to be very precise with the doneness. They can be marinated with your favourite herbs and spices in the vacuum bag overnight and then cooked at 60°C for 30 minutes. Once they’re done a quick sear in a hot pan will give them a crisp, caramelised finish. I will be posting a more detailed recipe so check back soon.

Go on…have a heart!

I hope this post has been illuminating and that next time you’re at the butcher’s counter you’ll think about some less beloved cuts, rather than the usual. The benefits are so clear!

Do you share my passion for chicken hearts? Or are you an offal-phobe? Let me know in the comments below…

14 thoughts on “5 Reasons We Should Be Eating Chicken Hearts

    1. Heb by the gizzards. Very great in the price. I cookking some right now. Little of oil n water creates a gravy w jalapeños and onions and a diced potatoe. Awesome. I eat these babies once a day.

      1. Ha, that is hardcore! So thankful my parents made me try everything at least once, we were allowed to dislike something as long as we gave it an honest try, that being said, I learned I loved Chicken hearts as a child and would request them for dinner often! Organ meats are amazing, tasty and nutritious, there’s a reason why animals eat them first!

    1. i eat mine boiled too with rice and corn, but i add some rice to the boil. just had a bowl of chicken hearts and rice on the side.

    2. Yes, me too. I just put them in boiling water with Herbs de Provence for about 5-7 minutes and voila. Delicious. Not only that …. the cooking water will become a delicious, tasty broth! But … only use organic, free-range chicken hearts!!!

  1. I just tried chicken heart for the first time I did combine garlic onion and mushroom while I was cooking and they are absolutely beautiful and the best thing about it is that they only coast $2 in Queensland

  2. I’m from Brazil and chicken hearts are common in our barbecue, I remember being kid and get upset when my uncles didn’t have them in our family’s barbecue. I totally related to your post if an animal is killed to feed you, you should at least try eat the whole carcass, I always tell people that when they think I’m kind of demonic person because I love eat chicken hearts.

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