Offal has a bad name in this country and we’ve experienced a mixed reaction to the word ‘heart’ when talking to people at the market but once they have a taste almost everyone is converted. We should remember that the heart is just another muscle in the body like the ones we buy packaged up in the supermarket so should be tasted with an open mind and no preconceptions.
Here’s five reasons why we should be eating more chicken hearts:
The most important reason for me and the reason Cock-A-Doodle- Skew came about is that chicken hearts taste great and if you cook them right, they are as tender and juicy as fillet steak.
They are extremely popular in South America and Asia. In Brazil they are an essential part of Churrascaria, where they are charred over a flaming barbecue. 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.
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.
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.
Chicken hearts are also high in B vitamins which help with stress, fatigue and problems with the heart and blood vessels. So eating hearts is actually good for your heart!
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 grain yet the appetite for meat is growing and water supplies are certainly not.
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 we ate more hearts and other less favoured parts of animals, they would be more readily available, as butchers would be able to make money out of them. This virtuous circle could have a real, positive impact on some of the most pressing problems facing the global population.
At the moment chicken hearts are a by product in this country and are being thrown away rather than savoured. We need to change this.
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 the white meat so they are an absolute bargain.
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. We sell them
Cock-A-Doodle-Skew are currently trading at Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey every Sunday and some Saturdays. Run by Alex Prior and myself, we sell free-range chicken hearts in tasty marinades including teriyaki, mediterraen and tandoori, and other specials, finished with fresh lime and herbs.
You can support our start up food business and enjoy delicious, nutritious and sustainable chicken heart skewers freshly charred up on the barbecue in front of you. Follow @Skew_you on Twitter and cockadoodleskew on Instagram.