Take another little piece of my…cooking chicken hearts, now, baby.
Churrasco is Portuguese for barbecue. To many people, it means beef, beef, and more beef; however, in addition to the many cuts of cow that are available, lamb, pork, and chicken are omnipresent at any restaurant worth its salt. There is actually a huge variety in what is served in Churrascarias and backyard barbecues with some restaurants boasting of two dozen different cuts including roasts, steaks, chops, legs, wings, sausages, and offal (organ meat). Chicken hearts are among the most common and delicious body parts to be skewered and roasted.
Cooking chicken hearts are a challenge with an inexpensive, low fat (once trimmed), and quick protein packed with vitamins and minerals. They are especially rich in vitamin B12, iron and zinc which makes them a darling of the paleo diet. They are also popular in the head to tail food movement for obvious reasons. Hearts are widely available from butchers and in grocery stores although sometimes you have to ask for them and they may packaged with other offal such as giblets and gizzards. Other than for eating, the primary purpose of the heart is pumping blood, so there is a bit of a metallic flavor in this delectable, dense, dark meat morsel.
Prepare Your Chicken Hearts
It is simple to prepare Brazilian-style chicken hearts. There may be a membrane on the heart which is easy to peel off. Then rinse the hearts in cold water and pat them dry. You may want to trim some of the fat off as it is high in cholesterol. Marinate the hearts in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice for 30-60 minutes, sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper, and slide the hearts on to the skewers. If you cook the chicken hearts correctly, they will be tender. But if you overdo, they can be chewy. So keep an eyeball on them. If you grill for 10-15 minutes, rotating once or twice until they are evenly brown, they will make your heart soar.
Although the classic Churrasco preparation above is fabulous, cooking chicken hearts lead many to an experimentation with seasoning. You might want to punch up the heat by adding a some minced pepper to your marinade. Habanero would be a great choice because it has a really bright flavor. However, if you or your guests would find habanero’s heat too intense, try a mild pepper. Such as aji (often sold as a paste or sauce) or sliced seeded jalapeño. Whole bishop’s crown peppers would be a beautiful and tasty addition to the skewers. The great James Beard went a different direction and chicken heart yakatori is quite popular in Japan.
Play and experiment!
Once you’ve learned the basic technique for grilling chicken hearts, play with your food. Experiment with seasoning. Most importantly – make a ton because everybody is going to want to take another piece of your heart. Legend has it that when you eat the heart of another creature you take on that animal’s characteristics. If this is true, when you eat the heart of the chicken, you will become delicious and widely beloved by the masses. Spread the love.