… literally! A beef heart, to be exact. Besides work and rescue activities, I’m also in conformation training with the puppy, Teller. Well, not so much a puppy anymore as he’s now 14-months old but I suspect he’ll be known as “the puppy” around our house for quite some time to come. Getting — and keeping — his attention at class can be hit or miss depending on what’s going on and how many dogs are in attendance. While he’s greatly improved in the past month, it’s time to step our game up. With a recipe for microwaved braunschweiger (thanks, Deb!) and the most recent find … baked beef heart … we have his mostly-undivided attention.
After several phone calls to the meat department at King Soopers, the two half beef hearts arrived in vacuum-sealed packages. Not a stranger to the meat industry, opening the first package brought back a flood of memories … on smell alone. I have a twin brother and every summer my father, a commercial meat salesman, would take one of “the twins” on his three-day out-of-state sales route. More than just time spent with Dad, it was a break for my Mom who apparently didn’t want to listen to the twins bickering and/or whining all summer. So, for years, part of my summer was spent being schlepped from grocery store to butcher shop to meat market. The smell of fresh meat is unmistakable and, in my case, unforgettable. Know how to cook kidneys? Boil the piss out of ’em!! Haha … sorry, inside joke.
With recipe in hand and a two-pound chunk of beef heart oozing blood on the cutting board, I put aside my disdain for the organ meats. Or anything that even remotely resembles organ or “offal” meat (a totally appropriate name in my book), i.e., heart, kidney, liver, tongue, tripe, etc., etc. Supposedly, beef heart is making a culinary comeback but I’m not buying — or biting — into that trend.
First step is to slice the heart into 1/8″ slabs. Easier said than done as the heart wants to roll with each slice, leaving a much thicker piece than what’s needed for even baking. I quickly figure out that squeezing and compressing the heart while slicing results in thin, uniform slabs. Dad would have been proud … and prouder still that my knives are always razor sharp and made quick work of the slicing. Know the most dangerous utensil in the kitchen? A dull knife. If nothing else, I did learn proper knife use and care while on the perimeter of the meat industry.
Lay the slices on cookies sheets lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with crushed rosemary and a little garlic powder. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes (325 if using a convection oven). About half way through baking, dab with paper towels to remove excess liquid. At 35 minutes, I removed the cookie sheets from the oven (now turned off), turned the slices over, dabbed again with paper towels and put back in the now-cooling oven for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven and cool completely. When cool, slice into very small cubes and package for freezing. During the baking/dabbing process, Teller got a bite. Evidently it was pretty good as he kept going back over to the oven door and looking in at the still-baking treats after that bite. Once completely cooled and cubed, I kept some out for this week’s training treats and stored the rest, about three cups worth. For storage, I opted for freezing and used the FoodSaver with the wide-mouth jar accessory to seal in pint jars. Vacuum sealed, the treats will stay fresh longer and won’t form ice crystals.
Now the answer to the question that’s sure to be on your mind … does it smell?? Yes, but not nearly as obnoxious as liver that’s being cooked (I’m *very* aware of cooking and dog odors in the house). The odor dissipated fairly quickly once I opened the house up to air out. Given the first run, I will make this again but with more rosemary added and the house windows open at the start. At some point, I’m going to try the dehydrator so (1) it doesn’t have to be under refrigeration at all times and (2) so I can set it up in the garage for volume production.
In any event, the homemade treats are definitely a hit with my four-legged crew!! Hubby … not so much lol.
UPDATE: Hold the rosemary!! Evidently there is a connection between rosemary and seizures in dogs. Guess I’ll be using parsley next time around.