Braised Lamb Hearts

By James Ramsden •

Heart is at the more polite end of offal ingredients! Try these braised lamb hearts for a weekend spring treat.

In the great spectrum of offal – from livers to testicles to brains to tripe – heart is, perhaps surprisingly, at the more polite end of the spectrum. It is robust, meaty, and iron-rich, as opposed to faecal, uric, putrid, or any of the other lovely things some poor beast’s guts can be. I once – actually twice, come to think of it –  cruelly tricked a friend into eating heart, and both times the friend in question thought it lovely. Try tricking someone into eating tripe.
It’s Middle Eastern week at the Secret Larder, and while the starter was initially going to be duck heart, we thought, it being Easter, we should serve lamb instead. You’ll find lamb hearts in any Middle Eastern butcher, and indeed any butcher you give fair warning to. I got 12 for about a fiver.
This is an incredibly simple starter, and I thoroughly recommend you serve it this Easter weekend.

Braised lamb hearts with yogurt, parsley, pistachios and lavash crisps

Serves 4-6

For the heart
2 lamb hearts
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tsp chilli flakes
Juice of half a lemon
6 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

For the bread
1 large lavash bread, or pitta
Olive oil

For the yogurt
200g natural yogurt
3 tbsp olive oil
Squeeze of lemon
Pinch of salt

For the rest
A small handful of chopped parsley
A small handful of chopped pistachios
A small handful of pomegranate seeds
Sumac (spice easily found in large supermarkets or Middle Eastern stores)

Trim the excess fat from the outside of the hearts, then halve down the middle. Cut out any ventricles and sinews and discard, then cut the heart into small cubes. Mix with the other marinade ingredients save for the onion, and marinate for as long as you can, preferably overnight.
Sweat the onion in a drop of oil until soft, then add the lamb and its marinade, along with a splash of water or stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer gently for an hour and a half until tender.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the lavash or pitta into shards and brush with oil. Bake for 5-7 minutes until crisp, then set aside.

Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt, and set aside.
To serve, put a dollop of yogurt on each plate. Scatter over some sumac. Top with the braised heart, garnish with chopped parsley, pistachios and pomegranate, and serve with the lavash crisps. 

Inspired?  For more offal recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.


James Ramsden

James Ramsden is a 27-year-old food writer and broadcaster. He has written about food and cookery for the Guardian, the Times, the FT, delicious., Sainsbury's Magazine, London Evening Standard and many others, and presents the Lad that Lunches on BBC Radio 1. His supper club, the Secret Larder, is one of the most popular in London and was described by one journalist as "harder to get into than the Ivy."

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