Barbecued ox heart sandwich

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Helen's superb barbecued ox heart recipe is the perfect filling for a summer sandwich, topped off with punchy and tangy salsa verde to counteract the powerfully meaty flavour. Ox heart is a delicious and thrifty ingredient – just take care not to overcook it.

First published in 2015

It’s a cliché to say that the standard of food at a British BBQ amounts to nothing better than incinerated sausages and giant packs of pappy buns. “Charcoal on the outside, raw in the middle! HAR HAR HAR!” When I hear that kind of thing, it makes me want to shout “but those are just the people who can’t cook! They probably can’t cook inside either!” There’s something about the sunshine that makes everyone want to have a go though, isn’t there, and I suppose people who aren’t particularly interested in cooking should be allowed to eat occasionally. Maybe? Bit generous?

Okay so cooking over an open flame requires a little more attention and skill, but I still think that anyone with a modicum of intelligence can manage to grill a sausage providing they’re not completely hosed on half a slab of those little French stubbies you can buy in the supermarket for 6 quid, sweat pouring from their lobster red, knotted-hanky covered head. What? Who’s doing clichés now? Ah shuddup and eat your fifth burger.

Considering the fact you’re reading this in the first place, I’m guessing you have a certain level of skill, and so the burnt sausage scenario is hopefully something you left behind when you stopped either being a student, or cut out those people from that BBQ you went to because they’re idiots who can’t cook a sausage properly.

If you’re going to do meat in a bun, then you really should make it a bit more interesting, so here’s a recipe for grilled ox heart. You will probably have to pre-order the heart from a butcher, and then do ask them to trim it for you. Even past this point, there is trimming to be done at home which will require you to strap on a pair that wouldn’t be out of place, size wise, on the same animal the heart came from. Suck it up. Trim away anything that looks remotely chewy and you’re left with some really flavourful yet lean meat, two qualities which don’t usually go together when it comes to parts of cow.

The way to cook this meat is hard and fast, as you would a steak; it will need only a couple of minutes each side, and is totally fine (in fact better), if left a little pink in the middle. In your face, sausages! The heart is a muscle, don’t forget, so overcooking it will result in something akin to the bottom of a flip flop in texture.

It takes on the smoke of the BBQ like a dream, and has a really satisfying, hearty (groan) flavour, which needs something like the salsa verde I’ve used here to add some serious poke in terms of garnish: herbs, anchovies, capers, mustard, vinegar. A shy sandwich this is not.




Ox heart sandwiches

  • 4 white bread rolls, something with a bit of chew
  • 1/2 ox heart, trimmed
  • 1 small onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Salsa verde


While your BBQ is heating up, make the salsa verde by chopping the herbs, capers, cornichons and anchovies finely, then put all in a bowl and add the mustard, pepper and vinegar. Stir in the oil. If you find it too tangy or have a less than great red wine vinegar, add a pinch of sugar
Slice the heart into 1–2cm slices, trimming it of any tubes or chewy looking bits as you go along. Place the slices in a bowl with the onions and olive oil. Add some black pepper and mix well
When the BBQ is ready (all the flames have died down and the coals are covered in a layer of white ash), cook your heart slices and onions for a couple of minutes each side
Split the buns and toast them briefly on the BBQ, then add the sliced heart, onions, a hefty dollop of salsa verde and cram into face
First published in 2015

Helen Graves is Head of Content at Great British Chefs. She's also the author of the cookbook LIVE FIRE: Seasonal Barbecue Recipes and Stories of Live Fire Traditions, Old and New, and the editor of Pit, an independent magazine with roots in live fire cooking.

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