Beef heart tea

Beef heart tea
  • Starter
  • medium
  • 8
  • 4 hours 30 minutes, plus 3 hours to make the beef stock



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In today’s sanitised market, beef heart is overlooked in favour of neatly packaged easy cooking cuts, and while your butcher may not carry hearts, he can usually get them with a little notice. As anyone who’s tried it can attest, heart is a delicious offal cut, that just requires a little adventurous spirit.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Start by making the beef stock for your gravy. Lightly roast the bones, beef shank and oxtail in the oven for about 30 minutes. Add the onion to a dry pan, cut-side down, over a high heat and leave until very dark brown, almost burnt
Place the spices in a small muslin bag and add to a large pan with the remaining ingredients (including the roasted meat and bones). Bring to a gentle simmer. Skim of any scum that rises to the surface and cook for 3 hours, skimming every 30 minutes or so. The trick here is to simmer at a bare roll and skim any impurities regularly for a nice clean stock
Without moving the pan, turn off the heat and gently ladle the broth out of the pan through a very fine sieve, taking care not to disturb the base too much
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
Clean the beef heart and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Mince or finely chop half the pieces of heart and reserve
Place the spices in a small muslin bag. Melt the dripping in a casserole and cook the carrot, onion and garlic until softened. Add the Madeira and simmer until reduced by half, then add the beef broth, the spice bag and the bouquet garni and bring to a simmer. Add the unchopped pieces of beef heart
Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 4 hours, or until the meat is falling apart. Remove from the oven and drain off all the liquid into another pan, reserving the cooked pieces of beef heart
Skim the broth well. Whisk the egg whites until foamy and mix with the raw minced heart, then add to the pan of broth. Place the casserole on the stove over a low heat and simmer without stirring for 20 minutes. A “cake” will form on the top of the broth: this is called a raft
Remove from the heat and gently strain through double muslin cloth, a ladle at a time, taking care not to disturb the raft
Cut the cooked beef heart into 5mm dice and place in 8 teacups. Season the beef heart tea to taste and pour it into clean teapots
Serve the teacups at the table, for people to add their own beef heart tea as a starter. Alternatively the tea could be chilled to a jelly and served in the Victorian manner as an aspic – a much neglected preparation
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