Offal, Not Awful: Pressure Cooker Adobo Beef Heart

Another seriously underrated bit of beef is the heart. It’s a meaty, dense, and utterly enjoyable piece that lends itself to dishes like hearty stews and pot “roasts”. I recently acquired one from our local farmer who raises grass fed, grass finished (yes, how they’re finished is important, too) heritage beef, and pulled out one of my trusty Instant Pots to transform this heart into a meal worthy of adoration…easily and quickly!

Have you ever seen a beef heart? They used to be sold in grocery stores – like gizzards, hearts, and livers – but today, I think they’d be difficult to find there. The grocery stores probably don’t want to offend the delicate sensibilities of their target market (translated: it’s too much reality for the set that likes to buy boneless – factory farmed – chicken and CAFO steaks that hardly resemble cattle at all because they prefer to  embrace the delusion that this food doesn’t come from animals). Yeah.

This is a portion of beef heart

But those of us who know, firsthand, that eating meat means that someone has to kill animals (whether by hunting or farming them) also know that, out of respect to the animal who died to become your food, the animal should be dispatched quickly and humanely, and that as much of the animal should be utilized as possible. As an occasional meat eater, I acknowledge the moral responsibility of not wasting food that comes from a once-living creature.

Eating the organs isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also nutritious and remarkably frugal: while even less-coveted cuts like sirloin steak can run nearly $20/pound for grass-fed and grass- finished beef, the hearts, livers, and soup bones can be less than $3/pound. And, properly prepared, they’re no less delicious than steak – and a much better value.

Back to the heart, though – it is a muscle, like a chicken’s gizzard, and proper cooking is key to ensuring it doesn’t turn out too chewy. One option is to cook it low and slow in a slow cooker for hours; in my pre-Instant Pot days, I used this method and cooked the heart like a roast. It came out tender and tasty. Now, however, I prefer the quicker option of using my Instant Pot. And there’s no stoneware crock to scrub out after cooking in the IP – even crusty residue comes out easily with just a little elbow grease.

I decided to forgo the days-long thawing process and try cooking the solidly-frozen beef heart. Adobo is one of my favorite flavors right now, so I used an adobo sauce recipe I had already tried with chicken, this time subbing stevia for the sugar (low carb and keto friends, 1/4 cup of sugar is simply unfathomable, isn’t it?).  I’m pleased to report that the stevia substitution was a success, and that I’ll forgo the sugar in future preparations.

Note: use the conversion table or calculator for your brand of stevia or other low carb sweetener. We like to use Pyure organic stevia leaf extract, which has a single ingredient (stevia extract), and converts at a rate of 1 tiny scoop (included with the bottle) = 2 tsp of sugar.

The preparation process is simple: pop the frozen heart in the IP, brown it in oil (on Sauté), add the sauce ingredients (I subbed Bragg’s liquid aminos for the soy sauce), and cook on Manual for 75 minutes (I increased the cook time because the heart was frozen). Once the cook time was complete, I did a quick release.

The perfectly-cooked (tender but dense) heart was sliced and placed atop hot jasmine rice (sub riced cauliflower or shirataki rice for lower carb options) and some of the “pot liquor” spooned over it.

The final touch was to sprinkle with some chopped scallions (don’t skip this part, it’s an important flavor component). The finished dish’s flavors were umami-forward, nicely balanced by tangy and a touch of sweet. Would I make this again? Definitely. And I have another frozen beef heart just waiting for its chance to become the star of the (dinner) show!