Lovely grub: how to prepare & cook Lamb hearts

OK! I know! Sounds disgusting – but it’s not! I’m a fan of offal, it makes ‘good grub’ as my mum says (that’s her in the photos preparing the hearts). They are very tasty- if you’ve ever had pigeon breast, it’s a bit like that texture and taste.

Offal makes a cheap meal. I stick to liver, kidneys and hearts. Supermarkets sell these so they are easy to buy. I prefer New Zealand Lamb offal, it has a sweeter taste. I can remember as a kid ‘Wolffes’ butchers in our town displaying tongue, whole heads, lites (lungs), tripe (stomach lining), trotters – it was a bit like going to the zoo checking out the window! A lot of offal goes straight out to the Far East or presumably the ‘Lamb’ ingredient in pet foods, so are almost impossible to get, but to be honest not to my taste. 

Hearts are a complex muscle, they’ve never stopped working so are best on a long slow cook.

Ingredients: 4 New Zealand lamb hearts, stock vegetables- 2 carrots, small swede (500g), small turnip (300g), 4 shallots, celery stick, four small potatoes, a handful of pearl barley, a handful of red split peas. Stock – add 2 Oxo to one litre of boiling water. You’ll also need some made-up Paxo sage and onion stuffing – about 6 tablespoons, you’re stuffing the hearts with that. 

Prepare the hearts. Turn the hearts inside, (push inside out like gloves) you’ll see little connecting ‘strings’ – these need to be cut or the hearts will shrink. Then turn them back and trim off the fat around the top of the heart and the tubes. Keep these, they’ll all go in the pot. Once the hearts are trimmed, stuff with the Paxo stuffing. 

Peel and cut the veg into chunky pieces, the small potatoes can stay whole. Put a little oil in a lidded casserole, put in the veg and cook for about 5 minutes on the hob until they are softened a little. Put in the pearl barley, split peas, season with salt and pepper, pour in the stock, pop in the hearts and all the fatty trimming. Bring to the boil. You may get a scum on the top, that’s fine. Put the lid on and cook on Gas 5 for an hour, then turn down to Gas 1 for another three or four hours. If you can’t wait that long, 2 hours at Gas 5 should do it. 

Serve with mashed potatoes and cabbage, or whatever you fancy, make sure and spoon out the trimmings before serving, or just avoid them on your plate!