I am just coming off of a long run of near vegetarianism. I grew up eating a lot of meat, but then college meat and vegetarian roommates changed my ideas and my palette. Most beef made my stomach hurt and I really lost the taste for everything else. During that time I learned a lot about vegetarian nutrition--beans, whole grains, dark and leafy greens, etc. And I still cook that way much of the time and believe in value of whole grains and tons of vegetables.
But there comes a time in a woman's life when she just wants to eat meat, and that time for me is now. But I don't want to eat just any meat, oh no. No nice and simple chicken or hamburgers for me. I want beef heart and turkey carcass. That's right, you heard me. Beef heart.
I have recently started cooking from Sally Fallon's delicious, crazy, and somewhat terrifying cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. Fallon's food philosophy is that whole grains and vegetables are good for you, but so are properly consumed, organic, unpasturized animal products. She turns to both extinct and existing primitive cultures that live mostly off of animal products as examples. They generally enjoy good health and long lives that are nearly free of disease, especially in comparison to our culture. The book constantly rails against the "diet dictocrats" who have scared us away from butter, eggs, and red meat in our diets. Since I have started using this book I have been eating more butter, only whole milk yogurt, using half and half, and I feel damn good. Thank you Ms. Fallon.
So naturally, last weekend, when I was feeling up for meatloaf, I decided on the recipe from Nourishing Traditions that called for 1/2 pound beef heart. Organ meats are one of the book's favorite ingredients, prized for their high nutritional content. At first I shied away but with some helpful encouragement from my honey we decided to search out some beef heart.
Where, you might ask, does one get beef heart in Portland? At my new favorite store, Gartner's Country Meats, obviously. The place was packed, this being the weekend before Christmas. This is the biggest butcher shop that I have ever been in by far, with more kinds of meat that I could have imagined. My favorite part were the huge bones (cow, I'm assuming) still covered in meat scraps hanging on hooks from the ceiling. They were for the doggies. Lucky doggies. We waited for about 20 minutes and when it was my turn I bravely pushed my way to the counter and said, "Um, do you have beef heart?"
I'm sorry to have led you on dear readers, but we did not get beef heart that day. They did have it, along with the hearts, brains, and intestines of several other animals, but it was whole and frozen. It would not unfreeze in time to make dinner and even if it did, I don't have a meat grinder. The woman behind the counter said that I could pre-order things that like but that there is a five pound grinding minimum. So since then I have been contemplating whether I could really work my way through five pounds of ground beef heart. Maybe over the course of a year...And what does a whole beef heart look like? Would it be gross to grind it? How much does a home meat grinder cost? These are the things that keep me up at night.
So I won't share the meatloaf recipe because it needs some tinkering and some beef heart before it is blog worthy. I have a few other meat stores to try the next time I make meat loaf. Maybe they will sell me less than five pounds of beef heart.
As for the turkey bones, they are simmering in a big pot and by the morning I will have a nice, rich, health giving, delicious turkey stock to use for all sorts of things. I got my turkey bones from Tim's nice grandmother who roasted said turkey for Christmas dinner. As any girlfriend would do upon first meeting her boyfriend's grandparents, I asked for the carcass. And they gave it to me. Yes!!!!