Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Odd Bits

When you get a whole lamb from a local farmer, you get the whole thing.  All the parts.  There are all sorts of long and involved dishes that feature hearts and kidneys pretty much intact, with all of their organ-ness carefully preserved.  But those recipes are usually for beef "bit parts" as they're called, or else for high volumes of smaller animal organs.  Lamb heart and kidneys are pretty small.  Over the summer my mom and I tried following a few "variety meats," as they're also called, recipes with her lamb heart, kidneys, and tongue and found it was a tremendous amount of work for very little food and quite frankly it wasn't that good.  Is it important to look at hearts and kidneys sitting on a platter looking like hearts and kidneys in order to really acknowledge that you've been eating an animal that was once alive?  Honestly, I don't think so.  It's pretty clear when you get a box full of all the labeled parts of an animal.  I'm glad I showed that to my son.  I'm glad he feels comfortable saying thanks to the animal that we're eating as a manner of Grace.  Neither of us needs to eat heart-shaped-heart to drive that home.  Plus, if we give up on the idea and the work it takes to make it happen, we get to make heart and liver that are tender and delicious and get fruits and veggies into us all at once!

Apples, Mushrooms and Bit Parts

1 onion, halved and sliced
1 lamb heart, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
2 lamb kidneys, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
2 cups frozen sliced apples
2 cups sliced mushrooms (if dried, soak in warm water for 30 min before using)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large pan over medium-high heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Stir in apples and mushrooms.  Push onion-apple-mushroom mixture to the side.  Brown the heart and kidneys on both sides.  Stir the whole mixture together.  Add salt and pepper.  Reduce temperature to medium-low and saute, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes.

Green Beans and Cranberries are the perfect complement

2 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 cups frozen or fresh french cut green beans (as you pick or purchase geeen beans in the summer, blanche them in small batches and once they are blanched run them through a food processor on the slice blade for a quick and surprisingly nice french cut)
3/4 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook bacon until just crispy.  Remove from pan.  In the bacon fat, saute green beans and cranberries with salt and pepper until cranberries burst, about 10 minutes.  Toss bacon back in.  Serve immediately.