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Borough Market and Crispy Ox Hearts with Green Sauce

Our weekends are always an adventure in food – Alex always tries something new, and is also passionate about cooking organic foods for our son Tresillian. We headed off this morning to Borough Market in Camden, to pick up our coffee from Monmouth, and to also hunt down some interesting meat.

We scored two ox hearts for £10, a venison haunch for £15, and an ox liver for £3. I thought I’d wanted some ostrich meat but we got sidetracked. Apparently Alex also bought a shin-bone to make some stock with. He’s always on a secret mission when we are food shopping, his creative mind is working and its certainly not like food shopping with other men.

I also picked up some ginger granola sweetened with agave syrup. I’m not really into granola, and it was bloody expensive at £5 a bag, but the baby may like it and I can sprinkle it on my bran cereal. *Snore.*

Alex thinks that Tresillian should be exposed to all the flavors at Borough Market. I think it is good for him to eat different things, but I’m not sure about things like mortadella, or potted shrimp. But Tresillian is destined to live and learn with a foodie, and that is that.

The baby does really love the great quality olive oils on bits of bread that are available at every turn at the Market, in particular the white truffle oil. And the nibble of really nice parmesan. Also he tried some pesto, and liked that too. He did not like my beetroot and ginger smoothie however, and blew that right back in my face.

After another shop at Waitrose for other stuff, we came home and Alex made Ox Hearts with Green Sauce, and English Asparagus with Olive Oil and Jurassic Salt.

It was fantastic, but felt the ox hearts are so yang, that they needed something slightly more yin for balance – like a watercress salad, or fennel salad, or even a simple tomato and onion salad.

Red wine is best with this dish.  I was let down, however by my thriftiness at the supermarket.  I bought a heinous Paul Mas Grenache Syrah that really was undrinkable.  We quickly moved on to a Gerard Bertrand Tautavel that while also a very good buy, is OK.  Not great but not as big a disappointment.

Did you know that ox hearts have less fat than the leanest meat and more iron and copper than any other meat?

Ox Hearts with Green Sauce
One ox heart should provide enough high-quality, low fat protein to feed 8-10 people. A single chamber or quarter of a heart, will comfortably feed 2-4 people, depending on what else is being served.

Take one ox heart, divide the chambers. On the interior wall, trim away the thin, shiny membrane. If left on, it will shrink, causing the muscle to curl when cooking.

Slice the meat thinly into long strips. Ideally the meat should be marinated overnight, but this is not strictly necessary.

Liberally douse with good olive oil, finely grated lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, and fresh thyme if available. A must is toasted, ground fennel seeds. A delicious alternative to the fennel seeds is crushed juniper berries.  Then, douse with 3 teaspoons of good balsamic vinegar and if possible, leave to marinade.

DO NOT add any salt to the marinade. Instead, salt just prior to cooking, ideally with finely ground Jurassic salt.

The meat is best cooked on a good, heavy (preferably cast iron) griddle pan. The key is to get a good char. Grill intensely so you get crispy charred lines. Turn over and repeat on the other side. Some prefer hearts rare, or pink. This is fine, but the char really adds a different flavor. The thinner you are able to cut the meat, the more successful the char will be.

Serve hot with fresh green sauce.

Green Sauce
Green sauce is a key staple for the kitchen; it imparts a savory flavor to fish, meat, and game. There are many variations on green sauce, the key four ingredients are small salted capers, anchovies, at least three fresh green herbs, and garlic.

Depending on season and availability, feel free to vary the herbs, however, parsley, mint, and tarragon are a classic combination.

To these one can add dill, a small amount of basil, a few blades of rosemary, or any of chervil, sorrel, etc. You can even add peppery watercress leaves, though these may turn brown so should only be added to a sauce you intend to serve immediately.

The other two key ingredients are an acid such as lemon juice, or white wine vinegar, and a certain amount of olive oil to bring the sauce together and vary the thickness as desired.

Making the sauce couldn’t be easier. Finely mince all of your green leaves. To this add one or two finely minces cloves of garlic, six or seven anchovy fillets, and a handful of gently rinsed salted capers. Avoid vinegared capers but moderate the acid to taste.

Roughly chop the capers and add to your mixture – add enough olive oil so that the sauce comes together to a spoon-able consistency. Add your acid to taste. You should not need any salt, if required take extreme care while adding.

Allow the flavors in the sauce to get to know each other for an hour or so. Drizzle or spoon your green sauce over your freshly grilled ox hearts.

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