As promised from the last VIFC review, full instructions for the slow cooked stew I cobbled together using commonly heralded ingredients from the era, rather than an actual recipe. Because I couldn’t find one.
I must give due respect to the fellow foodies for all piling in for this without so much of a squeam at the idea of eating heart, unlike my dear other half who had steadfastly resisted my suggestions at giving it a go for both the sense of adventure and fiscal advantages as a decent sized tub of Ox Heart will get you change from £2 at your local Morrisons at the moment.* And it is very tasty, tender meat indeed though like many cheaper beef cuts it takes a lot of cooking. It’s also relatively low fat for those of us who care about such things.
I have to say this was one of my prouder slow cooker moments and has re iterated the previous lessons that you have to slow cook for a very long time and be heavy handed on the herbs and spices. My soggy bread fear was also promptly quieted as infact the addition of a crusty roll into the mix gives a great thickness to the stew, making it another winner amidst some past slow cooker disappointments.
*please check all their produce origins before buying as although much of the meat on sale is British farmed their fruit and veg is highly imported.
Medieval Stewed Heart
All times & quantities assume a 4.5L slow cooker
You will need:
700g Ox/beef heart, diced
Flour for dusting
Oil to fry
1 large white onion
1 bunch parsley
10 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
2tsp ground black pepper
Good pinch saffron
1 crusty bread roll
Mix a couple of tablespoons of flour with salt and pepper then dredge over the meat and toss gently to ensure a thorough dusting. Fry in a light flavored oil or butter to seal then set aside.
Another glug of oil into your slowcooker then add the roughly chopped onion and parlsey, herbs and meat. Cover (only just!) with water then give it a stir, set on high and go away for 45 minutes and have a nice sit down. After this well deserved rest, roughly chop up your bread roll (at least a day old one if you can) and add that to the mix.YOU MUST USE A CRUSTY ROLL FOR HEAVENS SAKE! Cheap, soft, white bread will give you a gluey and grim final dish. Crusty roll from a bakery, no exceptions. Now go away for at least 4 hours and do something a little more constructive than having a sit down, don’t worry you have time. After this point feel free to try a little bit and tinker with seasoning as you wish, give it a stir if the bread isn’t breaking up. As always keep an eye on your pot, try not to take the lid off too often and add liquid if it looks like it’s drying up.
This will be a 5-6 hour cook and is ready when the meat is tender and the bread has completely broken down to give a thick sauce.
This is quite a fragrant dish and should serve at least 3 hearty (ha!) appetites or more as a buffet or side dish, perfect for a chilly evening after a long day in fields! To keep in with the middle ages theme you could served with more bread and a big glass of beer or modernise somewhat with some rice or a baked potato and something red. Enjoy.
variations- you could use any cut of stewing meat, shin would work equally well. Swap your spices as desired, if the sweet-savoury mix doesn’t appeal you can drop the mace, cinnamon and/or cardamom and use a beef stock or beer or red wine instead of water to give the sauce some kick.