The Birth of Beef Heart and Spinach Lasagna + Meal Plan

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**Post by guest blogger & mom, Gretchen Kingsley**

Yes, you read that right…BEEF HEART.

This was NOT on my meal plan for this week but the whole chicken I got down from the freezer on Monday night was definitely NOT chicken when I went to place it in the crockpot on Tuesday morning. My initial reaction was not of shock but disappointment. I wasn’t planning on having a roast, but roast it was…or really, roast it wasn’t. Throughout the day, the smells wafting from the kitchen seemed different and well, it just looked different too. My disappointment soon turned to shock when I pulled the paper packaging out of the trash and noticed these words right away – NOT FOR SALE – I knew right away what it was. The half cow that we had purchased with my parents had come with specialty meats if we wanted them. Special in that they were free. Heart, liver, tongue. My frugality would not let me turn down free meat. FREE MEAT.

I have read all about organ meats and the benefits of eating them but we are so unaccustomed to eating them and especially preparing them, that it is a bit nauseating for even me. I will eat basically anything and enjoy it. Cuy (read: guinea pig) head and toenails were a regular staple during our year in Ecuador as well as my first taste of tongue. I LOVED it! It was actually one thing that didn’t nauseate me during the first few months while pregnant with Isa. BUT, even though I REALLY like it, the thought of preparing the 1 ½ foot long cow tongue that sits in my freezer makes even me squeamish. And so, it continues to sit there.

After the shock of realizing I had a cow heart the size of a chicken cooking in my crockpot and quickly Googling how to prepare it, I realized this accident was the only way I was ever going to get the courage to eat this delicacy. My meal plan was definitely chucked out for the week and I began to improvise. The suggestion from Google to eat it like steak almost sent me to the bathroom and so did not make the cut. You regular organ-eating people think I’m weak by now but the act of preparing the meat makes it almost unbearable for me to eat (note: I couldn’t even touch raw chicken the first year or two that Chris & I were married) and I knew I needed to place it subtly into recipes. Thus, BEEF HEART & SPINACH LASAGNA was created.

Note: During the whole preparation of the lasagna my dog was eagerly by my side. I soon realized that beef heart smells exactly like canned dog food and I continually had to forget this fact the rest of the evening!

Half of the heart after it was cooked.

Strips of beef heart, anyone?

A few pulses in the food processor and it was the perfect ground meat.

Lasagna at its best (can I call it lasagna since I have to make it sans cheese?): Rice lasagna noodles, beef heart, spinach, and homemade pizza sauce

It was a HIT in the Kingsley household. Isa ate a 1/3 of the pan!

***The rest of this abundantly free meat is going to go on top of our Friday night pizza this week. 🙂

What are your favorite preparations of organ meats?

Meal plan for this coming week:

Monday ~ Roast chicken (or so I hope) with steamed spinach

Tuesday ~ Cold chicken and wild rice salad with cranberries, celery, and apples

Wednesday ~ Baked rice and beans (Another great frugal recipe from my mother)

Thursday ~ Homemade falafel & garlic naan with roasted asparagus

Friday ~ Pizza & Side Salad

Saturday ~ Tabbouleh & chickpea/raisin salad (I will share this great summer recipe soon!)

Sunday ~ Popcorn & smoothies


This post was linked to Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Your Green Resource at Green Backs Gal, Recipe and Project Swap at Every Day Tastes, Friday Food Flicks at Traditional Foods, Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health, Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Barn Hop at the Prairie Homestead, Seasonal Celebrations at The Natural Mother’s Network, Sunday School Blog Hop at Butter Believer, Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking TF, Welcome Home Link-Up at Raising Arrows, Fat Tuesdays at Real Food Forager,  Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly The Kitchen Kop, WLWW Link Up at Women Living Well, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable

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9 Responses to “The Birth of Beef Heart and Spinach Lasagna + Meal Plan”
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  1. waggie

    Oh wow…. I’m with you. I don’t think it would send me to the bathroom, but I am very unsure about organ meat. I know that I should eat it though. If someone else were to cook it I would try it, but not sure if I could prepare it… We do get some liver. I have our butcher do a 80/20 ground beef/ground liver mixture for me. It helps mask the flavor and texture of the liver and makes the grass fed ground beef cheaper. My husband LOVES liver with onions and bacon. I don’t mind the flavor but the texture is hard for me to get over. And I don’t understand how an organ that filters out impurities can be good for you to eat. Wouldn’t impurities be in the liver and therefor you are eating the gross stuff…?

  2. Great job! I am so excited that your daughter loved it, babies seem to really know what their bodies need. I always find that fascinating.
    I like to rinse the beef heart really well, and slice it very thin (like deli lunch meat) and saute it in a pan with garlic and lots of butter. The flavor is actually very good. I think heart is a great organ meat to start with, as it has a very “normal” taste.

    Waggie, if your cow was raised in a pasture full of fresh grass and living in a happy clean environment, then the liver is 100% safe to eat and chock full of Vitamin A & D and other fat soluble goodies. If your only source of liver is from a factory-farmed, grain-fed cow I would NOT eat it.

  3. PK

    Hysterical mistake! And funny that it coincided with MY first time using a beef heart also! While yours was in the crockpot on its own…mine was in there in small braised chunks turning into beef (heart) stew. IT WAS AMAZING. I threw in every vegetable I could think of for it to play well with: onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts… then I added thyme, beef stock and red wine…and let it go while we went to a movie. I returned to something sublime. I added mushrooms and fresh parsley at that point and left it another hour. If you have another chance at a heart – try this. It was beef stew at the next (richer) level. (but it DOES take some preparation of the raw heart…getting rid of all the stuff you left on!! Maybe have your husband do that part???!)

  4. PK, that does sound good! I will have to try it again in the fall when we get another portion of a cow.

  5. The wonderful thing about children at this age as well is that everything is fairly new to them so it all tastes different/odd. She doesn’t know heart from ground beef. 🙂 I normally am not squeamish but will blame it on being pregnant.
    Rinsing would have helped. There was congealed blood (at least that’s what I assume it was) that oozed out of part of the ventricles when I was cutting it into strips. Ugggh! I rinsed it at that point because it was just too slimy for me. But rinsing beforehand will be what I do next time. 🙂

  6. Shawna

    Take beef heart ground like u did add to it the tongue (boiled seasoned and stripped of its skin.. ground) along w any other scraps even beef liver. Chop or hamberize it! Season (onions, grn peppers…etc) it fry it up and serve w taco shells… you’ve got cowboy tacos!
    The tongue is best boiled til tender (few hours) with onions and a few bay leaves and garlic… chop it and fry it up w olive oil for tacos!
    PST…. we are a taco kinda family can you tell!

  7. Shawna, that sounds amazing! There is a Mexican restaurant in our area that serves tongue tacos and they are delicious.

  8. This lasagna looks great. I just happen to have some heart on hand so I may have to give this a shot using zucchini as noodles since I’m trying to go grain free for the time being 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us on Seasonal Celebration! I’m vegetarian so this isn’t for me, but organ meat is gaining popularity among many and this looks a fine way to conceal it for those who find the thought of eating heart difficult.
    Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network x