Beef Heart Burgers and No-Bake Potato Buns
This menu makes me think of 50s early rock, especially rockabilly. So there’s a punky Spotify playlist for your prep and noshing. Eddie Cochran had a too-short life, but a powerful influence in music. Many music historians credit him for the birth of punk rock by way of his tune, “Somethin’ Else.” Punk is in-your-face and the main course is too—so let’s get to the “heart” of the matter and have somethin’ else for supper.
The prevailing advice is: eat more organ meats. It’s where the great stuff is. But most people are put off by offal. I have my limits, but I also have the motivation to expand those limits since I know how good these foods are for robust health. Plus I have my DH (darling husband) for inspiration because there aren’t any pieces/parts this Cajun hasn’t tried, and he enjoys them all.
First up: heart. I picked up some grassfed/grass-finished beef heart, kidney and liver from Brookshire Farm (Abbeville, LA) at the Lafayette Hub City Market and decided that as ground meat, heart would be simple to incorporate into a dish. With my cheap but effective grinder, it was easy to add this often-forgotten, nutrient-packed meat into my burgers.
I wasn’t as intimidated by the raw meat as I thought I’d be. Bless them, the folks at Brookshire Farm sliced the heart prior to packaging, and I didn’t have to deal with a whole organ. I combined four ounces of the ground heart with three-quarters of a pound of ground, grassfed beef.
I wanted a real burger to eat out of hand, and I didn’t want to use a long list of ingredients. Plus I wanted something that I could make on the stove in under 30 minutes. The result is a potato cake that works well and tastes great. I purposely didn’t season the “buns” with anything other than salt, since burger buns are plain. The key to this hack is using only a tiny bit of oil in the pan so the bun wouldn’t be greasy on the fingers. You could use sweet potatoes instead of white, though I’m not sure if they hold together as well.
Then I assembled the burgers with garden tomato slices, lettuce, and some fresh goat cheese flavored with herbs and garlic. Along with the burgers I served grilled pattypan squash and melon and cucumber salad—light, refreshing, and no awful offal.
Finally leave to the scientists to figure out the best way to hold a loaded burger so all the goodies stay inside the bun. Here’s a graphic of how to do it:
- 3/4 lb. ground beef grassfed or best you can afford
- 1/4 lb. beef heart ground
- 1/4 cup soft goat cheese optional
- 4 lettuce leaves optional
- 4 slices ripe tomato optional
Cut beef heart into 1-inch chunks while partially frozen (this makes grinding easier). Grind into a medium bowl. You can also reduce the heart pieces in a food processor. Pulse in very short bursts, checking every two pulses for consistency. Scrape down the processor bowl between pulses. Do not over process.
Add ground beef and with two forks toss together with ground heart combining the two. Form into 4-ounce patties.
To cook on the stove: heat cast iron or other skillet on medium high heat until hot. Sprinkle surface of skillet with generous dusting of salt. Add patties and cook for two minutes. Turn the patties over and cook for two minutes. Turn patties again and cook for two minutes. Check temperature with instant read thermometer, inserting the tip of the thermometer horizontally through the patties: 125 degrees for medium rare, 130 for medium and 135 to 140 for medium well. Continue cooking until desired temperature is reached. Serve with toppings of your choice.
- 4 medium red-skinned potatoes peeled
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ghee or other fat
Using the large holes on a box grater, shred potatoes. On a clean kitchen towel, place a large handful of shredded potatoes and wring out as much liquid as possible. Remove from towel and add to a large mixing bowl. Squeeze liquid from remaining potatoes in batches as needed.
Sprinkle with tapioca starch and salt. Toss to mix thoroughly. Heat 12-inch skillet on medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp. ghee or oil to skillet, spreading it evenly over the surface with a basting brush. Using a half-cup measure, scoop up potato mixture and place in the skillet. With a spatula smooth the round into a 3-3 1/2-inch circle about 1/3-inch high. Continue with remaining potato mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn potato cakes over and cook on that side for 5 minutes, covered. Remove cover, turn cakes over and cook for 2 minutes, uncovered or until spotty, golden brown. Turn again and cook for 2 minutes more, uncovered. Remove to cooling rack. Cakes can be reheated briefly in dry skillet over medium heat if making ahead of time.
- 2 pattypan squash ends removed, sliced crossways and then horizontally in 1/2-inch slices
- 2 tsp organic olive oil
- salt, pepper, and seasonings of your choice
- 1 tbsp fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, and/or rosemary
Toss squash slices with olive oil, seasonings and herbs. Cook on grill or grill pan 5-6 minutes per side until browned and cooked to your liking. Cut off a taste to check for doneness.
- 1 cantalope peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 cucumber cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 lime zest removed and juiced
- 2 tsp raw honey optional
Combine melon and cucumber in a bowl. Mix together lime juice and zest and honey until combined. Pour over melon and cucumber. Serve chilled.