Asshole Stew

Have you ever read Swan Song, by Robert McCammon? It’s an amazing book, but there’s one part where this drifter in a post apocalyptic world gets picked up and is fed a stew. It’s rich but has a peculiar flavour. There are wolves outside howling and the guy tells the drifter they’re assholes. Then the guys tells him he’s eating “asshole stew.” Anyway, it made me laugh and whenever I make stew, I’m reminded of asshole stew. While I wouldn’t eat a wolf (unless I was in a post apocalyptic world, obviously) this is offal stew.

The only time I’ve ever had liver was when I was a teenager. My mom fed me steak one night and I told her it had gone bad. She told me it was fine and to just eat it. I kept telling her that I thought the meat had gone off. When I was finished, she told me it was liver. Yuck.

Now, however, I know there are many benefits of eating liver, and heart, for that matter. I found a great recipe for an offal stew that’s cooking right now. I’m still a little squicked out by the thought of eating liver but I was reassured several times in the post for the recipe that heart has a steak-like flavour, so I’m trusting her.

This is the link to the original recipe, by PaleoMom but I changed it a bit to use the ingredients that I had. I went to the farmer’s market yesterday and scored a huge payload of meat and fresh veggies. I got 2 beef  hearts, some beef liver, 2 pig hearts, carrots, wild garlic, onions, and lots of salad.

1 beef heart, 1 small bag of beef liver, 1 pork heart
2 medium yellow onions
1 bushel of wild garlic
4 small sprigs of rosemary
1 TBLS poultry seasoning
6 carrots (about 1 pound)
1 quarter cabbage, chopped small
1 cup chopped green collards
1 ½ lbs mushrooms (I used the precut white mushrooms from the grocery store, but I bet shitake would work beautifully!)
2 cups home made bone broth or chicken stock (I only had chicken, but beef would probably work better)
A couple of splashes of red wine
5-6 Tbsp cooking fat, I used beef fat, but coconut oil would work fine too
1.    Cut organ meat into small 1” cubes.  Set aside.  When cutting heart meat, leave fat attached, but remove and discard any large vessels and silverskin (Silverskin is connective tissue, quite thin, slightly translucent and slightly silver in color.  You can usually get it started with a knife and then peel it off with your fingers.).
2.    Chop vegetables:  Peel and roughly chop garlic.  Cut the onions small, especially if you’re feeding this to kids.  Slice ½” thick rounds of carrots.  Chop the cabbage into bite size pieces.  Chop up the already cut mushrooms . Remove tough stems from collards and tear or roughly chop.
3.    Now for browning the meat (this makes a big different to the flavor, so even though it’s tempting, don’t skip this step):  Heat 2 Tbsp cooking fat over medium-high heat in your stock pot.  Add about one quarter of the meat at a time.  Stirring fairy frequently until meat has browned on all sides.  Remove meat from pot (place in a crock pot so you don’t lose any juices), add a little more fat if needed, and brown the next batch.
4.   Once all the meat has browned and been removed from the pot, add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic (add a little more cooking fat if needed).  Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are fairly soft and slightly translucent.
5.     Add the mushrooms, cabbage, collards, and herbs.  Cook for a few more minutes.
6.    Add the broth and wine to the pot.  Bring to a boil on the stove top over medium-high heat.  Transfer everything to the crockpot and set on low for 6-7 hours.
7. Alternatively, you can put the meat back into the stock pot and bake it at 300F in the oven for 4-5 hours.
Dinner was delicious. It was hearty with an earthy tone. I can’t believe how delicious it was. The kids, however, weren’t terribly impressed. Willow doesn’t like almost any of the ingredients (mushrooms, cabbage, onions etc) but she was a trooper and ate almost the whole bowl. She named it “Everything Willow Doesn’t Like Stew”. Probably more appropriate than what I named it. Oh well.
This is a great way to get the organ meat nutrients if you’re afraid of organ meats like I am (or was). I served it with buffalo milk stinging nettle cheese that I got at the farmer’s market yesterday. It was amazing.

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