Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where the Heart Is

Some years ago, I was extolling the pleasures of eating doves my dad had shot, when someone exclaimed, "You ate the bird of peace!" I wish I'd had the wit to answer: "And I enjoyed every bite!" I didn't think of those doves as birds of peace, but as succulent morsels--and a rare treat (or more likely, given his cooking style, well done).

I grew up eating quite a few things friends find yucky--like brains and eggs (swimming in butter) when visiting Grandma Paulsen..

Now and then Dad cooked kidneys (lamb, I think), and although the predicable smell that filled the house was hard to take, the results were tasty.

One of my favorite dishes as a child was Heart Soup--another special treat. My sister Joanne thinks we'd have it maybe twice a year, but I remember it as dinner on Christmas Eve.

In my early days in New York, I sometimes bought a veal heart, sliced it, and sauteed it, but I've never actually made the soup, though I must have asked my mother for the recipe.

Here it is as I found it recently on a yellowing page that included other family favorites:

Heart Soup

For the amount that you would want, buy a veal heart if possible, and a soup bone with some meat on it. Put in your dutch oven, probably, and cover with cold water. Cook for several hours, at least 2 to 2 ½ to get the broth strongly flavored. Add the last hour some onion, carrot, celery, parsley and anything else you want. The last 20 min. or so of cooking I add some canned tomato or you could add several small fresh tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. If you cannot get a soup bone, several pieces of beef ribs, it just adds additional flavor to the soup, especially when you use only 1 or 2 hearts.

Especially when you use only 1 or 2? If Mom were still with us, I'd ask just how many hearts did you use, and how many should I?

Not that I'm going to make it anytime soon. Unfortunately, I'd probably have to eat it all myself.

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