Cook Hearts For Valentine's Day With These Tips From Andrew Zimmern - Exclusive

Andrew Zimmern in glasses
Andrew Zimmern in glasses - Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

A perfect Valentine's Day dinner can mean something different for everyone. For many, there's nothing better than reservations at a romantic restaurant. Still, others are partial to a home-cooked meal — like Andrew Zimmern, for example. Ahead of his upcoming appearance at the 2024 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Tasting Table spoke with the "Bizarre Foods" star in an exclusive interview. Though Zimmern's vast restaurant recommendations point to Miami as a new culinary capital, he has other ideas when it comes to celebrating Valentine's Day. "Everyone says, 'What's an aphrodisiac?' And I always say, 'Dinner at home,'" he tells Tasting Table.

It's understandable — if you're in the kitchen half as much as Zimmern, a night off can be a welcome reprieve. "I prefer, if there's someone in my life, that they cook for me that night because I typically will do all the cooking in any relationship that I'm in," he says. But when Zimmern's in charge of the Valentine's Day menu, he loves to serve up one dish in particular: Heart. "The heart is something that I'm a big fan of," says the chef. It may sound unconventional, but Zimmern's approach to cooking this on-theme organ is sure to make you (and your Valentine) swoon.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

Try Cooking Chicken Hearts This Valentine's Day

Pan containing raw chicken hearts
Pan containing raw chicken hearts - Stefan Tomic/Getty Images

The first step to giving your heart away this Valentine's Day is selecting the best variety from the butcher's counter. If you're feeling a little lost, Andrew Zimmern has advice for offal newbies: Start small. "I happen to think eating lightly that night is more fun than creating a situation where you're comatose," he tells Tasting Table. One of his go-to recipes involves chicken hearts, a diminutive protein that's similar in taste to dark meat poultry. That said, the chef's also a fan of serving calves' hearts — though we'll get to his tips for cooking larger organ meats a bit later.

If you're working with chicken hearts, Zimmern suggests marinating them in "soy sauce, ginger, a little bit of mirin, and garlic," before placing them onto skewers. While the chef prefers to cook his chicken hearts over an open flame, you can use an electric grill or cast iron pan over high heat if you don't have access to one at home. "Just lay [the hearts] in the fire on the hot coals, and just let them char on one side, and eat them medium rare," he says. Since smaller hearts like chicken cook fairly quickly, you may want to start with one or two to gauge the optimal grilling time for each side. Like liver, this delicate protein is easy to overdo, and a rubbery texture can be off-putting for those trying the organ meat for the first time.

Andrew Zimmern's Tips For Mouthwatering Calves' Hearts

Close up of raw calves' hearts
Close up of raw calves' hearts - Losangela/Shutterstock

Andrew Zimmern is also fond of cooking with calves' hearts. Lean and rich in nutrients like B vitamins and iron, these weighty hearts will whet the appetite of any red meat fan on Valentine's Day. And don't be put off by their vascular appearance — it's a snap to prep hearts at home, says Zimmern. "If you have a larger heart, just cut it halfway through on one side and open it up like a book," he tells us. After trimming away the heart's tendons, you should be left with a six to eight-ounce steak that has faintly curved edges. "It's got very little fat, so just sear it rare," says the chef.

After letting each heart rest, slice them up thinly and prepare your dressing. Zimmern's recipe includes a dash of salt, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon — but he has one secret ingredient that will make your heart sing. "I take rosemary, a few sprigs, and just char [it] in an open fire," says Zimmern. "Then, take those charred rosemary leaves, strip them off, and use them as a seasoning." In the absence of an open fire, try broiling fresh rosemary leaves for a minute or two in your air fryer or convection oven to obtain a similar effect.Be sure to catch Andrew Zimmern at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival from February 22-25.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.