by Tom Biery
I first read fish food recipes that included beef heart and liver about 20 years ago. Several years ago I decided to try preparing my own fish food. At first I wasn’t sure were to even purchase beef heart, of course, liver was available at the market. So I decided to go to the supermarket and actually look for beef heart. Guess what, no beef heart, but some veal heart was found. My first experiences were to say the least a bloody mess. Generally beef heart was not available at the supermarket and when it was the trouble of grinding it with food processors, graters, and other gizmos around the kitchen made it hardly seem worth it. But I continued to try preparing my own fish food.
So you say were’s the beef tips. Let me introduce you to the neighborhood butcher, you know that "mom and pop" shop around the corner. The kind of place that calls you up a few weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas and asks if you are going to order fresh turkey and ham again this year. Oh yeah, so order a few beef hearts from them.
When I pickup the beef hearts, I kindly ask if after I trim them I may bring them back to be ground. No problem says the butcher. The butcher has a motorized grinder that is always sparkling clean and has different size plates. I ask the butcher to use the plate with 1/8" size holes. This size provides the consistency that is easily swallowed by fish approximately 3" and larger. Additionally the butcher can grind liver, shrimp, fish and what ever else your recipe calls for.
A few minutes later I am on my way home to try some new recipe. Only this time without the bloody mess. The butcher never minds, he thinks my fish must be piranhas. The cost of the ground beef heart is about $3 to $5 per pound. I am happy that it is fresh and high quality.
One last tip. Trim the beef hearts yourself. A friend of mine once ordered 15 lbs! of beef heart trimmed and ground. The result was too fatty. Beef heart has a lot of fat on the outside and a butchers idea of trimmed does not mix well with water.