When John and I decided to make Grilling For Zombies, one of the key issues facing us was what to grill. Being the head chef, the task of picking the food came to me. John’s the guy with the long hair in the video. I’m Sanj, the one with the propeller beanie. I’ll be your zombie grill guide. Have no fear.
No self-respecting zombie would deign to eat a carrot. Vegetables were right out, leaving, well, meat. Glorious meat. In general, zombies are not picky eaters, so any cut of meat would work, but I really wanted to show something different. The obvious choice was brains, but those could be tricky. In the end, it came down to sweetbreads, tongue or heart. I thought a heart would be fun and make for some visceral shots.
Since I would be cooking for a few people, I figured a beef heart would be the right size. Of course, now I had to figure out how to cook it. After doing some research, I came to the conclusion that a heart was nothing more than a lean muscle with some odd attachments (i.e. valves), beyond the usual fat and gristle. One of my favorite dishes has always been flank steak marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and a buttload of garlic. Would that work on a heart? Probably. Heck, I figured I’d even throw in a little tarragon.
Procuring the heart was the next step. The Saturday before the shoot, I called my butcher, let him know I’d need a beef heart in a week, to which he said “No problem.” I was set. I called John, said we’re good to go and hung up. As we got to the evening, it occurred to me that if I was going to be on film cooking a heart, it might not be a bad idea to actually try cooking one first. I called the butcher only to find they closed for the weekend. I started desperately calling around to various other shops, grocery stores, etc. to no avail. I was either calling too late or nobody had them in stock.
I spent the next week fretting and watching videos on how to trim a heart and left it at that. At this point, I was going to have to rely on my vast experience at grilling other stuff to pull this off.
When the day of the shoot arrived, I sharpened my knives and brought the heart over to John’s place. We took some glamour shots of the heart, and then finally it came time to trim it – for real. I laid it out, took out my sharpest blade and starting cutting away. The first thing I found was that the knives the people in the video I’d watched were a hell of a lot sharper than mine. The cutting became more of an exercise in sawing. Eventually, though, I separated the meat away from all the suspicious looking stuff and proceeded to marinate and season it. We used the scraps for the title shot, figuring they certainly looked bloody enough.
Once the meat went on the grill, I used my tried and true method of poking the meat to check for doneness. When the video shows me poking the meat – it’s not for show. At that point, I was doing the initial poke to see where I was at. As it turned out, it was right on the money.
How did the heart taste? It was extremely beefy but with a slightly minerally flavor. For the most part, it was very much like steak, but you could tell you were eating an organ. A very tasty organ mind you.
So would I do it again? Damn right I would.