Wednesday 8 May 2013

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

One of my fondest memories of my recent stay in Cuba was an all-inclusive hotel in Varadero where we spent five nights. Although the hotel was basic (the rating couldn't have been higher than three stars, and this is from an ex-tour-operator), the staff were friendly and the food well cooked. It was a wonderful occasion for me to rekindle my love for offal.

Offal gets a bad reputation frequently. All those bloody intestines making us feel like vultures picking over the remains of a dead animal. Yet, I love viscera. And I agree with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's  who recently said that "meat-eaters ought to eat all the parts of an animal, not just the pretty bits". Apparently he has an Offal Manifesto. This column is my way of signing up to it.

Paprikash of hearts and livers

2 lamb or pigs' hearts
500g lamb or pigs' liver
2 tbsp olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil (or lard)
1kg onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp smoked paprika (or Spanish pimentón)
2 tsp hot paprika
200ml tomato passata
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the hearts in half lengthways and trim out the coarse ventricles. Rinse the hearts in cold water, and pat dry. Trim any coarse sinews off the liver and cut it into four pieces.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy casserole, add the onions and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add all the paprika, stir in well and cook for a couple of minutes.

Heat the rest of the oil in a separate pan and brown all the offal pieces in it, turning occasionally so they colour all over. Add the offal to the onion pot, together with the passata and a small glass of water. Bring to a very gentle simmer and cover. Cook over the lowest possible heat or in a very low oven (120C/250C/gas mark ½) for at least two hours, until the meat is very tender. Check occasionally, turning and adding a little water if it looks dry.

When the meat is cooked, check the consistency of the sauce: it should be thick, rich and pulpy. If need be, cook it for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. You could finish the dish by stirring in a spoonful of soured cream or, as I prefer to do, just take soured cream to the table to serve with it. Accompany with mash or rice.

The music to go with this recipe MUST be rich in content. Just like the ubiquitous iron in lamb or pigs' livers. That's why my first musical offer is Cuban artist WIlliam Vivanco with a little number whose genre I could very well call "Afro-trova". Olokun is one of the deities commonly found in the Yoruba pnatheon. He is the owner of the depths of the ocean. Enjoy.

Hear that sizzling sound? It's Babe Ruth's bluesy sound. Ha, bet you'd already forgot about this band! Well, let me tell you something, this is an usual blog that likes to promote itself as the place where music and food go hand in hand together. Now, Gimmie Some Leg, will ya?

And after such a hearty meal of hearts and livers (no pun intended), how about some chocolate? But only if you have it Tom Waits' style. And if you don't fancy any, I'll have your portion, thank you very much. Happy eating!

Next Post: "Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music", to be published on Sunday 12th May at 10am (GMT)

Photo taken from


  1. What a meal! Thanks for inviting us.

  2. Lots of treats today on the videos! I hope you are enjoying your spring. We hear big news from your way that Prince Charles is finally taking over some of his mother's duties. Must be interesting!

  3. Offal is awful - in my book anyway. Just the same, I do approve wholeheartedly of the 'if you eat some of it, eat all of it' concept. And I don't. I still remember offal battles with my father. He ate everything which was put in front of him (if he didn't like a meal it wasn't served) so we should too.
    Just the same my mother did try hard to tell me that I couldn't be a vegetarian because I don't like brussel sprouts. She was wrong.
    Great post - thank you.

  4. Oh, I love Tom Waits... Hate meat so I had to skip that bit...

  5. oh man....that sounds so good...i am rather fond of liver and onions...the spices sound great as the music as well man...gonna listen to them a bit as i read....

  6. That does not sound appetizing at all to me at your hall

  7. good music...good food...what else could you want...smiles...would def. like to try this

  8. Ha, for the second time in less than a month I've managed to divide my readers and felow bloggers. First it was Maggie and now it's offal. Can I make up a new phrase and say that the late Margaret Thatcher had an offal effect on people? :-)

    I'm having pork chops tomorrow night for dinner.

    Greetings from London.

  9. I will pass on the hearts and liver, but the music is top notch.. Would love to see Cuba someday.

  10. At first I thought I saw 500 lamb or pigs liver. I'm a vegan. Haaaaa. 500...ackkk. Actually, the whole recipe is jarring. But I'm glad you like it ;).

    Let me guess that you never cooked this, pre-marriage, as a romantic dinner for your wife. (or she'd not be your wife?)~Mary

  11. Definitely not for the faint of heart! I will admit to being a viscera whimp. No shame.

  12. Look delicious but many times I dont eat these:)) Maybe cause Esperanza is veggie (only eat fish) I dont make these food in years! but I have to say look amazing!
    We have cuban restaurants here and are amazing!

  13. mashed potatoes is hard to fail with.

  14. This sounds ravishing! I must try it before too long. Thanks for.

  15. I used to love steak and kidney pie and I didn't mind liver and bacon (though havent had them for years) they are supposed to be very GOOD FOR YOU :) and so perhaps I will revive it in my life. I don't like eating tubes and gristle though. There is some Easter thing they eat in Greece full of little tubes that I can do without.
    And - great music!

  16. I have never liked offal, but you make it sound so appetising.
    Who knows, someday my palate may change!
    Many thanks for giving me a new perspective!

  17. You certainly make offal sound.. not awful. ;) It looks quite yummy, actually.

  18. Many thanks for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.



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