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When it comes to Valentine’s Day dining, heart-shaped eats get plenty of love. Heart-shaped chocolate. Heart-shaped pizza. Heart-shaped meatloaf. The beat goes on. Yet dishes prepared with actual heart don’t exactly garner affection. While chowing down on heart may sound strange and utterly unromantic, it’s essentially the same as any other animal muscle—meaty and packed with plenty of protein. Heart can be served raw, grilled, cured, or deviled—plus it’s inexpensive (though don’t let your significant other know that).

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Below, you’ll find some recipes for February 14 (or any other day, for that matter), which show off the versatility of heart sourced from flock, fowl, and herd, as well as a couple of veggie-based options for the non-meat eaters, and, well, faint of heart.

Related Reading: Slip Some Smoked Pastrami Beef Tongue Onto Your Plate

Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Golden Beets and Horseradish

Cooking Channel TV

Chef Chris Cosentino is a wizard when it comes to making unconventional cuts of meat shine and his heart-beet combo is the perfect gateway for offal newbies. The whole grilled beef heart gets an extra burst of flavor from a two-hour marinade which is highlighted by a sweet acidic hit of white wine and orange juice. The accompanying roasted beet salad provides a nice contrast of sweetness as well as some heat courtesy of a horseradish vinaigrette. Get the Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Golden Beets and Horseradish recipe.

Heart Tartare, Puttanesca-Style

The Daily Meal

Chef Consentino goes cold-hearted with this gorgeous tartare. Diced raw kip (a.k.a. veal) heart receives the puttanesca treatment, tossed with the classic combination of tomatoes, capers, and olives. Cosentino doubles down on his Italian inspiration with the addition of homemade focaccia crackers. Get the Puttanesca-Style Heart Tartare recipe.

Chicken Heart Yakitori

Jess Pryles

Japanese chicken yakitori specialists are known to use every part of the bird including the small intestine and uterus, which makes skewering some heart seem tame in comparison. The meat is grilled and basted with a mixture of teriyaki and ginger, adding a touch of sweetness and warmth to the juicy, flame-kissed heart. Get the Chicken Heart Yakitori recipe.

Beef Heart Anticuchos

Peru Delights

Meat skewers, or anticuchos, are a staple in Peru and beef heart is among the most popular options. This traditional recipe uses a marinade highlighted by aji panca, a Peruvian red pepper that provides an extra layer of smokiness to the grilled heart. The skewers are served with a simple side duo of boiled potatoes and corn as well as some aji sauce for added spice enhancement. Get the Beef Heart Anticuchos recipe.

Deviled Duck Hearts

Honest Food

If you’re the type of person who is terrified by hearts (perhaps you’ve seen “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” one too many times), invoking Satan probably won’t make them more palatable. But in the interest of good eating, it would be advised to face your fears and give these sinfully good, spicy, pan-fried whole duck hearts a try. Deviled eggs may be all the rage right now, but deviled duck hearts just might be even more addictive. Get the Deviled Duck Hearts recipe.

Cured Beef Heart

Great British Chefs

Here we have the “Trout Mask Replica” of beef heart offerings—bizarre yet ultimately satisfying. The heart is brined and then cured using a sourdough starter, transforming the muscle into an umami bomb suitable for grating over pasta and eggs. Get the Cured Beef Heart recipe.

Bourbon-Cream Turkey Gravy

Chowhound

The bag of heart, liver, and gizzard that comes with your turkey isn’t just for show. Those flavored-filled morsels otherwise known as giblets are essential for preparing a knockout gravy. This recipe also incorporates bourbon and cream to add to the wow factor.  You’ll never go back to that blech powder and water mix. Get our Bourbon-Cream Turkey Gravy recipe.

Breaded Artichoke Hearts

Christina’s Cucina

This simple preparation of a popular Italian treat wisely takes advantage of jarred artichoke hearts—peeling them by hand ain’t worth the hassle. Just dip the hearts in flour, egg, and seasoned bread crumbs, then fry. Badda bing, badda boom, you got yourself a hearty app or side. Get the Breaded Artichoke Hearts recipe.  

Hearts of Palm Ceviche

Carrots & Flowers

Hearts of palm prove to be a worthy substitution for seafood in this vegan take on ceviche. Accompanied by an assortment of chopped vegetables and a healthy dose of fresh lime juice, the mild tree-based hearts soak in all that bright, citrusy, and spicy goodness. Tear open a bag of tortilla chips and dig in. Get the Hearts of Palm Ceviche recipe.

Get more traditional recipes, tips, and tricks at our Valentine’s Day headquarters, including great Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

Related Video: How to Make a Valentine’s Day Cocktail with Kombucha

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David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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