Chicken hearts

Chicken hearts

A Year of Practiculture
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

I keep chickens primarily for egg production and as a waste-disposal service. The chooks are happy and well fed. We’re supplied with plenty of eggs and our kitchen and garden scraps are converted into chicken poo, which is seasoned and eventually returns to the garden as fertiliser.

Each spring new chicks hatch, and the inevitable result is that half of these are male. Boy chickens are really lame at laying eggs, so we let them get bigger for half a year (or so) and then we eat them, a system that’s been in place on farms and in backyards for centuries. At our place, we can’t afford to let a single animal go to waste, so we let them mature then we use the meat. Might sound rough, but I think it’s a better deal than being able to live for just a few short days in a shed.

On the day I butcher the birds I cook this meal. I’ve been cooking it for a while now, and I guess it’s a way to use more of the bird than just its meat, livers and bones for stock. A lovely American lady called Trish introduced me to the idea of cooking chicken hearts when I ran a workshop. She told me they were a delicacy, and proceeded to show me the basics of how to cook them. Trish poached the hearts then pan-fried them in butter with salt and pepper. They were amazing.

I still use the same process to soften the hearts in boiling water, but now I add some naughty stuff to the frying pan.

You need to boil them first to soften them, because the heart is a hardworking muscle. Then it’s just a matter of frying them until you’re hungry enough to eat them. Don’t be squeamish. They taste nice, trust me. And if you’ve just taken the bird’s life, try to use as much of it as possible.


Quantity Ingredient
6-8 chicken hearts
50g butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
pedro ximenez
pinch chilli powder
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
parsley, to garnish
mascarpone, to serve


  1. Poach the hearts in water for 20–30 minutes.
  2. Once they’re done, melt the butter with a glug of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Pan-fry the hearts until they start to colour, then splash over some sherry, watching out for flames. Sprinkle in the chilli powder and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Garnish with parsley and serve with a good dollop of mascarpone.
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