The process of pan-frying and deep-frying cooks food aggressively in excess of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, exactly what organ meats such as chicken hearts require. Chicken hearts respond best to quick, dry-heat cooking methods such as frying, as the protein fibers don't have time to constrict and toughen any more than they already are. The leanness of chicken hearts makes them naturally tough, but you can remedy that by slicing them thinly and marinating them overnight. If you keep the cooking time under three or four minutes, they develop a tenderness that rivals chicken liver.
Things You'll Need
- Acidic marinade or buttermilk
- Vegetable oil
- Heavy-bottomed frying pan
- Digital instant-read thermometer
Trim the fat and connective tissue from the outside of the chicken hearts. Slice the hearts into 1/2-inch strips and prick out any veins, using the tip of the knife.
Marinate the hearts overnight in an oil-acid marinade or buttermilk. For an oil marinade, combine equal parts olive oil and food acid such as lemon juice or soy sauce. Add flavoring ingredients and spices to taste. Alternatively, for a buttermilk marinade, combine cold, cultured buttermilk with spices such as garlic, chili peppers or shallots to taste.
Take the hearts out of the marinade about 20 minutes before you plan to cook them. Pat them with a paper towel to absorb excess marinade. Season the hearts with salt, if you didn't use a salty marinade.
Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add the hearts to the oil when it starts to shimmer. Add diced garlic and chopped onions to the oil when you add the hearts, if desired.
Fry the hearts for about 45 seconds to 1 minute and then turn them over, using tongs. Fry the hearts for another 30 to 45 seconds, or until they reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the hearts to a plate lined with paper towels.
Turn off the heat. Spoon the aromatics from the oil and drain them on a paper towel. Serve the hearts with the fried aromatics spooned on top of them.
Fill a dish with all-purpose flour. Fill another dish with breadcrumbs. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl for every pound of whole chicken hearts.
Heat 2 inches of frying oil in a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove using medium heat. Check the temperature of the oil after a few minutes, using an instant-read thermometer. Adjust the stove to maintain a temperature of 350 to 375 degrees F.
Dredge the hearts in flour. Dip them into the beaten egg and then lay them in the breadcrumbs. Coat the chicken hearts in breadcrumbs on all sides. Carefully put the chicken hearts into the oil.
Deep-fry the hearts for about 1 1/2 minutes and then turn them over, using tongs or a slotted spoon. Fry an additional 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels.
Blot the oil from the hearts and serve immediately with marinara, teriyaki or your favorite dipping sauce.
Tips & Warnings
- Diced alliums such as garlic and onion fry up crispy and go well with heart.
- Although the hearts are small, you can insert the tip of a digital instant-read thermometer into them to get an accurate temperature reading.
- Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images