Valentine's Day Heart Chili

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So Valentine's Day is here. Another one of Hallmark's many opportunities to cash in on life's simple, human emotions. But even counterculturists like us need to get all cutesy with our special friends sometimes. And we want to do it in a way that isn't totally cliche. Plus, it's hardly a loving gesture to buy my girlfriend chocolates when I buy myself chocolate at least once a week.

I want to offer her something she won't find on sale February 15. Something a little more personal. Something from the heart…

That's it! Heart! <3 <3 <3 !

Organ meats are so much more nutrient dense than muscle meats, but contrary to popular foodie belief, the heart is still a muscle. That's not to say it isn't heartier than ground beef, it's just not as nourishing as the sacred liver.

Being a muscle meat makes it much easier to sneak into a big bowl of chili than trying to disguise the strong flavor of an organ though. Heart contains high levels of the antioxidant CoQ10, which is good for our hearts, improves lifespan and reduces the damage caused by radiation. It also has a higher protein content and is an excellent source of thiamin, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc and several B vitamins. So this Valentine's Day, light a few candles, get a box of wine and sit down to some romantic chili.

1 lb. beef heart
2 lbs. ground beef
1 can tomato paste
juice of 1 lemon
chili powder, plus whatever spices you like in your chili, such as cumin, cayenne and paprika
cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Trim the tough meat from the sides of the heart and save it for your puppy dog. If you have to buy the whole heart, it's going to be a lot more than one pound, so put the rest in the freezer. Cut the heart into cubes, wash it in cold water and soak it in lemon juice and cold water for about an hour. Veterans of offal can skip this step, soaking in lemon juice removes any of the unfamiliar heart flavor that could result in a disappointed valentine.

Caramelize the onion and garlic. Drain the water from the heart and pat dry. Add cubed heart, ground beef and a couple pinches of salt and cook until meat is brown. Stir in tomato paste and spices. In most cases I try to keep spices to a minimum, but if you're trying to hide the fact that there's a heart in your pot of chili, a little extra spice doesn't hurt. Spoon into bowls and add grated cheese, avocado slices and fancy assed gold silverware and enjoy. And don't forget to fall in love. <3