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Braised hearts with creamed leeks and wild garlic

Serves 4

This is based on a favourite childhood recipe of mine – my gran used to make these delicious braised hearts with a parsley and thyme breadcrumb stuffing. As I remember, much of her cooking was based around cheap, tasty cuts such as lambs' livers and beef brisket.

But her stuffed lambs' hearts used to be a weekly feature on our dinner menu, and I remember always looking forward to eating them – although I hadn't come across wild garlic at that point.

8 lambs' hearts, trimmed
Flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for frying
8 cocktail sticks
2 medium leeks
A small handful of wild garlic
200ml double cream
A good pinch of salt

For the sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped
A good knob of butter
1tbsp plain flour
tsp tomato purée
200ml beer
400ml beef stock
1 bay leaf

For the stuffing

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1tsp fresh thyme leaves
A good knob of butter
60g fresh white breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4. First make the sauce. Melt the butter in a pan; gently cook the onion for 2-3 minutes until lightly coloured. Add the flour and tomato purée and stir well over a low heat for a minute. Gradually add the beer, stirring to avoid lumps forming, and gradually add the beef stock. Bring to the boil, add the bay leaf and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Gently cook the onion and thyme in the butter for a minute to soften them, then stir in the breadcrumbs and season. Insert the point of a small knife into the cavity of the heart and remove any sinews, allowing room in the cavity for the stuffing. Force as much stuffing into the cavity as possible and secure with a cocktail stick. Season and lightly flour the hearts. Heat a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in a frying pan and lightly brown the hearts, turning them so that they are evenly coloured. Put the hearts into a casserole with a lid; cook in the oven for about an hour and a half, turning every so often.

Meanwhile, cook the leeks in boiling salted water for 10 minutes, or until tender; remove from the water; leave to cool. Once cool, cut into half-cm slices and place in a pan with the wild garlic and cream, season and simmer until the cream has reduced and is just coating the leeks. Spoon the leeks on to warmed plates, place the hearts on top and spoon over the sauce.