Icelanders are known for their resourcefulness when it comes to available foodstuffs; a trait borne from times when not wasting anything was a matter of survival. A prime example of this would be the infamous Icelandic svið (singed sheep face), but less known are lamb hearts.
Lamb hearts are sold seasonally, in packs of four, and are usually dirt cheap, with over a kilo of meat amounting to little more than a few hundred krónur. But wait, you say, it’s still lamb meat; why is it so much cheaper?
Well for one, it is surprisingly easy to overcook hearts. As the hardest-working muscle in any mammal, hearts are going to be tough and chewy, even when cooked properly. They are also surprisingly fatty, which is definitely not in fashion these days. Moreover, lamb hearts are traditionally associated with poverty and hardship. For many Icelanders, it is shameful to buy them. Putting lamb hearts in your shopping cart is tantamount to announcing to everyone that you are poor.
All that said, lamb hearts are an affordable alternative to steaks for those who still want red meat in their diet, and they tend to go well with red wine sauce. Just be sure not to cook them too long, and ignore the stares in the check-out line.
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