Skewered and grilled chicken hearts are a Brazilian barbecue staple, and for good reason. They are cheap, delicious, and easy to make; not only that, they are perfectly bite-sized! Chicken hearts are not quite as popular in the US, but they are still easy enough to find at the supermarket. Surprise the guests at your next get-together with these tasty chicken heart kabobs and a few of our other go-to Brazilian cookout recipes.
What Do Chicken Hearts Taste Like?
Chicken hearts taste much like dark meat, but with a slightly metallic, gamey flavor. They have a satisfying, chewy texture when grilled. The taste is noticeable but not overpowering. This makes chicken hearts highly customizable; the bite-sized morsels lend themselves to all sorts of marinades and seasonings. That being said, Brazilians tend to favor simplicity when it comes to their churrasco: rock salt and nothing more is the preferred seasoning for grilled chicken hearts and other barbecued meats.
Are Chicken Hearts Good for You?
Yes! Chicken hearts are high in protein and chock full of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, folate, and B6. A single 3.5 oz serving also contains more than 300% of your daily vitamin B12!
Like other organ meats, chicken hearts do contain higher levels of cholesterol. However, research has not shown any appreciable link to dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels. You may wish to avoid them anyway if you are concerned about your cholesterol, or you can consult with your healthcare provider.
Likewise, if you have gout, it is not recommended to consume chicken hearts. Organ meats are high in a compound called “purines.” When the body breaks down purines, uric acid levels in the body are increased, which can cause or worsen gout.
Overall, however, chicken hearts are highly nutritious. Not only are they good for you, they are good for the environment! Consuming all parts of an animal reduces food waste, which is an important step in the fight against climate change.
How to Prepare Chicken Hearts
You can cook chicken hearts a number of ways, including pan frying, stewing, and braising; but our favorite method is skewered and over the grill.
You can find chicken hearts in most grocery stores in the butcher section. If you don’t see them in the case, ask the butcher if they have any available. In some cases, they keep them in the back for on-demand orders.
Chicken hearts don’t need much prep, but you may want to trim them a little if you notice any extra fat or blood vessels (don’t be too squeamish!). Season your chicken hearts all over with rock salt or kosher salt (about 2 tsp of salt per pound of hearts will do).
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Make sure it is very clean and run a paper towel soaked with vegetable oil over the grates so the hearts don’t stick.
Skewer your chicken hearts on wooden, bamboo, or metal skewers. If you are using wooden or bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them beforehand to avoid burning.
When the grill is hot, place the chicken hearts over the direct heat and cook them for about ten minutes, flipping them halfway. Then move the skewers to indirect heat and continue cooking for another fifteen minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your chicken hearts and the type of grill you are using. Check frequently for doneness to avoid overcooking the hearts. We want a chewy texture, but overdone chicken hearts will progress to a decidedly unpleasant rubbery texture (nada de bom!).
What to Eat With Grilled Chicken Hearts
Chicken hearts make an excellent appetizer. They also pair nicely with grilled vegetables, fluffy rice, or your favorite maionese.