One of my adult relatives who shall remain nameless has SES (Squeamish Eater Syndrome). I love her in spite of her affliction. As a mother, I’m familiar with squeamish eaters. Out of my three kids, only one was a real squeamer, Joanna. The list of foods that could bring on her gagging reflex was endless. The best way to get the gaggers into her, with their valuable vitamins and nutrients, was to buy a food processor and purée the identity out of them. Most children are not as bad as Joanna was and I’m pleased to report that as an adult, she has made friends with many of her childhood food enemies.
As adults, most of us have a fairly tolerant palate, but there is a line that is drawn somewhere right around giblets. That’s probably why we call them giblets and not vital chicken organs, and why we call squid, calamari, and calves, veal.
I think the reason American restaurants list snails on the appetizer fare as “Escargot” is because they know that if their menus read “SNAILS,” they’d have zero takers. While this goes on in the States, the reverse is probably happening in France. “SNAILS” or even “SLUGS WITH A SHELL” are probably touted in the poshest, candlelit establishments, luring French–born, non-English-speaking diners into orders that would never happen if the menus read “ESCARGOT.”
On a personal note, I have learned in feeding the squeamish that they’ll eat and enjoy many foods as long as they don’t know what they’re eating, including my relative.
Since I’m on a low-carb, high protein and fat diet these days and my low-carb doctor has recommended eating organ meats, I dug into my recipe collection and found this note: “Not very popular, even with the most daredevilsh eaters, because a plate of chicken hearts, no matter how delicious, looks more like a serving of marinated rabbit droppings.” I remembered while wrapping up yummy leftover coronary organs after several parties, I’d thought up the idea of hiding the delicious little delicacies in a tasty mushroom camouflage.
After taking a tray of these extraordinary appetizers to a party or serving them in your own home, you’ll be bombarded with praise—unless of course your guests don’t like mushrooms.
Mushrooms with a Heart
36 large mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
½ cup white wine
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
36 chicken hearts (3/4 pound to 1 pound)
½ teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Juice of 1 clove of garlic pressed in garlic press
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
6 ounces Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1. Wash the mushrooms and pop out the stems. Set both aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil, vinegar, white wine, and onions over medium heat, mixing thoroughly. Add the chicken hearts, mushrooms, and stems. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon. Continue cooking the chicken hearts and stems for another 20 minutes, or until hearts are tender. Remove chicken hearts with the slotted spoon. Cool.
4. Pour leftover contents of skillet into a food processor and puree. Pour mixture into a small bowl with the seasoned salt, garlic, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese.
5. Stuff a heart in each mushroom cavity and hide each one with the cheese topping. Just before serving, place under the broiler until the topping bubbles and browns slightly.
I don’t usually share recipes in my Young@Heart essays, but remembering and looking up this sneaky recipe made me want to share it with you.