Diego’s Hearts

  I had a guest around for a pre-Christmas dinner. He’s from Brazil and I had been out with him for dinner previously at one of those infamous Brazilian steak houses where he had asked for chicken hearts (a common grilled meat in Brazil). Unfortunately the restaurant was out of them at the time, so when he came for dinner I decided to serve a chicken heart appetizer (along with lamb chops). Shooting from the hip I came up with what turned out to be a tasty and inexpensive appy. 

At the end of the meal he asked what the dish was called. Since I had created it from scratch, I told him it had no name. His response was swift, “I’ll give it a name! A Diego!” Well I couldn’t argue, so I present you with Diego’s Hearts. 

  • Diego’s Hearts (appetizer)
  • Pan seared lamb chops
  • Sauce Romaine
  • Roasted yellow mini potatoes
  • Steamed carrots

Recipe Diago’s Hearts:

  • 1 lb Chicken hearts (trimmed and rinsed)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt 
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tsp dried herbs du Provence ( or basil, oregano, etc.)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs butter or olive oil (for sautéing hearts) 
  • 1 cup Vegetable broth
  • 4-5 Brown mushrooms finely diced
  • 1 Tbs Salted butter (for sautéing mushrooms)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1 medium Spanish onion thinly sliced and separated 
  • 2 Tbs Salted butter (for caramelizing onions)
  • 2-3 tsp Fine white sugar
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 8 Thin slices french baguette cut on the bias, toasted, and lightly buttered
  • 1 Tbs Italian parsley chopped finely
  • Crumbled Chèvre or shaved hard cheese (optional)


  1. Combine the hearts and next five ingredients and marinate for 1-3 hours at room temperature. 
  2. Create a mushroom cream sauce by sautéing the mushrooms in butter until well softened and then adding stock and cream. Simmer over low heat until slightly thickened. Keep warm. 
  3. Caramelize the onions in butter with the sugar, finishing with a small splash of balsamic. Keep warm in the oven in a heat proof dish. 
  4. Drain the and dry the hearts discarding the marinade and sauté in 1 Tbs olive oil or butter  over medium to high heat until just cooked 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Toast the baguette slices, butter and arrange 2 slices side by side on a small plate for each portion. 
  6. Top each portion of toast with a “nest” of caramelized onions. 
  7. Add the sautéed hearts into the nest of onions. 
  8. Drizzle 2-3 Tbs of the mushroom cream sauce across the stacked dish and finish with a light topping of parsley, fresh ground black pepper and optionally crumbled Chèvre or hard cheese shavings. 
  9. Serve hot. 


Timing is the trick with this dish as all the elements need to be warm or hot. 

Serves 4.

The cheese topping is optional. I forgot to add it in my flurry of cooking, but I think it would have been a nice touch. 




Curry in a Hurry (sort of)


Another day, another weekday meal.

Thursday’s are family split days. My wife heads off to yoga, while my daughter heads off to art class. I’m usually forced to make at least two separate meals–one before 6:00 pm when my daughter leaves and one after 7:00 pm when my wife returns. Keeping with the family tradition of always eating with at least one other family member, I usually prepare the kids an early meal and my wife and I a late one.

After a quick kids’ meal (today’s was fried ramen), I put on a pot of rice and dropped my daughter off at class. After returning home, I poured myself a drink and set to making a curry. I had chicken backs in the refrigerator,  so I went with that as the base.

Recipe: Andhra Pradesh Chicken

Spice Blend:

  • 2 tsp Amchur powder
  • 2 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 2 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp Hot Indian paprika (or 1/2 to 1 Tsp dried chilies ground)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg, ground
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 Tsp Tumeric, ground


  • 3 heaping tsp spice blend
  • 1 Tbs Light cooking oil
  • 1 tsp White vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbs Sambal oelek


  • 4 Medium to large pieces of chicken, skinless bone in
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1″ pc Ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3-4 Tbs light cooking oil (canola)
  • 10 Kari (curry) leaves
  • 2 Medium onions chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 c of finely chopped red bell peppers (or other vegetables)
  • 1-2 Tbs Sambal oelek (optional)
  • 1 15oz Can of diced tomatoes (or 2 lg tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 c Chicken stock
  • Water
  • 2 Black cardomen pods, lightly crushed
  • 1/2-1 tsp Black pepper, fresh coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp Black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • Balance of spice blend


  1. Prepare spice blend
  2. If using skin-on chicken remove skin and reserve
  3. Mix Marinade ingredients in a small bowl
  4. Combine chicken and marinade in a plastic bag, remove excess air and work the bag to distribute marinade evenly over the chicken and marinate for 1-4 hours
  5. Remove chicken from bag and grill or BBQ over medium heat until fully cooked (I usually do 10 min. bone side down, 10 min. meat side down and if necessary 5 min bone side down)
  6. While chicken is cooking start the sauce
  7. In a wok over a medium-high element heat oil
  8. Add kari leaves, cumin seed, and mustard seed and saute until the begin to crackle (a minute or two)
  9. Add onions and saute until just beginning to brown
  10. Add garlic and finely chopped bell peppers if using and saute one to two minutes more
  11. Add remaining spice blend, grated ginger, sambal, and cardamon pods and stir for one to two minutes until well combined
  12. Add tomatoes and combine
  13. Add a little water and a 1/4 c of the stock and bring to a low boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes adjusting heat as required
  14. Add stock as required during cooking process to keep the sauce consistent
  15. Taste and adjust salt level and acid balance if required (use a very small amount of brown sugar if the sauce is too sour)
  16. Add grilled chicken to the wok, coat it in the sauce, and add fresh ground black pepper
  17. simmer for five minutes, and serve

Notes: I’ve modified this recipe so much from its original form it bears only a passing resemblance to it–originally it called for cooking the chicken in the sauce and adding much more water to it, but I found the recipe above makes for a much more flavourful and richer curry. The above recipe calls for a long marinating time, but mine only sat in the bag for only 20 minutes while I prepared the vegetables–just do your best. I don’t mention it under the methods section, but if you have reserved chicken skin you can add one or two pieces to the sauce during the cooking process to add some depth–just remove it before serving. If you want to drop the heat level, reduce the amount of sambal and/or substitute Spanish or Hungarian paprika for the Indian Paprika (which is very hot). I would still add a 1/2 teaspoon or so of the ground chilies, as the flavour is essential for this dish. Keep in mind that the spice blend shown is more or less a personal preference. You can use garam masala in place of the cinnamon, nutmeg, amchur powder and some of the ground cumin and coriander if that’s your preference as well–I don’t because I find the cloves used in most garam masala to be too much for the chicken.

Tip: Always add fresh ground black pepper to a dish in the last ten minutes or less of cooking to preserve its delicate fresh flavour.

This dish serves four. Pair with a dry Belgium style blond ale (i.e. Fin-de-Monde) or a crisp spicy Indian lager (i.e. Kingfisher).

Adapted from Das Sreedharan, Indian Shortcuts to Success, “Marinated chicken with hot pepper sauce,” pp. 128-129, 2005.