A simple and delicious way to serve meaty, iron-rich hearts... Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts With Citrus Marinade soaks in Mexican spices and orange, lime, and lemon juices, and spends only a few minutes on the grill!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Cooking with Offal!
I am guessing this recipe is a "hard sell." Am I right? When I googled "grilled chicken hearts," I was a little surprised at the low number of hits. I felt conflicted. On the one hand, what is the point of a food blogger churning out recipes that everyone else is doing? On the other hand, maybe my readers won't make it past the title of the recipe... What is your reaction?
I grew up thinking organ meats (offal) are perfectly delicious and cheap proteins. My Dad was a graduate student until I was 7, and we were poor. Both of my parents cooked, we didn't waste food, and we didn't turn up our noses at less-common or desirable animal parts.
So, I have been eating food like this all of my 57 years. Last year, I posted recipes for beef tongue (lengua) - Provençal Beef Tongue Sandwiches and Lengua Tacos With Salsa Verde and Caramelized Onions. I have to admit, they never really took off! Here I am with another risky recipe... My son suggested I call it "Eat Your Heart Out," and I had planned to post it on Valentine's Day. I chickened out. Pardon my pun.😂
🐓About Chicken Hearts
First, let me tell you a little bit about chicken hearts. Given that the heart is a hard working muscle, they have a firm texture, and a flavor that is a bit like chicken thigh. They do NOT taste like liver. 😆
Are Chicken Hearts Healthy?
They are nutrient dense, and loaded with protein, B vitamins (especially B 12), zinc, iron, folate... A 4 ounce serving provides 20 grams of proteins and 126 calories. And, they are cheap! Keep in mind, they do contain a relatively high amount of saturated fat.
I prefer the all natural chicken hearts that eat a natural diet to their factory/farm raised counterparts that have probably been fed antibiotics. The choice is yours to make.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- 1 orange
- 1 lime
- 1 lemon
- olive oil
- mild vinegar, I love Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
- chipotle powder
- chicken hearts
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- Marinate the chicken hearts - Combine marinade ingredients in a zip bag. Trim any membrane or fat from the chicken hearts. Add them to the marinade. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour to overnight.
- Prepare the skewers - Drain the chicken hearts, and make sure to reserve the marinade for sauce. Place on skewers. Heat the grill to medium high.
- Make the sauce - Add the reserved marinade to a small sauce pan with chicken broth, agave nectar, and mild vinegar. Boil vigorously to reduce by about half. Taste for seasoning, and keep warm until serving chicken hearts.
- Grill the skewers - Grill 3-4 minutes per side. Overcooked hearts will be chewy. Garnish with fresh cilantro and additional citrus. Serve with dipping sauce. Enjoy!
💭 Tips and FAQ
What kind of citrus should I use? Here in the Rio Grande Valley, we enjoy an abundance of citrus this time of year. I enjoy playing with Mexican flavors, and combining them in new ways. Any combination of citrus will work well in this recipe. I've been using blood orange, lime, and lemon. We also have tangerines, pummelo, grapefruit, meyer lemon, etc.
How much juice should I use? You want about 1 cup of juice +/-. The zest intensifies the flavor, so I use that as well.
What can I substitute for ground chipotle powder? Chipotle powder is part of my well-stocked pantry, and its smokiness adds complexity to the marinade. You can also use New Mexico red chile or ancho chile powder. I don't recommend generic "chili powder" as it's a spice blend that includes many ingredients.
Are the chicken hearts good leftover? I don't think so. The flavors get pretty strong, and reheating them may make them rubbery!
If you have a helper to watch the grill, make a dipping sauce with the remaining marinade while the skewers on the grill.
🍷 Pairing Suggestions
Serve the grilled chicken hearts with Mexican Cilantro Rice, Mexican Cauliflower Rice, or Red Rice, a side salad, and a cold beer. A citrus IPA like Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin IPA would be an outstanding choice.
I do hope you will take a risk and give this recipe a try... If you do, let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of the post!
Chicken Hearts and Marinade
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon mild vinegar, I love Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder
- 2 pounds chicken hearts
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- strained marinade
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons mild vinegar, (see notes)
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- citrus wedges
- Combine marinade ingredients in a zip bag.
- Trim any membrane or fat from the chicken hearts. Add them to the marinade. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour to overnight.
- Drain the chicken hearts, reserving marinade. Place on skewers. Heat the grill to medium high.
- Strain the marinade, and add to a small sauce pan with chicken broth, agave nectar, and mild vinegar. Boil vigorously to reduce by about half.
- Taste for seasoning, and keep warm until serving chicken hearts.
- Grill 3-4 minutes per side. Overcooked hearts will be chewy. Garnish with fresh cilantro and additional citrus. Serve with dipping sauce. Enjoy!
Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts With Citrus Marinade makes a great appetizer - if your guests are adventuresome. 😀 Simply reduce the portion size.
The chicken hearts pair well with my Mexican Cilantro Rice. A fruit or green salad makes a complete meal.
Macronutrients (estimate from MyFitnessPal): 179 calories; 27 g protein; 6 g carbohydrates; 6 g fats
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 27g