1 pkg. bamboo skewers
1 handful hickory or applewood chips
¼ cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns, toasted
2 bay leaves
1 lb. chicken hearts, trimmed*
• Soak the skewers in a tray filled with water. In another container, soak the wood chips at least 1 hour.
• In a 32-ounce measuring container, dissolve the salt in 2 cups hot water with the peppercorns and bay leaves, then add enough ice to bring the total volume to 1 quart. Let sit until the brine is cold to the touch. Add the chicken hearts and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
• Strain the hearts and discard the brine. Pat the hearts dry with a paper towel and return them to the refrigerator, uncovered, to dry.
• Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal grill** for low, direct heat. Once all the coals are lit, spread them in the grill and cover them directly with the drained wood chips. Cover the grill and open the dampers halfway. Wait 5 minutes for the fire to cool to 250 degrees, closing the dampers more if the fire is still too hot.
• Thread 3 hearts on each skewer, leaving a little room between each. Place skewers on the grate and cover. Smoke 20 to 30 minutes, flipping as needed, until the hearts are cooked and have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. To enhance the smoky flavor, allow hearts to rest 20 minutes.
• Serve the hearts on skewers; add to a salad; or chop and toss with minced onion, olive oil, parsley and a splash of vinegar and use as a topping for grilled bread.
* Available at Jay International Food Co., 3172 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.772.9393
** If using a gas grill, heat to 250 degrees and place wood chips on a smoker tray.