A perfect balance of spice and sweetness, this dish is a great way to be sustainable and use not-so-popular cuts of beef. It was one of the most popular items on my restaurant menu! Beef heart is lean and iron-rich, a great protein source.
a deep-fryer or deep-fry thermometer; a meat grinder; a 1.25-ounce portion scoop
For the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 2 baking sheets with oil. Preheat a fryer or 3 inches oil to 300 degrees F.
Double grind the heart, pork and fatback into a bowl set on top of an ice bath to ensure that the meat is cold throughout the meatball making process. Add the eggs, panko, chopped cilantro, garlic, kosher salt, cumin, ginger, smoked paprika, turmeric, cayenne and black pepper to taste. Portion the meatballs with a 1.25-ounce portion scoop, then smooth the meatballs out by tossing them between greased hands, creating a smooth round shape. Place on the greased baking sheets and bake for approximately 8 minutes.
For the piri piri sauce: Pulse the chiles, garlic, peppers and onion in a food processor and set aside. In a heavy-bottom saucepot, heat the oil over medium-heat high. Add the tomato paste, stirring continuously to cook, about 1 minute. (The oil should turn a beautiful orange color.) Add the processed ingredients plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Cook down over medium heat until completely softened and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the honey, cumin seeds and paprika and turn to medium heat; let cook another 6 to 8 minutes. Add the vinegar and remaining tablespoon kosher salt, then cook for about 15 minutes. Finish the sauce with the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Toss the meatballs and sauce together, then let simmer a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
Meanwhile, toss the plantains into the fryer, and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and dust with fine salt.
Pile the meatballs in the center of a plate. Garnish with the plantain chips, cilantro sprigs and a touch of lime zest.