Herb Marinated Grilled Deer Heart
It is no secret that the heart of a whitetail deer is my favorite thing to eat. I love them so much that I have asked all my friends to save the hearts of their deer for me. At any given time there are probably half a dozen hearts in my freezer. I have prepared deer heart so many different ways that I can’t even keep count any longer.
Over the years I have tried prepping the heart in different ways and have seen a number of tutorials on how to prep the heart. There is an old saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and the same is true with hearts. My way is not the best way it is just my preferred method. When I’m done with the heart I have three nice looking pieces of meet that resemble small steaks and are appealing to even the most squeamish of eaters.
Preparation of the Deer Heart
The top of the heart is full of arteries and valves and fat. It is unattractive and very tough to eat so I start by cutting the top off. You can throw that part out or use it anyway you want to. If you find a good use for it let me know. Looking at the top of the heart you can see two chambers.
One of the chambers has thicker walls than the other. We can remove the thinner chamber using a knife. Follow the inside of the chamber all the way around, removing the outer piece of the heart.
You can then cut the remaining chamber in half. Those pieces can then be laid flat and you can see inside the heart chambers. There are small connective tissues know as Purkinje fibers that help expand and contract the heart. You can remove those with a fillet knife. On the outside of the heart there is still some white fat. Trim that off as well for a better presentation.
Cooking The Deer Heart
What you will end up with is three nice looking heart steaks. These can then be cut into strips and fried or seared in a hot pan or minced to make tartare. There are endless possibilities. I would recommend that what ever way you choose to prepare it, the best results will come from high heat for a very short period of time. The heart muscle is very dense and gets tough and chewy when it is over cooked. For this reason I would also suggest not going past medium rare.
When ever I meet a chef or wild game enthusiast I always ask how they would prepare a deer heart. I am always looking for new ways to prepare it. Last November I got to meet Sean Brock. He was on a book tour promoting his new book titled South.1 He gave a talk and afterwards I got a moment to speak with him and fan boy out for a minute. I asked him how he would prepare it and he pointed to one of his recipes for preparing lamb hearts. I modified it just a little and this is what I came up with.
Grilled Deer Heart Recipe
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon black Pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle the salt on the heart steaks and let rest for 30 minutes. Combine the remaining ingredients and marinate the heart for another 30 minutes to an hour. while you are waiting for the heart to marinate prepare your grill and get the grates hot. when you cook the heart you are looking at about one minute per side. the heart will cook very quickly and it doesn’t take much to over cook it and end up with a tough and chewy piece of meat. When you pull the heart off the grill let it rest for a couple of minutes before slicing into it.
Serve the heart will a salad or on toast points with a little horseradish. Or, get creative with other flavors you like. I prepared mine with a butter bean puree and some nettle chimichurri sauce.
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