Do not let this tasty cut of meat go to waste in the gut pile
Many hunters brag about the heart shot, but hitting a deer behind the shoulder and puncturing the lungs kills just as quickly, and saves one of the best, but more underutilized, cuts for the pan.
Just like the roasts from a hindquarter, or the loin, the heart is muscle. It does require a little extra care, but its rich flavor, and versatility in the kitchen, leaves no good reason to throw it away with the rest the gut pile.
Rinse and Purge
The heart will probably still have blood inside it, which needs to be rinsed purged. Do this by squeezing the heart while running fresh, clean water into the large holes at the top of the heart. If you remember anything from biology class, one of these is the superior vena cava and the other is the opening of the aorta. As the water goes through the heart, it should run from blood red to clear. Soaking the heart in a saltwater brine overnight can also remove some of the iron-like taste.
There are several tubes that come out of the top of the heart. These are the valves, veins and arteries, and they should all be trimmed away using a sharp knife. Same goes for the hard, white fat often found ringing the top of the heart. Some of this will melt away during the cook process, so you do not need to remove it all. Next, make a long, clean cut lengthwise in a line between the two largest holes, opening up the heart like a book. This will reveal more web-like connective tissues that can now be cut away and removed.
Cooked Three Ways
Roast - A long, slow roast is a great way to enjoy deer heart. Once trimmed and opened, fill the heart with apple chunks, diced onion and garlic or a classic bread stuffing. Close the heart around the stuffing and truss with butcher twine. Bake, covered, with just a bit of broth, until cooked through.
Steak - Sliced into steaks and grilled to medium or medium rare might be the finest way to enjoy deer heart, but you can also pound the steaks into thin cutlets, bread them and fry in the form of a schnitzel or country-fried steak.
On a Stick - In Peru, they call it anticuchos de carazon - heart on a stick, and it is delicious. Peruvians used a spicy, yellow-pepper sauce as a marinade and baste for small chunks of heart threaded onto wooden skewers and grilled over open flame, but you can experiment with everything from an Asian-inspired glaze to classic barbeque sauce. Just do not overcook them. Instead aim for nothing more then medium.
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