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Easy Pan Fried Deer Heart Recipe

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This easy pan fried deer heart recipe makes delicious use of very underutilized meat from your harvest. Flavorful, easy to prepare, and great use of tasty meat. 

Pan fried deer heart slices on a slab

I always find it interesting when we look back into our past about all of the meat that did not go to waste from an animal. Be it deer, cattle, pigs, even chickens, and game birds. Our ancestors used every part of the animals they harvested. Now? 

So much of it goes to waste in the gut pile. Or, in commercial butchering operations, the less than acceptable cuts of meat are utilized to make dog food and other domesticated animal kibbles. 

My grandmother, who was born in the 40s, remembers her mom preparing heart, liver, and even lamb brains for supper. Why don’t we utilize these portions anymore? While I’m not so sure I can wrap my head around eating fried lamb brain, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try new things and attempt to not let the animals we harvest and eat die in vain. 

We were so fortunate to get the small deer we got the other day. She would’ve likely laid there until her meat was useless for human consumption, and that, to me, is depressing. When we opened her up for butcher, my husband asked if I wanted to keep the heart. Well, of course, I did. The heart is a muscle, just like all of those delicious venison steaks we enjoy dining on are. Why waste it?

So, we were able to harvest the heart and it served two uses for our family. The first was, while I was rinsing it and getting ready to slice it up, we had an impromptu anatomy lesson for our homeschool science that day. My farm girls got to see a heart similar in size to their own, learn what the different chambers of the heart are, the main artery and vein branches that come out, and how the heart works. When we sliced it, they were able to see cross-sections of the heart chambers to see how they fill with blood. As a mom who worked in the medical field for a decade before having children and went to college to become a doctor, this was a lot of fun for me and they enjoyed it too.

The second purpose it served was, of course, feeding our family. If you’ve never tried deer heart, you’re missing out. It rivals backstraps in taste and really doesn’t need marinades. Just a simple pan-fry with some seasoning and it’s absolutely delicious. 

How to Cook Deer Heart

Whole venison heart halved on a table

Purge and Rinse

The blood left in the heart can add an iron-like taste to the meat if it isn’t purged. To do this, you simply put the valves under cool, running water, gently squeeze, and wait until the water runs clear. By the time I got to this after our butchering session, the blood had coagulated a little bit. That’s okay. Kinda gross when it comes out, but it won’t hurt anything. 

Slice

First, you can trim away the top part of the heart that contains the valves, arteries and veins, and the hard fat on the top. You can leave some of the fat if you’d like, I just trim the entire top away from the muscle itself. 

Cutting off tissue from top of venison heart

Next, you can slice the heart right where you see the bottom chambers naturally divided.

Deer heart halved in center

Inside you’ll find a lot of connective tissue that you can trim away.

Showing connective tissue in heart that needs removed before cooking

Then, just make lengthwise cuts through the heart to create several slices of meat.

Slices of deer heart

I made them into smaller, bite-sized morsels, but you don’t have to. It’s really up to you. About 1/4″ to 1/2″ is about the right thickness to cook it. 

Soak In Salt Water

As I said, the blood can add an iron taste to your meat. To remove this taste after cleaning it out and slicing it up, you can place it in a bowl of water with a couple of teaspoons of sea salt overnight. It will be ready in the morning (or the next evening) to cook. 

Then, you just prepare it as I state below. It’s delicious, tender meat. You’re going to love it. 

Halved deer heart
Pan fried deer heart slices on a slab

Easy Pan Fried Deer Heart Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes

This easy pan fried deer heart recipe makes delicious use of a very underutilized meat from your harvest. Flavorful, easy to prepare and a great use of a tasty meat. 

Ingredients

  • 1 Deer Heart
  • 1 Clove Garlic (crushed)
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. After you've prepared your deer heart, gather all of the ingredients and melt 1/4 cup of butter in a cast iron skillet.
  2. Season the heart with parsley, black pepper and sea salt. Add the crushed clove of garlic and the seasoned deer heart pieces to the skillet with the melted butter.
  3. Turning once, cook meat in butter over medium high heat for about three minutes per side or to desired doneness.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 237mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 7g

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Jim and Eileen

Saturday 8th of January 2022

Danielle, Thanks so much for your easy recipe for both heart and liver. It's been awhile to have my mind refreshed as it's been awhile since this 77 yr. year old made these two, ha-ha. My 80 yr. old husband can't wait to enjoy these that were given to us by one of our grandchildren. Bless you for all the hard work you do.

Danielle McCoy

Sunday 9th of January 2022

So happy to help! Enjoy :).

Tom

Monday 29th of November 2021

That was fantastic and the easiest, juiciest heart I’ve ever made. I used 2 min per side for barely done.

Danielle McCoy

Tuesday 30th of November 2021

Glad you enjoyed it!

Jody

Tuesday 23rd of November 2021

My husband just harvested a nice VT buck and dropped off the deer heart to me here at home. He asked me to cook it and bring it to camp tonight. I'm happy to do it but I panicked because I am clueless on how to cook it. Then I found this. I appreciate you sharing the process on how to prepare it for cooking, I probably would have sliced it, valves and all and fried it up.. I'll only be able to let it soak in the saltwater for a few hours but I figured it's better than not at all.

Danielle McCoy

Tuesday 23rd of November 2021

I'm so glad it helped! There are times I don't really get to soak it at all we get so busy with butchering, it should be absolutely fine soaking for a few hours.

Billy Bob

Monday 15th of November 2021

You don't "harvest" an animal, you kill them. You harvest plants.

Danielle McCoy

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

Isn't it funny how words in our language often have more than a single definition? One of the definitions of harvest, according to Merriam-Webster is "the quantity of a natural product gathered in a single season." Animals are natural. Also, as a transitive verb harvest can be defined as "to gather, catch, hunt, or kill (salmon, oysters, deer, etc.) for human use, sport, or population control". Kill as an intransitive verb can be defined as "to cause the death of a person, animal, or plant." Much like the ability to have more than one opinion on a particular subject, words can have various meanings that can often be found within the context of a statement. Intriguing how that works, isn't it?

MATT VICKEY

Monday 14th of December 2020

I just made this up and I was pleasantly surprised. Very good. First time ever cooking deer heart

Danielle McCoy

Tuesday 15th of December 2020

So glad you enjoyed it!

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