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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.
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, pig, 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 kibble.
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 what 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 marinaded. Just a simple pan fry with some seasoning and it’s absolutely delicious.
How to Cook Deer Heart
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.
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.
Next, you can slice the heart right where you see the bottom chambers naturally divided. Inside you’ll find a lot of connective tissue that you can trim away. Then, just make lengthwise cuts through the heart to create several slices of meat. 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
Like 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 teaspoons of sea salt overnight. It will be ready in the morning (or the next evening) to cook.
Then, you just prepare it like I state below. It’s delicious, tender meat. You’re going to love it.
- 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
- After you've prepared your deer heart, gather all of the ingredients and melt 1/4 cup of butter in a cast iron skillet.
- 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.
- Turning once, cook meat in butter over medium high heat for about three minutes per side or to desired doneness.
Other Wild Game Recipes You’ll Love:
Do you try to utilize animals from head to tail? What are some meats you’ve tried that aren’t considered normal anymore?