This is an adaptation from a recipe for deviled kidneys in English chef Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. It’s a tasty and easy way to cook the hearts of really any small animal you happen to be hunting or raising at the moment; ducks are my default because I hunt them eagerly every winter.
No matter who’s heart you are cooking, make sure to trim the top above the little white ring fat, which mostly arterial gunk. You can either leave the hearts whole, halve them or do both if you have an assortment: Little teal hearts should be left whole, goose hearts should be sliced.
What is a deviled heart? Well, deviled whatever is a centuries-old British term for anything a bit zippy: You most often see deviled eggs these days, which are “deviled” from mustard and/or cayenne. Anytime you see the combination of mustard and cayenne it could legitimately be called “deviled.” Thus this recipe.
Fear not. It’s not blow-your-head-off spicy. This is a British dish, after all. It’s nicely seasoned, and the addition of the acidic, savory Worcestershire, a bit of broth to loosen things up and some finely grated onion for flavor and you have a snack, appetizer, lunch or first course fit for anyone. The hearts stay very tender and pink in the middle, and this whole shebang works really well as an open-faced sandwich as well as a salad.
Deviled Duck Hearts
I list this as a duck recipe because that is the sort of heart I tend to amass in quantity. But any small heart will do: Chickens, pheasants, grouse, quail, turkeys — even rabbits and hares. And frankly, you could make this with small pieces of a larger heart, such as venison or boar. You can also make it saucier by doubling the amount of broth.
Don’t skimp on the green things, even if you can’t find watercress, arugula or frisee. Use those baby leaf lettuce mixes you see in the market, or spinach or whatever.
Serves 2, and can be scaled up.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 12 to 24 duck hearts
- 1/4 cup flour for dusting
- 1 heaping teaspoon cayenne powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1/4 cup duck fat or butter
- 1/2 small onion, grated, about 1/3 cup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup duck or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- Watercress or arugula or frisee
- Crusty bread to serve
- Mix the salt, cayenne, dry mustard and flour together. Dust the hearts with it. Heat the duck fat in a pan over medium-high heat.
- When it’s hot, drop the hearts into the pan and saute them for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan and letting the little hearts roll around a bit.
- Add the grated onion, Worcestershire sauce and broth into the pan and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Swirl everything around so the hearts get coated. Let the sauce reduce to a glaze, about 3 minutes or so over high heat. Mix in the parsley and serve with watecress and crusty bread.