I love cooking deer hearts, as well as the hearts of any large animal, from bison to pronghorn, elk, beef, you name it. Here’s how to prepare deer heart for cooking, regardless of the recipe.
Obviously, start with hearts. Above are the hearts of a big buck deer and a nilgai, an Indian antelope that has run wild in south Texas for a century.
Keep in mind that this is how I trim deer hearts. There are other methods, but this is how I learned how to clean beef hearts in restaurants, and I think it works well, especially for people who might be squeamish about eating a heart.
All this is pretty easy. You need a very sharp knife and a well-lit place to work. From there, here’s how to prepare deer heart in a few easy steps.
First, trim the very top off the heart. It’s edible, but it can be a bit jiggly-veiny, so I will either feed it to the cat, or toss it into the grind pile.
Next, trim off as much of the fat ring around the top of the deer heart as you can. You might think it would be tasty, but it is the hardest and waxiest of all deer fat; for more on deer fat, read my article on it here.
Now you want to open the deer heart like a book. You start doing that by locating the chambers of the heart. As mammals, we all have four-chambered hearts. The geography of hearts are all the same, so this works as well with deer heart as it does with beef, pork, lamb, you name it.
I like to jam my fingers into the largest chamber, then use the knife to open it up along its natural pathway. Do this the the other chambers as well, and you essentially open the whole heart like a scroll or a book.
Once it’s all opened like this, you will want to slice off the weird veiny bits. Again, these can feed your pets or go into the grind pile.
Then you slice the opened deer heart into large chunks. One will be much thicker than the others. This one I normally slice in half lengthwise so it’s the same thickness as the others.
After that, you’re done. You have a deer heart prepared for cooking.
If you cut the big pieces into chunks, you can make Peruvian anticuchos, marinated grilled deer heart on a stick.
However you prepare deer heart, you will want to tenderize it. I like using a jaccard, which is a device that uses lots of little blades to pierce the meat, tenderizing it.
Deer hearts should be cooking medium-rare to medium, or for a very long time. Nothing in between.
If you want to see me prepare deer heart on video, it is part of my Masterclass-style video course on prepping and cooking venison. The ad below gives you a 20 percent discount!
If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.
How to Prepare Deer Heart for Cooking
- 1 heart
- Slice the very top off the heart, which is mostly veins. You can grind this up for burger, or feed it to your pets, or toss it in the stock pot.
- Trim away the fat from around the top of the heart. This is very hard and waxy.
- Use your knife to open up the heart's chambers along their natural seams. You'll do this twice, and the end result opens the heart up like a scroll or book.
- Carefully slice away the veiny bits. Again, these can go into the grinder, or stockpot, or your pet's bowl.
- One end of the heart will be twice as thick as the rest. I slice that in half lengthwise so it's the same width as the others. Now you're ready to go!