Many people are squeamish when it comes to organ meat. But if you aren’t saving your deer heart, you are really missing out! Cooking the “parts” up are usually my first few meals out of a deer – the liver gets sliced and fried, and the heart gets pickled or grilled.
After you collect the heart from the body cavity, you’ll find it encased in a sheath. This is good because it helps protect it from your field dressing. When you are packing your liver and heart up in the field, cut the sheath on the heart, and it slides out pretty cleanly. Cut off any excess material, but you don’t have to go overboard.
When you are back home, you’ll clean the heart up some more. Hold it under running water and “pump” it to get any congealed blood out. Cut off any sinewy material, and cut off the fat cap, so it looks like the image above.
For grilling, it’s really no different than grilling any other cut. Once it’s cleaned, I like to cut it into disks about 3/8″ thick. I’ll marinate it in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, for a few hours to overnight.
When I’m ready to cook it, I’ll take it out of the fridge for a while to get to room temp. This isn’t overly critical for the heart, but it’s something I do with most of the meat I grill. Get the grill good and hot. When it’s ready, throw the heart slices on, and cook for 3-4 minutes per side – get a good sear. This should get them to about a medium rare – but as always, cook to your preferred doneness.
Let them sit for a few minutes before you slice them. You can eat them as is, but for a real treat (and an extra level of fanciness), they are an amazing addition to a salad. But, of course, I’ll slice them up and make a sandwich!
I find a whole heart will nicely provide enough meat for 2 to 3 decent sandwiches. If I don’t have any other takers, I’ll grill about half the heart slices for a single sandwich, and vacuum seal the rest (already marinated) and freeze for another later on.
You may love hunting, but PLEASE don’t leave your heart behind in the woods!