Save the Heart… You’ll Love It!

Venison heart is really tasty!  You may have heard this or even tried it in the past, but are a bit suspect of it, but it is definitely worth trying if when cleaning your deer you find the heart intact..  It’s important to soak or brine the heart to get it nice and clean and to remove the silver skin for tender, steak-like meat. One heart can easily serve two people as a meal or can create a bunch of appetizers. Here is a way to prepare the heart as either an appetizer or an entre.

Marinated, Pan-Seared Venison Heart with Caramelized Onions


  • 1 intact deer heart
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine or vermouth or red wine vinegar
  • sprigs of fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, and or parsley if available
  • 1 cup onion, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon or port or beef stock or grape juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley if available


Clean the heart under running cold water and soak it in a light brine (1 Tbsp. kosher salt to 1 qt. cold water) in the refrigerator for at least a few hours and up to a few days.  Change the water out a few times if possible.  Peel the outer layer of the heart off with a sharp knife.  This layer is a bit tougher, like a silver skin layer.  Remove the top ventricle and visible fat.  Then slice the heart into medallions, cleaning around any silver skin areas within the heart. Take your time with this process to get nice pieces of pure, lean meat.

In a bowl combine the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, 1 clove garlic, dry wine or red wine vinegar, fresh herbs, and black pepper & salt to taste.  Add the venison slices to this marinade mixture and stir to coat.

You can leave this at room temperature if you will cook it within an hour or put in the refrigerator if marinating for a longer time. When ready to cook, heat 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium to medium low heat.  Add the onions (note: sliced mushrooms would be nice to add here too).  Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the onions are golden colored and caramelized.  Remove the onions to a plate.  Turn the heat up to medium high.  Add the venison slices in a single layer.  Cook for 2 minutes and flip them over to cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove the venison from the pan and reserve on a plate. Add another 1 Tbsp. of butter to the pan, the bourbon or beef stock, and the garlic. Bring the mixture up to a gentle boil stirring well.  Cook for a minute or two and then add the onions and meat back to the pan and stir everything to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve as an appetizer or as a main course over a bed of rice pilaf with a side vegetable or fajita-style.

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