Heart tends to be a underutilized cut of meat by many hunters, however, in addition to being a culinary tradition (possibly the oldest culinary tradition in relation to hunting), it is quite a tasty hunk of muscle. Personally, I look forward to seared or sautéed venison heart as much as I look forward to fresh tenderloins. As our earlier post on pickled venison heart seems to be consistely referenced in internet searches, I thought I would assemble a blog post dedicated to butchering the heart in preparation for cooking.
Step 1: Get your hands on a heart (yours may or may not have a .45 caliber hole in it). Place the heart under cold, running water and allow water the run through the heart. Pump it several times until the water runs clear. You may have some congealed blood in there depending on the circumstances of the kill.
Step 2: Chose a natural muscle line and make a precise and careful incision running the length of the heart. Inside the heart, you will notice the “heart strings” which will need to eventually be removed. The top of the heart or “crown” tends to be incased in fat which, as deer fat is extremely “gamey”, you will want to remove. You will also need to remove the main arteries.
Step 3: Start by applying some pressure with your hand or knife blade. This “kneading” will help to separate the crown of the heart from the primary muscle.
Step 4: Since meat is at a premium, you will want to take care to preserve as much meat as possible. Precisely remove the crown with your knife. I prefer to give this pile of trimmings to the dogs.
Step 5: Trim the fat with your knife like you would remove silverskin from a backstrap. Use kitchen shears to trim tidbits of fat.
Step 6: Now slice the heart into thin strips for Sauteing, Searing or Frying. For recipes on this matter, see Hank Shaw’s site.