How to Prepare Deer Heart for Cooking

Video where is the heart of a deer

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.

A deer heart and a nilgai heart on a cutting table.
Photo by Hank Shaw

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.

Yes, it’s an organ, but deer hearts are 100 percent muscle, so they are unthreatening to newcomers, unlike, say, deer kidneys or livers.

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.

Getting ready to prepare deer heart with a sharp boning knife.
Photo by Hank Shaw

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.

A deer heart trimmed at the top, and with the hard fat removed from the outside of it.
Photo by Hank Shaw

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.

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Opening the chambers of a deer heart to prepare it for cooking.
Photo by Hank Shaw

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.

A deer heart opened up like a scroll or book.
Photo by Hank Shaw

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.

Thickest part of a deer heart still needing to be trimmed.
Photo by Hank Shaw

After that, you’re done. You have a deer heart prepared for cooking.

A deer heart, prepared for cooking.
Photo by Hank Shaw

If you leave it in these large pieces, you can pound them into a cutlet or schnitzel and make jagerschnitzel with it, or make grilled deer heart with peppers and onions.

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.

You can manually do this by dicing the deer heart small. Done this way, it make the perfect meat for venison chili or Cajun sauce piquante.

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!

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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.