Do’s and Don’ts of Cooking with Deer Heart

Pump flavor into your diet and make your hunting successes go farther by adding deer heart to diverse culinary dishes.

Adobe Stock/Chamois huntress

Many hunters discard all organs while field-dressing a deer. I used to do the same, until I heard a veteran sportsman rhapsodizing about the culinary delights of fried deer heart and yellow onions. After that, I saved a heart, and my wife, Elaine, prepared it the same way. We found it tough and barely edible, with the yellow onions’ natural sharpness overwhelming the heart’s delicate flavor.

Deciding to give deer heart another try, Elaine slow-cooked the organ on low for six hours with a can of cream of mushroom soup. She then sliced the meat thinly and made the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Over the years, we’ve become big fans of deer heart. We’ve found the key to this delicious organ is to prepare it correctly.

Wild and (Guilt) Free

Deer heart is a healthy food. Laura Pole is an oncology clinical nurse specialist and health-supportive chef from Hardy, Virginia. “In general, we are what deer and other animals eat,” she says. “Wild game and pastured animals, 

eating their natural diet, pass their health on to us. Wild animal meat also tends to be healthy for us to consume, as it’s often lean and high in protein. Specifically, deer heart has some unique attributes. It contains CoQ10, which serves as an antioxidant. CoQ10 is also essential for the health of human tissues and organs, and our immune systems.”

And that’s just the beginning of the heart’s attributes. Deer hearts, as well as the hearts of other animals, are high in iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B2, B6, and B12. So, if you’re feeling tired and run-down, or you have high blood pressure, eating heart regularly can help improve your health, and it can even boost your energy.

Postmortem Preparation

Some people don’t like wild game because they think it tastes gamy. From my experience, when the meat from any wild game tastes slightly off, it’s because the animal wasn’t treated correctly after it was killed. Simply stated, the sooner you can remove the heart and other organs, such as the tongue and liver, and chill them, the better they’ll taste later.

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