How to Clean a Venison Heart

At MeatEater, we get more questions about venison hearts than almost any other wild game cookery. And truthfully, the heart is perhaps the tastiest piece of an animal and not at all difficult to clean or cook.

There is more than one way to cook a heart, which means there is more than one way to clean a heart. One way is to cut out the connective tissues while keeping it whole. Another way is to cut the heart crosswise into rings. However, this demonstration will show you how to clean a venison heart so you end up with three large pieces of tender meat.

Essentially this means you are keeping the two main chambers of the heart while cutting the arteries off the top and the connective tissues that run through it. I treat the heart as I would steaks, cooking in large pieces.

Learning to clean a heart is one of those situations where you really have to just jump in and go for it. A good way to understand how to do this is to flashback to high school biology and recall the basic anatomy. The heart is divided into four chambers, the left ventricle (the bigger of the two), the right ventricle, and the left and right atriums (which sit atop of each ventricle). The large artery on top is the aorta and the other is the pulmonary. There are also two other veins connecting to each of the atriums.

If you failed biology or if that doesn’t ring a bell, think of the heart like a bell pepper with the arteries representing the stems on top that need to be cut out, and the septum running through the middle as the core and seeds.  However, the septum is a good piece of meat you want to keep and not throw away. Just like a bell pepper, you want to get rid of anything white. In this case, get rid of all the fat, veins and connective tissue.