I had the opportunity to hunt axis deer on Molokai, Hawaii, this summer with Danielle Prewett, Ben O’Brien, and the folks from Camp Chef. In addition to being overrun with deer, this beautiful island provides an abundance of wild food. Almost everywhere we went, we found guava hanging from the trees, literally ripe for the picking.
Danielle and I grabbed a couple handfuls of fruit knowing that we wanted to incorporate it into a recipe with grilled axis heart. I prepared some basic guava preserve then added it to a reduction of vinegar and sugar to make a sweet-and-sour glaze. This technique is traditionally called "gastrique" and can be created with any combination of vinegar and sweetener.
- 2 venison hearts
- Bamboo skewers, soaked in water
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ cup guava preserve*
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Cut open and clean the hearts by slicing the fat and arteries off the top then removing the tendons inside. Refer to this heart cleaning demonstration on our YouTube channel if needed. Slice the heart into thin strips and thread onto the skewers. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to grill.
Make the glaze by adding the sugar to a small saucepan with a splash of water. Stir to dissolve the sugar into the water then place the pan over medium-high heat and let the sugar liquify and caramelize. Once it turns deep amber in color, quickly add the vinegar and return the pan to the heat. Let it bubble and boil another minute or two or until all the sugar is melted into the vinegar and the mixture has reduced enough that it reaches a syrup consistency and can coat the back of a spoon. Keep in mind that it will continue to harden and thicken as it cools so don’t overdo it.
Remove the pan from heat immediately and stir in the guava preserves and fresh grated ginger. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature and adjust the consistency with small amounts of water if it's too thick.
Preheat a grill over high heat and oil the grates. Brush the venison skewers with some of the glaze and grill over direct heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the skewers, brush with the glaze again, and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes until the meat is caramelized and cooked to medium-rare. It should still be quite pink in the middle. Whatever you do, don’t overcook the heart or it will be very tough. Finish with a little more glaze and a sprinkle of salt.
*Note: Substitute with apple butter or peach preserves