When I was growing up, we always ate the fried heart of a deer soon after killing it. My mom cooked it very simply: sliced thin, dredged in seasoned flour, and then fried in a skillet. My dad always complained if we put ketchup on venison loin, but he didn’t mind if we dipped our slices of heart in it.
Since then I’ve had wild game hearts cooked in dozens of ways, but this is still my favorite. It’s easy, it’s deeply midwestern, it tastes perfect, and it’s a great way to introduce otherwise squeamish eaters to a somewhat adventurous food item.
Try it, and this recipe is likely to become a ritual of your own.
- 1 game heart, with upper valves and cartilage removed, sliced into ½-inch discs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Flour for dredging
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Marinating Heart Deer heart takes to a marinade quite nicely. I like to marinate it and grill the slices Here’s a simple recipe you might want to try Slice the deer heart 1/2 inch thick. Combine in a resealable bag 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil. 2 tablespoons steak seasoning, and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Add the heart, turn to coat well, and seal the bag Marinate for 1 hour in the fridge. Remove the heart from the marinade and Jet it come to room temperature. Grill over high heat, about 3 minutes per side. Char is good, but don’t overcook it, as it cooks fast! The smoky char combined with the vinegary marinade and the buttery heart-it’s like paradise on a grill!
Season the heart slices with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, then shake off the excess. Heat a cast-iron frying pan or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil When the oil shimmers, add the heart pieces. Brown them on both sides. This will go quickly.
Serve hot with ketchup on the side. There’s nothing better in the world.