All to often, the heart from venison gets tossed aside and left in the field. That's a shame. It makes fine table fare. This method of corning (brining in a cure over several days in the refrigerator), then smoking, gives the heart a pastrami-like flavor and texture.
Slice it thin and serve it on a cracker, maybe with a thin slice of your favorite cheese or a pepper slice, as an appetizer, or pile it high on a sandwich. Either way, corned venison heart is good eats. If you have any leftovers, try dicing them up and frying with diced potatoes for a breakfast hash.
Venison heart is a dense muscle. I like to leave it in the corning mixture at least five days to ensure complete cure penetration.
Venison heart (you can do several at a time if you have them), cleaned and trimmed of fat
2 quarts water
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons pickling spice blend
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed with the flat of a knife
1/2 ounce Instacure #1
Trim most of the external fat and silverskin from the hearts.
Mix all brine ingredients and heat in a medium saucepan to a light simmer. Continue simmering for a full 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and slide the pot over to allow the brine to cool.
Place the hearts in a large bowl and pour over the brine liquid. You might need to weight the hearts down with a plate to make sure they are completely covered by the liquid. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least five days.
Rinse the hearts under cold water and smoke at 250 degrees for three to four hours on the Traeger Grill. Slice the heart thinly. For a bit of extra moisture and to get a more pastrami like texture, you can steam the hearts for a few minutes before slicing.
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