People often ask me about venison heart. Is it worth keeping, how do you cook it, what texture does it have? The answer is a resounding yes, the heart is one of the best parts of a deer. The texture is similar to any other muscle, best described as a meaty steak.
What to do with it? You can fry it, grill it, or cure and smoke it like pastrami, but one of my favorite ways to use it is in this jerky recipe. I smoke them at 175 degrees on the Supersmoke setting of my Traeger Grill until they are chewy, but not completely dried out.
These jerky bites are perfect for a snack around the house or in the deer stand. They make a perfect introduction to someone who might be on the fence about eating the heart from a deer.
2-3 venison hearts, trimmed of fat and connective tissue, diced into roughly 1-inch pieces (2-3 pounds finished meat)
Traeger Big Game BBQ Rub
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Hatch Roasted Chile Peppers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Instacure #1
Begin by opening the heart until it lays out flat like a steak. Trim the fibrous connective tissue and any fat along the top of the heart. Cut the meat into roughly 1-inch bites. Place the meat into a glass or ceramic casserole dish.
Mix the marinade ingredients well and pour over the meat. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.
Remove the jerky bites from the marinade and place on a grill rack and onto the smoker. Sprinkle the bites well with your favorite BBQ rub. We used the Traeger Big Game Rub for this one.
Smoke the jerky for 4-5 hours at 175 degrees or until the texture is chewy, but not completely dried out. Store in zip-style bags in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or vacuum sealed in the freezer for a year or more.
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