Venison Heart over Wild Rice

A recipe featured in the Outdoor News Taste of the Wild
Prepping ingredients for recipe using venison heart_Outdoor News Taste of the Wild

Recipe and photos by Sarah Kozlowski

Every year, the gun-deer season in Wisconsin is like a holiday for my family and I. Besides the love for the hunt and family, there’s no better reward than the venison. Growing up, my mom would always boil her deer’s heart and cut it up for us with a little salt sprinkle and we loved the taste of it. When I harvested my first deer, though, I wanted to try something different than how I had grown up eating it. I stumbled across a version of this recipe by Joel Lickliter.  It is now the method I have used for the last three deer my husband and I have harvested.

While you could serve the venison in this recipe as an appetizer or over some type of pasta, I am a sucker for wild rice, so I figured it would be a great mix up with the deer heart. I am fortunate enough to live near the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation, and know several friends who go ricing, so I am never in shortage of it during the fall hunting season!

Sarah K Deer Heart Recipe 2

Photo by Sarah Kozlowski

To prepare a meal for two, and also have leftovers, this recipe will require:


Wild Rice Blend:

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Prepared on stove top


2 cups of wild rice

3 cups water

3 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon of salt


Venison Deer Heart:

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: Roughly 6 minutes

Prepared on cast-iron skillet.


1 harvested and cleaned deer heart

½ sweet onion, chopped

¼ cup red wine (Cabernet, preferred)

½ tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of butter


Begin by preparing your wild rice, the deer heart will be ready very quickly so it can wait until later.

Rinse, do not soak, your wild rice. Do this under cold running water and shake to drain.

Place the rice, water, stock, and salt into your stovetop pot and cover.

Cook on medium high heat.

When it comes to a boil, turn to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Around finishing time, you should notice the rice opens.

Your rice is now done and you can drain the pot.

To prepare your deer heart for cooking, you must clean the heart and the ventricles.

Start by cutting off the top of the heart.

This will clear out the aorta and pulmonary valve and expose the ventricles.

Be sure to cut off any white, inedible fat you see.

When clean, rinse in cold water.

You want to pump the heart and use your fingers to clean out any leftover blood.

Pat dry using paper towels.

Slice into about one-half inch thick steaks.

Clean out any fibrous, white tissue you find in the ventricle holes now that you’re able to see better.

Lightly salt and pepper each side to your personal taste.

Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.

Place 2 tablespoons of butter onto the skillet and when it has melted, add the garlic and onions. Stir the mixture, cooking the onions until they’re showing a small amount of brown. Then add your sliced venison heart pieces to the pan.

To achieve a perfect medium rare, cook the heart about one minute to a minute and a half per side, or until you see the steaks graying up halfway. They cook quickly, so make sure you watch them closely! You do not want to overcook them more than that, trust me.  The texture can get bad and the flavor gets lost.

Once you’ve flipped the meat, add the ¼ cup of red wine splashed over the steaks.  I prefer to use Cabernet.

Spoon some of the onion and garlic mixture over the top of the meat to add some more flavor.

Remove from the pan when you see that the bottom side of the steak has grayed in the cooking process to meet the top half.

Let sit for about 3 minutes to cool and settle the juices and flavors.

You can eat the steaks the way they are, or what I like to do is cut them into pieces and stir into the wild rice mixture.  Garnish with the remaining onion, garlic, wine mixture.


Sarah Kozlowski of Her Wilderness_Outdoor News Taste of the Wild Contributing Chef

About the contributor:
Sarah Kozlowski is from Hayward, Wisconsin; she’s an avid female angler, hunter, hiker and kayaker. When she isn’t doing those things, she’s learning something new, such as becoming a passionate bow hunter. You can follow her adventures @skozlowskiii on Instagram.


Categories: Big Game, Featured

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