Pickled Venison Heart
A recipe featured in the Outdoor News Taste of the Wild
Contributed by Jamie Carlson
One of my favorite things to eat is the heart of whatever animals I get to bring home after hunting. The heart is a dense and flavorful muscle that when prepared correctly, is a beautiful treat to share with friends and family.
My wife and I were out to dinner a while back and they had pickled beef heart one the menu. I was curious so I ordered it. After eating it, and loving it, I couldn’t wait to try it with one of the venison hearts I had in the freezer. After looking at a few different recipes I decided to make up a pickled venison heart recipe. I started by thinking of all the flavors I love to pear with venison and got to work. What I ended up with is a tender, bright and wonderful piece of meat that I would be proud to serve to anybody. Even my wife thought it was good and she isn’t much for organ meats.
Important Note! This pickling recipe is a two-part process; first you have to cook the heart and then you can pickle it.
For Cooking Liquid – Preparing the heart
4 cups water
1 sprig rosemary
1 small bunch of thyme
5 juniper berries (crushed with the side of a knife)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Cut the heart in four pieces using the chambers of the heart as a guide. Trim the heart of all fat until you have four nice pieces of meat then add the heart to the boiling liquid and simmer for 45 minutes. After the heart is cooked, let it cool completely then slice it into strips or chunks, whichever you prefer.
For Pickling Liquid – Canning the heart
1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons honey
4 juniper berries
2 cloves of garlic
Additional Pickling Ingredients
Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
Bring the cider vinegar and remaining four ingredients to a boil. While that is cooking, place the prepared strips of meat into a sterilized 1 pint *jar with 1/4 of a thinly sliced red onion, 1 sprig of rosemary and 2 sprigs of thyme. Pour the hot liquid into the jar and immediately seal with a lid. Complete the canning process by boiling the jar in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. (refer to your canner’s instructions) Let the mixture sit for a couple of days before diving in.
**Depending on the size of your heart, you may need to use multiple jars. If so, just double the pickling liquid.
About the Chef: Jamie Carlson is a hunting, fishing, and foraging enthusiast. He works as a registered nurse at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and the great outdoors and when he can he loves to combine the two. Jamie enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, particularly those who are new to hunting, fishing, and cooking in the great outdoors. He is a contributing food writer for national hunting publications and Modern Carnivore.