Venison heart is one of the most misunderstood meats in the woods. While the heart is labeled an organ, its texture is pure muscle, more steak than organ meat. Hearts often get a bum rap for being tough or chewy or stringy, but they’re not if you trim them correctly.
The most important part of cleaning a heart is to open it up and trim away the fibrous tissue inside. Simply trim down one side of the heart, then follow the seams to “unroll” or butterfly the entire thing into one flat steak.
From there, just trim away the fibers that run along the inside of the heart, as well as any of the hard, white fat from the outer surface.
What’s left is prime eats, one of the best parts of a deer. You can toss it on the grill as it is, slice it into strips for chicken fried steak, dice it up for tacos, or, as we do in this recipe, stuff it, roll it, tie it and grill it.
To complement the rich venison flavor, we chose a creamy spinach and mushroom stuffing with a hint of smokiness from bacon.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35-40 minutes
- 1 large or 2 medium venison hearts, butterflied and well trimmed
- 8 ounces of your favorite mushrooms, sliced
- 8 ounces baby spinach
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 slices bacon, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Black pepper
- Butcher’s twine
- Brown the bacon until crisp. Reserve bacon, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Sauté 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms soften and begin to give up their liquid. Place spinach in the pan and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the spinach has cooked down and most of the moisture has evaporated. Add the cream and the reserved bacon to the mixture. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture thickens a bit. Stir frequently.
- While the spinach and mushroom mixture thickens, check the heart again to make certain there are no remaining bits of connective or fibrous tissue. Season the heart on both sides with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.
- Spoon the mixture of mushrooms and spinach onto the center of the heart, being careful not to overfill it. Gently roll the heart back together into its original shape. Use the butcher’s twine to tie the heart to help it hold its shape as it cooks.
- Place the heart on a preheated grill over medium-high heat. Grill for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until medium to medium-rare.
- To serve, slice the heart into half-inch-thick rounds.