I recently had the opportunity to cook the heart of my first deer, and as first meals from first deer go, this breakfast couldn’t be more memorable. I had no hesitations about cooking or eating heart, but I was curious. Would it be tough? Would it be reminiscent of liver? I don’t mind offal, so it didn’t put me off, but I can imagine those same questions hold a lot of people back from trying the heart. To my surprise, the heart was tender, mild, and had the texture of a great steak, and the crispy thyme & garlic-infused edges left me wishing every deer had a few more of these ticking away inside of them. Setting the round slices of fried heart over onions caramelized with a good IPA & an over-easy egg as a topper sealed the deal: This is, for sure, a Trophy Meal. –Nicole Qualtieri, MeatEater’s Social Media Community Manager
Fried Deer Heart with Fresh Garlic & Thyme
–One heart, cored and sliced thin
–5-6 large sprigs of fresh thyme
–2 whole garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
–2 tbsp butter
–Salt & Pepper
Warm up your cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add butter, thyme, and garlic. Once melted and fragrant, add in slices of heart but don’t crowd the pan. Salt & pepper the meat as you go, sauté until edges are crispy, remove from pan.
IPA Caramelized Onions
One whole onion, halved, then sliced thin
One bottle of India Pale Ale, we used Big Sky IPA
Salt & Pepper
Brown sugar
Melt butter into pan, add all onions, salt & pepper, and about a teaspoon of brown sugar. Sauté until translucent. Then add just enough IPA that it foams over the onions. Reduce until onions are deep brown and forming blackened edges. Remove from pan.
You’ll have about ¾ of a beer left over, which makes for a great chef’s beverage as you stack the slices of heart over the onions, and sit down with friends to enjoy the kind of insanely delicious meal that many hunters leave out in the field. There won’t be any lucky coyotes eating hearts in my neck of the woods, I can tell you that much.