Grilled venison hearts is one of my favorite meals to eat whenever I have a freshly harvested one in the fridge. They are great cooked filleted open like a steak or cut into strips and placed on skewers. If you're not a marksman on the grill, I would opt for the filleted route. They can be easily overcooked once cut into strips, so you'll have more wiggle room with whole hearts.
The butter bean puree is a homey feeling side that gives you a mashed potato vibe, but without all the heaviness. The smoked bacon fat, garlic and onions play well with the earthy beans. Here I use frozen beans due to their availability for the masses but by all beans feel free to use fresh or canned. Cannellini beans work very well with the recipe too.
Serves 2 to 3
I provided a glaze that I like to use for grilled venison from time to time. Its a little bit sweet and tangy. So if that's not your thing, feel free to omit or use another glaze.
The butter bean puree can be made up to 1 day ahead.
The hearts can be marinated up to 6 hour in the fridge. Just let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour before cooking.
For the Hearts
2 venison hearts
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoon ground juniper berries
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Glaze
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin seed oil
For the Butter Bean Puree
4 pieces of raw smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cups frozen butter beans
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste
CLEAN AND MARINATE THE VENISON HEARTS: Butterfly the hearts so that they lay flat on your cutting board. Carefully remove any sinew or tendons. Lightly season the hearts with kosher salt and let them rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the heart (except the heart). Stir thoroughly to combine. Add the hearts and toss until they are fully coated. Cover and set aside while you make the beans and light the grill over high heat.
MAKE THE BEANS. In a pot over medium low heat, add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside while reserving about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pot. Add the garlic and onion. Cook while stirring often until the onions start to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, stock and milk. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a slow simmer, adjust the heat as needed. Cook the beans for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain the beans while reserving the cooking liquid. Add the butter beans, onion, garlic and butter to a blender or food processor. Add about 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Start pureeing the beans, and with the motor running, add more cooking liquid as needed to achieve a smooth texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm while you grill the hearts.
MIX THE GLAZE AND GRILL THE HEARTS: In a small bowl add the ingredients for the glaze and stir until combined. Over high heat, grill the hearts for about 2 minutes on one side. Glaze the heart and turn over. Glaze the cooked side while the other side is cooking. Cook for about 2 minutes. Pull the hearts from the grill and slather with a little more glaze. You don't want to cook them more than medium, or they will be rubbery and tough to chew. If you have an instant read thermometer, I like to pull mine at about 135 degrees F.
PLATE IT UP. Assemble each plate with a base of the butter bean puree. Slice the heat in about 1/4 inch sliced and lay on top of the puree. Crumble some of the bacon over top. If you like pepper, crack some fresh black pepper over top.