The venison heart from my fall hunt was sitting patiently in my freezer, waiting for me to come up with a preparation that was both delicious and unfussy. Christmas eve was creeping up though I wanted to share the heart with friends and family, nothing was inspiring me. Thinking back to a carpaccio I had made a few weeks before, it suddenly hit me…why not tartare? The heart is inherently lean with a firm texture and would not easily break down into a goopy mess when combined with the rest of the ingredients.
Hank Shaw’s recipe seemed closest to what I was looking for – clean, simple and full of complementary flavours. I’ve slightly modified it here with a greater nod to some of the spices.
1 Venison heart, trimmed and finely diced
1 minced shallot
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs juniper berries
1 tbs caraway seeds
1 tbs black peppercorns
1 tbs smoked black sea salt
1 egg yolk
Soak shallots with vinegar and set aside.
in a pan, toast juniper berries, caraway seeds and black peppercorns until fragrant
grind spices in a mortar and pestle.
Add shallots and egg yolk to venison heart.
Mix and add salt and spice mixture to taste (I used the amounts provided but it will vary with the size of the heart)
Serve with toasted baguette slices
The dish was a resounding success. Even my more squeamish guests were quickly won over by the sweet taste of the venison and the firm generous texture of the heart. Oddly, both my girlfriend and I noticed how we felt hyper aware after the tartare course. I guess we finally did get the essence of the animal inside of us.