I am not much of a fan of all the organ meats that are popular in traditional Viennese cuisine. But when I bought a whole roe deer from a hunter last week, he told me that usually, hunters keep the heart for themselves. For a good reason, apparently it is the most delicious cut of meat. Tempting! Since I recently had a hay-smoked goat’s heart at the wonderful Koya restaurant in London, I made up the following dish which proved to me that the hunters are right.
2 venison hearts (or lamb, veal or goat)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp red balsamic vinegar, mild
1 clove of garlic, crushed
salt & pepper
a small piece of wood suitable for smoking
Clean the hearts of veins, fat and other dodgy bits at the top. Slice into 3-4 pieces of equal thickness, cutting from top to bottom, along the natural divisions in the muscle. Marinate with all the other ingredients, for a least an hour, the longer the better.
Heat a cast iron griddle or pan to very hot and flash fry the hearts for about two minutes on each side. In the meantime, heat up a heavy pot on low heat, line the bottom with tin foil, place a steaming rack covered with baking parchment inside it. Take the wood and burn it over the gas flame of your stove or with the help of a butane torch. When it starts glowing, place in the bottom of the pot and lay the hearts on top of the steamer. Cover tightly and keep the pot on a very low flame. Let the hearts sit for 15 minutes in the smoke. Remove, slice diagonally and serve immediately with plenty of black pepper and fleur de sel. They should be nice and red on the inside.
I served this with celeriac straw with thyme and lemon salt, based on this recipe, which was delicious in itself.
Presentation and photography still have room for improvement…