2 deer hearts, and one pork heart.

Finally. I’ve been wanting to try a deer heart pastrami for a while now. I got it done… and did the final hot smoke and steaming today. The recipe was taken from Michael Pendley’s venison pastrami recipe on RealTree.com. I mainly went with his ingredients and followed his procedure, but used two deer hearts and a pork heart I had. The results are not disappointing!

I love pastrami, and while I usually dry cure my deer hearts, I wanted to do a pastrami because of the dense, silky texture of the heart meat. With all the fat on the outside, it just seemed perfect. I did trim a little of the outer fat off though. I have an exact process of dressing deer hearts at this point. Where and how it’s cut is the same all the time if I’m wanting to keep it in a single piece. In dry-curing, it get EQ cured, then rolled tight and trussed before drying. Once during that process, it get’s unrolled, brushed, a layer of cracked pepper put on, then rolled back up, and re-trussed.

For the pastrami, it was cut and dressed the same way, put in the brine for about 9 days, washed off, rubbed, then hot smoked before steaming. It was rolled back up into the shape of the heart before laid on the top rack of my smoker.

Hearts in the brine, then into the fridge.

For the brine;

  • 2 quarts of water
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Instacure #1
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 crumbled bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger

I added 3 hearts (2 deer and one pork) – I mixed it up and heated it in a pot just as prescribed in Michael’s article. Once cooled, I added the cleaned, dressed hearts. I let it go in the brine for about 8 or 9 days because that’s how long it took me to get back to it.

Hearts out of the hot smoke, and into the steam.

I washed off with water, and rubbed it down with:

  • 2 tablespoons cracked BP
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds (my own in fact)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Steak seasoning
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoons onion powder

I mixed all the ingredients, and rubbed the inside and outside of the hearts really well. I got it into all the crevices of the inside. Then I rolled them up, and laid them on the top rack of the smoker. I did the first hour at 225 over apple wood chunks… and then ramped it up to 250 until an internal temp of 150. When it came off, I laid them on a rack over a tray of water in the oven at 250 for 1.5 hours to steam it. When it came out, I sliced, ate some, and vac’d them into little Carl Budding-like packs to share with friends.

I highly recommend this. It’s really worth it. Enjoy some pics, and commentary.