Venison as a meat is incredibly versatile. You can slice it and cook in just about any number of different ways, from steaks to roasts, to jerky, fried, ground, or tossed with pasta. By now you have probably seen about a hundred different ways to cook deer meat, and when done right, most are leaner, healthier, and more delicious than any store-bought beef you can find. But what about those other parts of a deer? You know, the icky parts that go by names such as the “wobbly bits,” or “umbles,” and perhaps most disturbingly, simply as “offal.”

That’s right—what are you going to do with the edible organs?

While many hunters are familiar with cooking these delicious—if distasteful to some—deer parts, some are at a loss when it comes to organs. Is the heart edible? Are there health risks? Does the kidney taste like urine? Recipes for edible organs have existed since the first hunters ever stalked game, and there are still many that enjoy the more tender bits of deer—even more than the venison itself. Below are seven strange ways to cook deer, and they won’t include your typical grilled backstrap.

As always make sure your deer is safe to eat before consumption. Eating raw or uncooked meat may increase your risk of food-borne illness.

1. Humble pie

You can alter just about any meat pie recipe into a humble deer pie instead. Image courtesy Alpha on flickr Creative Commons.
You can alter just about any meat pie recipe into a humble deer pie instead. Image from Alpha on the flickr Creative Commons.

This age-old method of cooking deer innards can be found as far back as medieval times when the pie was considered inferior fare meant for lower-class diners. This distinction no longer exists, but recipes for humble pie live on. Usually made with deer stomach, intestines, or whatever entrails are around, this meat pie tends to have a sweet flavor. In the modern day, you can also swap out the primary meat ingredient to almost any meat pie recipe for edible organs as well.

You can find a recipe here.

2. Seared deer kidneys

Deer kidneys will resemble calf's kidneys. Image screenshot video on YouTube by Titlis Busy Kitchen.
Deer kidneys will resemble calf kidneys. Image is a screenshot of video on YouTube by Titlis Busy Kitchen.

Kidneys are among the most difficult organs to cook, and you’ll need to do a bit of preparation beforehand as well. Many hunters refuse to work with kidneys because they can be bitter and they may taste like urine. Properly prepared, however, they can taste stellar. The secret is soaking it in milk for up to four days.

You can find a recipe here.

3. Deer heart tartare

Tartare can be eaten as a spread on bread and crackers, or by itself. Image from Takeaway from the Wikimedia Commons.
Tartare can be eaten as a spread on bread and crackers, or by itself. Image from Takeaway on the Wikimedia Commons.

You are probably familiar with steak tartare, a dish made with finely chopped raw beef served with pepper and usually a raw egg yolk. The same can be made with deer heart and served on slices of grilled bread. You will probably need a meat grinder for this if you intend on making it yourself, and the minced heart meat will need to be refrigerated for a short amount of time before being mixed with olive oil, pepper, salt, and chopped onions.

You can find a recipe here.

4. Braised deer tongue

Just keep in mind that you won't make as many tacos with deer tongue as you will with cow tongue.
Just keep in mind that you won’t make as many tacos with deer tongue as you will with cow tongue. Image from stu_spivack on the flickr Creative Commons.

Just like cow tongue, deer tongue can go great with a number of dishes. It is, however, smaller and a little more dense when compared to the bovine version, which makes it perfect as a rather unique appetizer. You can braise them with juniper berries and beef stock and then serve the tongue bits on crackers or in tacos. Just be warned that it will make for a small serving.

You can find a recipe here.

5. Deer liver paté

You may have tried duck liver paté, but have you ever tried the deer version? Image from Mary on flickr Creative Commons.
You may have tried duck liver paté, but have you ever tried the deer version? Image from Mary on the flickr Creative Commons.

When it comes to deer liver, you either love it or hate it. You can cook it with onions, bake it into pies, or even turn it into paté to go along with crackers. Although making paté may seem intimidating at first, the process itself is rather easy—but takes a lot of work. What you get in return however, is a rich, lively spread that can go on sandwiches as easily as it goes with crackers.

You can find a recipe here.

6. Roasted bone marrow

Served with parsley salad and seasonings, bone marrow is considered a delicacy in many places. Image from Ewan Munro on Wikimedia Commons.
Served with parsley salad and seasonings, bone marrow is considered a delicacy in many places. Image from Ewan Munro on the Wikimedia Commons.

Some people pride themselves on using every part of the deer, and that means every part. Bone marrow may not be an obvious edible part for many, but it can surprise you in how good it is. If you’ve ever sucked marrow out of a beef bone, you’ll note that it has a creamy, fatty texture and a naturally salty taste. Deer marrow is little different and can be prepared in exactly the same ways that beef marrow are. If you’re thinking of taking on the paleo diet, this is the place to start.

You can find a recipe here.

7. Pickled deer heart

Want to eat it later? Trying pickling it. Image screenshot of video by Uncle Bucky on YouTube.
Want to eat it later? Trying pickling it. Image screenshot of video by Uncle Bucky on YouTube.

If you see a deer heart in a mason jar surrounded by rosemary, thyme, and garlic, your first reaction would probably be “What is that thing?!” If you’re a fan of pickled deer hearts, however, you might just think “Yum.”

This is definitely one dish that you can’t judge by its cover. Pickling meat is a great way to preserve it, and as weird as it may look, slices of pickled deer heart can spruce up the blandest of meals. As an added bonus, you can probably use it as a Halloween decoration as well.

You can find a recipe here.

What are some strange or unique ways that you cook your deer? Share them with your fellow hunters in the comments below.

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  • Standard Velocity

    Thank you.
    Too few take the extra time to use up all the animal.
    Stock is another big one. I spend an afternoon boning and bagging roasts. Afterwards I have a big pile of bones. Make stock! Bring it down to a demi and it is easy to store frozen or you can pressure can. Combined with a ground preparation the gelatin helps hold onto moisture.

    I also throw in all of the fat and sinew. Some of the connective tissue becomes gelatin and the fat, while not the tastiest, is really good for the manliest hand cream ever. Steep some wood chips in the rendered fat with a couple of bay leaves, whip with a little olive oil, and you can keep wind chapped knuckles from bleeding.