That wasn't right.
I reloaded the rifle and placed the bull's shoulder in the crosshairs and pressed the trigger a second time. Upon impact the bull fell into a heap and I made my way to the animal quickly. He was dead, but it was apparent my shooting was not at it's best. Not satisfied with hitting the bull too far back the first time, I did it again from the other side- smashing the liver to paste and exiting the paunch behind the last rib. While fatal, it was not the shot I normally take and wouldn't ever attempt on purpose. Upon beginning the field dressing process the carcass was an impressive wreck internally and I'd lose a significant chunk of meat from the rear quarter where the bullet exited and pulled a lot of matter from the gut with it. What a horror show and I've seen plenty to know.
If there was one bright side to my bout of spectacularly bad shooting, it was that I had, for the first time, a completely intact caribou heart. I've never been a huge fan of eating organ meat other than the occasional piece of liver- I simply don't favor it despite the assured opinion of many of my friends that the heart of game animals is the best part. Historical records and many hunter gatherer societies reserved the heart purely for the hunters and among the Plains Indians the heart was frequently consumed at the kill site. I've always assumed this was for animistic reasons rather than gastric ones and I'd never consumed the heart of an animal I'd taken. When told of my plans, several of my associates turned their noses in disgust. I found that interesting in a society that makes hot dogs and "beef pizza topping".
In days gone by when protein was harder to come by, heart was a rare delicacy on the tables of nearly everyone and recipes for it run from the simple to the fanciful. Now that I was holding this perfect heart in my hands, I decided that it was time to try it. I searched for a recipe to try it with- everything from a simple grilling process that seemed too plain for something as exotic as heart to the sausage stuffed heart with pepper creme sauce- I couldn't even find the ingredients for that one. I consulted my Facebook circle of friends and one name popped up- Marc Taylor. A trained chef, Marine Scout Sniper and an Alaskan hunter of the highest caliber immediately proffered a recipe that was simple but sounded delicious. Not too complicated as to cover up any mysterious flavor heart my offer but not so plain as a piece of meat thrown over fire.
And here it is.
Soak the pieces in milk overnight of for at least several hours.
Dredge the pieces in well seasoned flour and pan fry in hot oil with onions.
Voila'....GBD- Golden Brown and Delicious!
When finished, brown a little of the flour mixture and then deglaze with broth and make a brown gravy.
Plate and serve immediately either solo or over potatoes. I prefer solo when good, lean protein is on the menu. No need to dilute the plate with simple carbs and starches....
My impressions? Well, I can't say that it had any sort of unusual flavor. It (more or less) tasted exactly like any other piece of caribou muscle fiber I've eaten, which is plenty. What was unusual was the texture. It was very dense with an extremely fine grain. In some ways, very much like liver in that regard although it was a bit tougher and chewier. It was a perfect match for the flavor of a caramelized sweet onion and the saltiness of brown gravy. It was delicious and doesn't deserve the derision many cast upon it. Neither would I elevate it beyond it's true status- far from a delicacy, I'd simply take backstrap or tenderloin any day as would most folks but if you wind up with the odd venison heart there is no need to leave it with the gut pile as it makes for a acceptable and particularly memorable meal.