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How to Cook Your Gut Pile

Nose-to-tail eating is, like hunting, about encountering the wilderness in all its visceral glory, and it's about the wild adventure lying at the big red heart of carnivorousness.

DRAWING THE LINE: ARE THERE LIMITS TO NOSE-TO-TAIL EATING?
Apart from CWD concerns, not especially — it all depends on your taste buds and the amount of prep work you're willing to do. I've heard tales of venison chitterlings and Rocky Mountain oysters (souped-up names, respectively, for the intestines and testicles), but I've never tried them, which is due more to a lack of cooking ambition than to any qualms on my part.

Harold W. Webster's The Complete Venison Cookbook contains a recipe for venison "mouffle," which he defines as the "loose covering around the nose and lips of deer." Even for me, though, that's vaguely unappetizing, and I must confess, mouffle sounds suspiciously like a French dessert. Henderson, the dean of whole-beast eating, shies away from cooking lungs. "They're not something that you can do a whole lot with, though that could just be a flaw in my cooking," he says. Yet there's only one organ he absolutely refuses to cook: the penis. "I just don't think," he says dryly, "that it would make a great lunch."

WHAT NOT TO EAT
If deer in your area are known to carry chronic wasting disease you might want to back off from full-blown nose-to-tail eating. Though the risk of contracting the human variant of the illness is low (and scientists are still unsure if food-borne transmission of the disease-carrying prions is possible), it's best to take precautions. First and foremost, don't shoot or eat any deer that appears sick. The brains (despite their tastiness), eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen, and lymph nodes are all off-limits. Of the remaining parts and organs, only two should be avoided for CWD safety: the shanks and bones, due to the possibility of infected prions in the marrow. Wear rubber gloves and bone out the meat.

Comments (22)

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from shootlikeawoman wrote 5 years 14 weeks ago

Someday I will eat at Fergus Henderson's restaurant in London. Crunchy pig tails--how can you beat that? Did you know that duck tongues are delicious parboiled, marinated in soy, ginger, sugar and sesame oil, then steamed? Save up your duck tongues in the freezer, then when you have a bunch, give 'em a try!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blind Scud wrote 5 years 14 weeks ago

Strangest thing I've ever eaten is pig's snout. It was served on a bun and smothered with bbq sauce. It was very crunchy and tasty. I've heard that deer heart is delicious. One of these days I'll have to try it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from timmy2bears wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

This isn't strange (like duck tongues--yech!), but I almost always eat the heart and liver of the deer I kill. Heart is really delicious and deserves special treatment at a special meal, but the best way to eat a liver is grilled over the coals of a fire, high on the mountain next to the buck you just killed. A little iron to stiffen your legs for the drag back to camp.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

I sing a little ditty each season to the ones I hunt with. It is "Save your Heart for me"!
I eat them with stews, pickled, or just sauteed in butter with onions and garlic.
As for the liver, no thanks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Smitty77 wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

I understand how in the old country every part of the animal had to be used. But eating liver or kidneys does not appeal to me. These organs are pretty much filters and I do not consider them healthy. Either way what one eats is their own buiseness and not mine. I respect it.

I have heard eating the heart of a deer is very tasty. I would be more than willing to try one if only I could get one that was intact.

I have the utmost respect for the game I pursue. I thank the lord for every animal I harvest and don't consider leaving the gut pile for the coyotes a bad thing. I also don't bring the deer back to camp with the vitals still inside. I think dressing the deer in the field right after the kill is one of the most important steps to good tasting venison. I've had to come back to find deer the next day and the meat didnt taste as good as it could.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 12 weeks ago

When I was a kid we ate lots of chicken feet. They were very delicious. My daughter in law is Chinese (from Singapore) she tells me the Chinese will eat just about anything thats protein including dogs and cats. At a Chinese resturant in London I saw intestines on the menu last Nov.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from stu_manji wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

It is illegal now, due to new child labor laws, but from the time I was in junior high until I graduated high school I worked in a local butcher shop. There was a man who came and collected the chicken feet from us once a week and sold them to other people. Del, until you wrote that, I thought it was a mythe and he was using them for something else.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from patricksholl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have eaten liver, beef and chicken, and rabbit kidneys. I do not like either of these organs and throw them out with the guts. My dislike has nothing to do with their functions but their taste. With birds I do usually save the gizzards and like them fried and as a base for gravies.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sb Wacker wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Good on you guys, american hunters have a poor reputation for wastefulness, I'm delighted to hear you say you'd like to try the 'ofally good' parts!
SBW

PS Hank is americas Fergus check out his blog
http://www.honest-food.net

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from woofbarkenarf wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

It's good to see that my upbringing wasn't so strange and uncommon as my wife says. Deer heart, and Liver were typically the first meals we made from a fresh kill. My father would get me to go down to the butchers place in deer and antelope season to collect the tongues, which he would cook in the crockpot or a dutch oven. These were all good eating. Even had some calf brains in with some scrambled eggs once and enjoyed it.

What I was taught by all of this is that you should appreciate the food in front of you for what it is, and not what you wish it to be.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tourneyking734 wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

one time we told a city boy that he was eating a cut of meat from a deer and it really was moose heart! He liked it till we told him what it was

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from s-kfry wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I think I will leave it for the coyotes and have the warm feeling that I have contibuted to the circle of life.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 5 years 2 days ago

I'm gonna try some deer heart this fall. I'll even have some liver, though I detest beef liver. Hey, if I don't like it, my dog's sure will!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter Savage wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

i have eaten deer heart and liver the night of a kill all my life . in my eyes it is some of best eating there is on the animal . and don't even get me started on a small black bears liver , my 12 year old son love's it as well

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hoveysmith wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Check out the recipes in the books Crossbow Hunting (Stackpole, 2006) and Backyard Deer Hunting: From deer to dinner for pennies per pound (AuthorHouse, 2009). These include items like Dear Heart soup (Pun intended. The author claims he wooed his wife with it.) as well as recipes for ground meat dishes and making sausage. Both books take the reader through the meat-preperation steps as well as cooking.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from GiantWhitetails wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

i wish i could have some deer hearts and livers right about now.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from yellowtail3 wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

hmmm... girlfriend tells me venison liver is good. I think i may repent of my habit of leaving the entire gut pile in the woods, and try some next nov...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from snapperhunter wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

def going to try the heart this season

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from snapperhunter wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

def going to try the heart this season

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from TXBucksnort wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

no way, no how, am I eating guts. Yuuuuuuuuuck!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cranky Canauck wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

THe moose we kill we save the heart and nose for the indian lady who lives on the lake she says no liver,that says it all for me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ray cummings wrote 23 weeks 6 days ago

The guy who said there isn`t much you can do with the lungs was wrong. I grew up on pork lungs (when you could still get them from the butcher shop)and love them. When I began hunting (63 years ago) I took neck shots whenever possible to save the lungs on my deer. I like them almost as well as the steaks. All you do is start at the bottom and slice them about 1/4 inch thick until you get to the wind pipe. Simply dredge them in flour, pepper, and maybe garlic powder and fry them. You can salt them to taste after they are cooked. I cook the heart the same way. The liver is best when cooked with slices of apple.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from hoveysmith wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

Check out the recipes in the books Crossbow Hunting (Stackpole, 2006) and Backyard Deer Hunting: From deer to dinner for pennies per pound (AuthorHouse, 2009). These include items like Dear Heart soup (Pun intended. The author claims he wooed his wife with it.) as well as recipes for ground meat dishes and making sausage. Both books take the reader through the meat-preperation steps as well as cooking.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from GiantWhitetails wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

i wish i could have some deer hearts and livers right about now.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from timmy2bears wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

This isn't strange (like duck tongues--yech!), but I almost always eat the heart and liver of the deer I kill. Heart is really delicious and deserves special treatment at a special meal, but the best way to eat a liver is grilled over the coals of a fire, high on the mountain next to the buck you just killed. A little iron to stiffen your legs for the drag back to camp.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sb Wacker wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Good on you guys, american hunters have a poor reputation for wastefulness, I'm delighted to hear you say you'd like to try the 'ofally good' parts!
SBW

PS Hank is americas Fergus check out his blog
http://www.honest-food.net

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from woofbarkenarf wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

It's good to see that my upbringing wasn't so strange and uncommon as my wife says. Deer heart, and Liver were typically the first meals we made from a fresh kill. My father would get me to go down to the butchers place in deer and antelope season to collect the tongues, which he would cook in the crockpot or a dutch oven. These were all good eating. Even had some calf brains in with some scrambled eggs once and enjoyed it.

What I was taught by all of this is that you should appreciate the food in front of you for what it is, and not what you wish it to be.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tourneyking734 wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

one time we told a city boy that he was eating a cut of meat from a deer and it really was moose heart! He liked it till we told him what it was

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter Savage wrote 4 years 46 weeks ago

i have eaten deer heart and liver the night of a kill all my life . in my eyes it is some of best eating there is on the animal . and don't even get me started on a small black bears liver , my 12 year old son love's it as well

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from yellowtail3 wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

hmmm... girlfriend tells me venison liver is good. I think i may repent of my habit of leaving the entire gut pile in the woods, and try some next nov...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from snapperhunter wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

def going to try the heart this season

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from snapperhunter wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

def going to try the heart this season

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cranky Canauck wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

THe moose we kill we save the heart and nose for the indian lady who lives on the lake she says no liver,that says it all for me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shootlikeawoman wrote 5 years 14 weeks ago

Someday I will eat at Fergus Henderson's restaurant in London. Crunchy pig tails--how can you beat that? Did you know that duck tongues are delicious parboiled, marinated in soy, ginger, sugar and sesame oil, then steamed? Save up your duck tongues in the freezer, then when you have a bunch, give 'em a try!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blind Scud wrote 5 years 14 weeks ago

Strangest thing I've ever eaten is pig's snout. It was served on a bun and smothered with bbq sauce. It was very crunchy and tasty. I've heard that deer heart is delicious. One of these days I'll have to try it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

I sing a little ditty each season to the ones I hunt with. It is "Save your Heart for me"!
I eat them with stews, pickled, or just sauteed in butter with onions and garlic.
As for the liver, no thanks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Smitty77 wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

I understand how in the old country every part of the animal had to be used. But eating liver or kidneys does not appeal to me. These organs are pretty much filters and I do not consider them healthy. Either way what one eats is their own buiseness and not mine. I respect it.

I have heard eating the heart of a deer is very tasty. I would be more than willing to try one if only I could get one that was intact.

I have the utmost respect for the game I pursue. I thank the lord for every animal I harvest and don't consider leaving the gut pile for the coyotes a bad thing. I also don't bring the deer back to camp with the vitals still inside. I think dressing the deer in the field right after the kill is one of the most important steps to good tasting venison. I've had to come back to find deer the next day and the meat didnt taste as good as it could.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 12 weeks ago

When I was a kid we ate lots of chicken feet. They were very delicious. My daughter in law is Chinese (from Singapore) she tells me the Chinese will eat just about anything thats protein including dogs and cats. At a Chinese resturant in London I saw intestines on the menu last Nov.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from stu_manji wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

It is illegal now, due to new child labor laws, but from the time I was in junior high until I graduated high school I worked in a local butcher shop. There was a man who came and collected the chicken feet from us once a week and sold them to other people. Del, until you wrote that, I thought it was a mythe and he was using them for something else.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from patricksholl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have eaten liver, beef and chicken, and rabbit kidneys. I do not like either of these organs and throw them out with the guts. My dislike has nothing to do with their functions but their taste. With birds I do usually save the gizzards and like them fried and as a base for gravies.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from s-kfry wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I think I will leave it for the coyotes and have the warm feeling that I have contibuted to the circle of life.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 5 years 2 days ago

I'm gonna try some deer heart this fall. I'll even have some liver, though I detest beef liver. Hey, if I don't like it, my dog's sure will!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ray cummings wrote 23 weeks 6 days ago

The guy who said there isn`t much you can do with the lungs was wrong. I grew up on pork lungs (when you could still get them from the butcher shop)and love them. When I began hunting (63 years ago) I took neck shots whenever possible to save the lungs on my deer. I like them almost as well as the steaks. All you do is start at the bottom and slice them about 1/4 inch thick until you get to the wind pipe. Simply dredge them in flour, pepper, and maybe garlic powder and fry them. You can salt them to taste after they are cooked. I cook the heart the same way. The liver is best when cooked with slices of apple.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TXBucksnort wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

no way, no how, am I eating guts. Yuuuuuuuuuck!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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