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Mushroom Stuffed Braised Venison Hearts wrapped in Bacon

By MacLean Fraser


Heart for me is a gateway offal. Assuming you haven’t destroyed it by piercing it with a small amount of lead coated in copper at about 2,500 ft/sec I would fully recommend harvesting the heart and giving it a try.


Being a working muscle it is more like ‘meat’ and less like offal with a lightly gamey flavour and fine texture. When dealing with heart you can be pretty brutal with the trimming and grill it pink like a steak or you can be less brutal on the trimming and braise it low and slow until it’s tender.


Braised meat with mushrooms and bacon is a pretty classic combination and rightly so because it’s bloody delicious so I recommend you give it a try, spread the word and make the most of your kill.


Enough for 4 portions.



2 Venison Hearts
10 rashers streaky bacon
Butcher’s string


Mushroom Stuffing
1/2 Onion
3 Cl Garlic
1 Sprig rosemary
3 Sprigs thyme
200g Pork sausage (meat only)
1 Tbs Parsley
150g Mushrooms
1 Cup (55g) Breadcrumbs
1 Tsp Mixed dried herbs
1 Egg
Salt and pepper

Braising Sauce
1/2 Onion
1/2 Leek
1 Carrot
1 Celery stalk
2 Sprigs rosemary
1 Can beer (can use ale, draught, amber etc)
500ml Venison (or other brown stock) stock



For the mushroom stuffing: Finely dice the onion and crush the garlic. Finely chop the herbs and the mushrooms and then mix all together in a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Alternatively you can take all the ingredients and pulse in a food processor until everything is chopped and has come together. Divide into two and put aside for stuffing into the hearts.


For the venison heart: Open up the heart by cutting vertically through the chambers so you can un-roll the heart. Trim away any tubes and fibres and wash away and blood. I like to leave the fat on the outside and aren’t too particular with the trimming as we will be braising the meat which will break down and make tender any tough parts.


You can keep the trimmings to brown off with any of the vegetable trimmings and herb ends to make a rough braising stock. Lay out the bacon (5 pieces per heart) and then lay out the hearts on top of the bacon and place the mushroom mix divided equally on top of each of the hearts. Roll up the heart and bacon round the mushroom mix and then truss with the butcher’s string to keep the heart, mushroom mix and bacon together while it’s cooking.


For the braising: In a fry pan over a moderately high heat, pan fry the hearts with a little oil until the bacon is nicely browned on all sides and place in a roasting pan or Dutch oven. To make the braising sauce roughly chop up all the vegetables and brown off in the same fry pan then add to the pan along with the Venison hearts and the herbs.


Add the can of beer and the stock until the liquid level comes half way up the hearts topping up with extra water or stock if required. Place the lid on top or cover with baking paper and then tin foil and braise at 150C for 2.5hrs until tender.



Once the hearts are finished braising remove them from the liquid and set to one side to keep warm. Pass the braising liquid into a pot making sure to keep all the vegetables. Over a high heat reduce the pot of braising liquid until it has reduced by about half and thickened into a sauce. Cut and remove the string from the hearts and carve into slices.


Serve on some mashed potatoes or soft polenta along with the reserved vegetables and reduced sauce.


About MacLean

“I am a professional chef and amateur hunter. I have spent time hunting in most of the North Island ranges but do most of my hunting in the Tararua’s.


Working as a chef has sent me to several locations in the world and I have worked in New Zealand, Malaysia, Cook Islands and the Maldives.


I first started out hunting rabbits and possums with my old man when I was a kid before moving on to goats and deer as I grew older. As a chef I like to use the best produce available. Hunters when killing humanely and taking only what they need can end up cooking with not only the most ethically harvested meat but when dealt with properly, the best quality also.


I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from and how best not to waste it, and that’s why I think hunting and cooking marry so well together and that’s what I hope to promote and achieve through sharing the recipes and techniques we use to cook wild game professionally.”


MacLean Fraser 


MacLean Fraser,

Executive Chef,

Artisan Dining House,

Bolton Hotel,



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