Wild Recipes

Venison Heart Turnovers

Latest posts by Dustyn Carroll (see all)
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I have always enjoyed a good turnover or empanada. There are many variations and the main difference is how the dough is folded or prepared. Turnovers can be both sweet or savory depending on their filling, but I wanted to try and make one that is both. I was curious how this would work out due to the fact I absolutely love sweet Danish style turnovers, sticky flaky baklava as well as the hearty variants filled with meat such as lamb or beef that are on the other end of the taste spectrum. So how do you get the best of both worlds?

I wanted to make a flexible game dish that can be served as tapas or a full meal; the only difference is the size of the serving within the dough, matched to the correct sides. Often when on group hunts, I would be surprised how many hunters would discard the heart and liver of the deer. Venison liver is considered to have a stronger flavor than beef, but I always considered the heart to be delicious on most animals. I wanted to make a recipe with the heart to show other hunters that are on the fence an easy recipe that can be eaten as a meal, or put out as little appetizers when company is over.

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Venison Heart Turnovers

Recipe by Dustyn Carroll
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Course: Uncategorized


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  • 1 venison heart (avg between 1-2 lb)

  • Phyllo dough or puff pastry dough

  • 1 Egg yolk

  • ¼ white onion

  • ½ tsp minced garlic

  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

  • ¼ dehydrated pair (or substitute dried apple)

  • ¼ white onion

  • 1 ½ tbsp sorghum (can be substituted with figs, dates or raisins.)

  • Olive oil

  • Fresh cracked sea salt

  • Fresh ground black pepper

  • Wildflower honey

  • Sides:

  • Green beans

  • Mixed wild carrots

  • Wild rice and beans (if dish made to be strictly savory)


  • Mince the venison heart with either a food processor, a slap-chop, kitchen-aide grinder or any means you have to reduce the size of the meat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon and pear to the meat and mince further until it is fully mixed.
  • Lightly oil a cast iron skillet with olive oil and add the meat mix to the skillet and cook on medium (depending on your stove) for about 5-7 minutes until it starts to brown and there is no more pink, salt and pepper to your preference.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F for store bought puff pastry dough, homemade dough bake time may vary depending on thickness but shouldn’t by much.
  • You can either make your own phyllo dough or buy puff pastry dough from the store and roll out an area to cut circles out. The remainder can be re-folded and rolled out to make more. A round cookie cutter is preferred, however if you do not have one, a drinking glass or mason jar will work as well. The size of the circle will determine how much filling can be held, and consequently how many of these you can make. From one 1.5lb heart, I was able to make 16.
  • Place about a tablespoon worth of the venison filling into the center of each circle cut out and you will fold it in half pinching the edges together. I decided to make sure all of the circles were filled evenly before I started sealing them. Many of you have made perogies, dumplings and similar items and will know your comfort level of how fast you want to seal them. If they seem to dry out before you can seal it, just wet your fingers with water and they will get sticky again.
  • Last place in a baking sheet on parchment paper. Take the yolk from your egg and mix it with a little water then brush over all of the turnovers.
  • Place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the dough firms and turns golden brown.
  • Place four to five on a plate and serve with a side of green beans and drizzle some wildflower honey over to not only garnish the dish, but to compliment the sweet flavors of the pear, sorghum and cinnamon inside the turnover.

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Dustyn Carroll

Dustyn always had a love for adventure and fostered a love for hunting and fishing after his military career began. He found an appreciation of wild game meats through his co-workers and then jumped into the pursuit of wild meat wholeheartedly. Cooking and serving wild game to his family and friends has become pleasurable achievement which he looks forward to at every new journey.

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