Raw jerky made from our grass fed lamb or goat hearts might not be your first choice for your hiking bag, but it’s a great treat for your dog.
At it’s core, dried meat and jerky is really a beautiful thing, a healthy, shelf-stable protein that will last for a long time without any sort of work or input. Unfortunately whats on the shelves now often includes excess sugar, corn syrup, and other flavorings, that, as well as being unnecessary for preservation, detract from the nutrition.
Being one of the first animals domesticated by man, dogs have no doubt shared dried meat with us on our journey as a species, even long before before the agricultural revolutions 10,000 years ago. It’s easy to imagine humans and canines eating dried meat together, especially after a successful hunt aided by a dog’s keen sense of smell and natural hunting intuition. That meat, either sundried or slowly smoked and cooked from being hung near a fire, during times of scarcity, could literally mean the difference between life and death.
That type of scenario, and the special relationship between man and dog, is part of the inspiration for our grass-fed lamb or goat heart jerky, a recipe that is so easy to make, it almost needs no explanation. There’s a lot going on in the recipe that may not be apparent at first glance though. For example, heart, and only heart, or other, firm internal organs like spleen are used here for their nutrient density and structure. Liver and kidneys contain too much water to dehydrate well, and can start to break down during the drying process, although they could be cooked, and then dried, if you like. Regular slices of meat could easily be used, but, predators generally eat the nutrient-dense organs of prey first, so we use them to try and keep things as close as possible to a dog’s natural diet, leaving it unseasoned as well.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Founder of the website Forager Chef, he’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at Forager Chef.
- To make slicing the heart easier, they can be frozen for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing. Slice the hearts with a sharp knife into thin slices.
- Put the slices on a non-stick baking sheet or dehydrator tray, and dehydrate on high (145F or greater) until completely dried, 10 hours. Alternately, if no dehydrator is available, the heart slices can be baked on the lowest possible setting until dried, with the oven door left ajar until cooked and dry.
- When the slices are completely cracker dry, put them in an air tight container in a cool dry place.
- The heart jerky will last 6 months in a pantry, or 12 months under refrigeration as long as it’s in an air tight container.