For years my family has been indulging my unhealthy fantasies of someday becoming a professional hunter, chef, and writer (see Steven Rinella and his extensive collection of hunting and cooking books along with a TV show that features both). So it seems every birthday and Christmas I am given a wild game cookbook from someone. They are fantastic and I use them all the time but one problem they all seem to have, is that no one seems to know how to make a good burger. They all say the same thing, take the ground meat and shape it into patties and cook in the oven. To me thats the same as boiling a steak (no, I’m not talking about Sous-Vide), sure you can do it and its technically edible but you are really missing out. So here is my version of a proper venison burger. Please note that this recipe works well with any red meat. My dad showed me how to make these burgers years ago with beef, from there I made some adjustments, its a simple recipe to remember and I have used it while travelling to make friends more than once. Cooking on a barbecue works best, but I have baked them in an oven and a fried them on a stove top and they were just fine. I have never fed these burgers to someone and not had them seem overjoyed by them… unlike a few recipes of mine that I am still tweaking… thank you, Erin, for your patience.
The ingredients are all pretty forgiving and interchangeable with anything similar, its a hard recipe to mess up as long as you do not over spice it, that can make it salty.. but even then you can just drown it in ketchup. So you have no reason not to try this recipe.
You will need:
- 1 lb of ground venison (or any other red meat)
- 1/4 lb of bacon (this is not required if you are using a fattier meat such as beef)
- tortilla chips (tortilla chips work best but any kind of cracker, chip, croutons or shredded bread works)
- 1/2 of a medium sized onion
- one egg
- steak spice
- the softest buns you can find (I usually go with kaiser or onion buns)
- all the regular fixings for burgers: ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles, lettuce, onions, tomato etc
Step 1. Chop the bacon into as small of bits as possible usually about 1/4 to 1/2 inch squares. Typically I use the fattiest pieces of bacon from the pack, the purpose of the bacon is to add a bit of fat and grease to the venison for taste, texture, and making them hold together. Throw the chopped bacon in a large bowl with the full pound of venison. You can skip the bacon in the mix if you are using beef. I usually buy a full pound of bacon so that the remainder can be fried and used to top the burgers afterwards.
Step 2. Finely chop the 1/2 of the onion and add it to the bowl with the meat. I usually buy a whole onion and use half for in the burgers and then slice the other half to go on the burgers after the fact.
Step 3. Add an egg and a handful of tortilla chips to the bowl with the meat and onion. The egg and the chips work to hold the burger together, the chips also add a bit of flavour. This is also where I add some steak spice, make sure to use just a little as the chips make it salty and cooking the spices in the burgers really strengthens their flavour.
Step 4. Now mix all the ingredients with your hands, try to beak down the chips as much as possible and make sure all the other ingredients are evenly distributed
Step 5. Form the meat into equal sized patties, I usually make 6 so that it lines up with the number of buns I buy but the size isn’t super important as long as they are all close to the same size. Make sure to pack them as tight as you can.
Step 6. Place the burgers on the barbecue on medium heat. With my grill I find I have to flip them after about ten to fifteen minutes, they change colour a bit and the exposed chips will start to burn a little. Try to flip them only once or twice. After about 15 minutes on each side (every grill is different so dont hold me to this time) cut one in half and make sure it is cooked all the way through, typically that means no pink in the middle, however the bacon adds a bit of pink so go by texture and evenness of overall colour.. This is also the time to toast the buns and place some cheese on the burger so it melts nicely.
Step 7. Take the burgers off of the grill and let them cool for about five minutes (lets all be honest, I often skip this). Then put the patty on a bun top it with bacon and all the other fixings. Enjoy!
Step 8. Tell everyone where you go this great recipe!
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