Venison is unbeatable for gourmet burgers — trim off all the silver skin and get the right thickness to take it to the next level, says Cai ap Bryn. Serves four.
Everyone loves burgers and venison makes excellent ones, whichever deer species you use.
For a long time I struggled to find a really good recipe for venison burgers; the result was either too thick and dry or just a bit tasteless and forgettable. The trick is to keep it simple — all you need is good-quality mince and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
For this recipe for venison burgers, it’s well worth spending an extra bit of time trimming off as much sinew and silver skin as possible. This will take them from average BBQ food to next-level gourmet patties. Venison has next to zero fat in the meat, so the way you cook these is important. A lot of burger recipes will contain fat, but I’m not going to add any but will compensate for this with decent fillings. If you do like to have some fat you can add 15% beef fat to the mix. However, you really don’t need to — don’t overcook it, serve fresh and you will be fine.
If you have lean venison mince from your butcher, you can simply mix in the salt and pepper just before cooking — you wouldn’t want to season too far in advance as the salt will extract a lot of the moisture from the meat and you need to savour as much juiciness as possible.
The trick is to place the meat through a thoroughly sanitised meat grinder once, then add the seasoning and run it through once more. Mincing twice breaks down the meat, ensuring the patties will be tender and the seasoning mixed throughout.
Prior to cooking, you want to make these burgers as thin as possible. A thicker burger with this recipe equals a drier one, so it is important to loosely flatten each patty with your hand before placing them on to the griddle.
If you want to check if you have the right consistency and amount of seasoning, fry a tiny bit of the burger meat before cooking the patties — this will help you decide if you need to add more salt or pepper to your desired taste.
Recipe for venison burgers
You can cook these burgers on the barbecue, but make sure the grill is at target temperature before placing the burgers on it. It is vital to cook them fast to seal in the moisture and add colour.
Mix 1.5lb of lean venison mince with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper.
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix. You can make this days in advance, but let it get to room temperature before placing on the burger, so it won’t cool down too quickly.
- 1.5lb of lean venison shoulder (if you can’t get shoulder, haunch also works)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 4 slices of pancetta or streaky bacon
- 4 slices of swiss cheese
- 4 good-quality brioche burger buns
- crisp lettuce
- 2 beef steak tomatoes
- 3 large pickles, sliced burger sauce
- 4 tbps of mayonnaise
- 2 tbps of ketchup
- ¼ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp American mustard
- squeeze of lime
- tsp of chopped chives
- ¼ TSP cracked black pepper
- pinch of salt
1. Place a frying pan on the hob with
a dash of olive oil. It must be very hot to crisp the bacon and sear the patties.
2. Brown and crisp the pancetta or bacon in the pan, then put it in the oven to keep warm.
3. Split the seasoned mince into four equal parts, roll each into a ball and gently press flat. It doesn’t matter if your burger isn’t perfectly round, but it needs to under 1cm thick.
4. In the pan with the leftover pancetta fat, fry the patties for 2 minutes on one side at high heat, then flip over, place sliced Swiss cheese on top and cook for another 2 minutes. The burger should be cooked perfectly with the cheese melted on top — the internal temp should reach 70°C.
5. When you remove the burger to rest for a minute, place the brioche bun halves on to the hot pan for 10 to 20 seconds to toast — they can burn quickly. I like to add a knob of butter to the pan before, so it coats the inside of the bun at the same time as toasting.
6. Assemble your burger. I put burger sauce on the bottom brioche bun, then add the lettuce leaves, burger and cheese patty, pancetta or bacon and tomato, sliced pickle then burger sauce on the bottom of the top bun.
Serve with some nice home-made fries and a nice cold beer. Mine’s an IPA, thanks.