There’s absolutely nothing better than a simple, classic venison burger with lettuce, tomato and pickle topped with crispy bacon slices for good measure. While there are many hunters that enjoy their harvest it seems way too many think that they have to smother venison with lots of spices or sauces and this works great with a lot of recipes. My challenge to you with this recipe is to forego the sauces and spices for once and enjoy the awesome flavor that venison provides. Now I’m not saying go bland here just season your venison the same way you would a beef burger and see how you like it. I want to list a few good tips for getting the most out of your venison burger without it falling apart or drying out the two problems that seem to worry most cooks trying to make a venison burger.
PREPARING YOUR VENISON BURGER
The first step to a good venison burger is preparation. If you already have your venison ground up the biggest obstacle is to keep the meat together throughout the cooking process. Venison burgers tend to fall apart when you flip them, but there are a couple ways to overcome this. Venison is a very lean meat and therefore dry and this is the main reason venison burgers fall apart on the grill. Mixing sausage is a great way to keep it all together and also adding a little fat to the burger will make it juicier. You can add your favorite breakfast sausage to the venison. It doesn't take much to hold it all together and retain all that great venison flavor.
If you want to get the most venison flavor possible add a few eggs as a binding agent. Adding four egg yolks to a pound and a half of venison works great. Beat the yolks in a bowl before adding them to the ground venison along with salt and pepper and mix it up well with your hands or a potato smasher. The egg yolks should be thoroughly mixed into the meat for best results. The egg will help bind the burger together and will also add flavor. You can use the whole egg, but the egg whites will add a little toughness to the burger while the yolks give you a more tender less rubbery texture. These are just a couple ways to prepare your ground venison for a more enjoyable cooking experience.
COOKING VENISON BURGERS
Cooking venison burgers are a little different from cooking regular beef burgers in that even with the above tricks to hold the venison together, you still have to be careful when cooking the burgers to help maintain their cohesion. Try to leave the patties in one spot and not shuffled around and flipped the way regular burgers often do. Venison is a delicacy and should be shown a little more love on the grill.
One of the best ways to keep your burgers together is to only flip them once. This takes a little patience and experience goes a long way. You want the burger to cook half way through before the flip so you can finish it with a single flip. Never press your spatula down on your burger this just pushes all of the juices out of the meat and up in smoke. You want to keep all the juices you can inside your venison burger.
If you cook wild game then you have probably read or heard it a thousand times, but I’ll say it here again. “Do not overcook your venison!” Cooking venison too long will only dry it out and lose all those flavors that reside in the juice. When done correctly, you will be amazed how juicy venison really is. Medium rare is the best, but if you just can’t do the red in the middle take it up to medium but just barely. The burger will cook a couple more minutes after leaving the heat and with a little practice you can get your venison burger to medium doneness without sacrificing juiciness.
1 1/2 pounds ground venison
1/2 pound of crispy bacon strips
4 egg yolks
salt & pepper
PUTTING YOUR VENISON BURGER TOGETHER
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground venison, egg yolks and salt & pepper with your hands making sure the egg yolks get mixed throughout the venison. Get your grill or griddle hot and ready. Pat out the desired size patties and place them gently on your cooking surface. If you are using a grill watch for flare ups as this can over cook your burger before you know it, so keep a spray bottle handy.
Cook your burger on the one side until about half way cooked through then gently turn it to finish cooking on the other. The time will vary depending on thickness, but a good rule of thumb is about 3 minutes to a side on a hot surface. Remember that venison is best prepared hot and fast, most of the time.
Now that your venison burger has cooked, set them aside to rest a few minutes while you prepare your bun with the classic burger toppings and a couple slices of crispy bacon enjoy your classic venison burger.