All you hunters out there—or those lucky enough to enjoy the perks of being friends with one—this post is for you. I’m guessing you’re sick of dry, boring venison burgers, and I’m here to tell you it’s possible to have a tender, juicy venison burger—really, it is!
My parents are funeral directors, and several of their employees are hunters. (I’m not quite sure of the connection between working at a funeral home and hunting, but there must be one. Dead stuff? … I digress.) One year my mom asked one of the guys if she could have all of the processed meat from one of his kills, and we’ve been receiving one very large shipment of venison meat each Christmas ever since, complete with venison steaks, roasts, backstraps, cased sausages, summer sausages, breakfast links, and ground venison. Basically my mom has more meat than she knows what to do with, and half of it sits in the freezer at the funeral home because we have no room for it in our home freezer. Each spring I step in and ask for my share of the treasure trove, and my mom gladly hands over packages after packages of the frozen goodies, which I promptly store in a cooler and drive back to Chicago to share with my friends.
For those who have never had it, venison is a very lean, somewhat gamey meat reminiscent of beef. I’ve discovered the secret to keeping ground venison moist and delicious, without being too gamey. Are you ready for this top-secret ingredient?
It’s … sour cream, or plain yogurt if you so chose. Either way, it’s the ingredient that keeps the meat moist and adds a tangy je ne said quois to your hard-won ground venison. Serve it with potato wedges, broccoli, and an ice-cold brew. We’ve been loving Two Brother’s Cane & Abel, a hoppy red rye that tastes way, way better than it sounds. Give it a shot!
So, now that I have all this venison, what should I do with it? I’d love to hear your ideas and recipes!
Ground Venison Burgers
This recipe is adapted from one by Jerry Honeyager that appeared on Allrecipes.com. It serves 6 to 8, depending on how big you make the patties. Don’t be scared of the lime aioli—it’s delicious, I promise! Click here to download a copy of this recipe.
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. grated lime peel
1/3 c. finely chopped onion
2 tsp. cumin
2–3 Tbs. sour cream
2 Tbs. finely chopped jalapeno
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds ground venison
Hamburger buns, split
Slices of Colby-Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
Make aioli. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, mustard and lime peel. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Make patties. In a bowl, combine the onions, yogurt, jalapeno, cumin, salt and pepper, and meat and mix well. Shape the meat mixture into eight patties.
Cook burgers. Cook burgers on an oiled griddle, pan, or grill until the meat is no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes, flipping occasionally. Add the cheese during last minute of cooking so it melts on the burger. I like to cover the burgers with a lid while they cook so they cook more evenly and quickly. A lid also helps the cheese melt more quickly. Serve the cheeseburgers on buns slathered with the aioli.