Is there anything more satisfying, more American, or more delicious than a burger? I think not.
When posed with the choice "Burger or X," burger wins nine times out of ten.
The question that I get most from friends looking to host a decent BBQ is - What makes a good wild game burger? Well, a few things. Scroll down for recipes if you're already a burger master.
The Fat Ratio - It's important to have enough fat in your burger to keep it from drying up and falling apart. That biblical first bite that oozes with succulent juices and flavor won't happen if you don't get your fat ratio right. For the best burgers, nothing below 15% fat content will do. More on fat ratios in venison burgers in a moment.
The Bun - don't skimp out on your burger-loving friends and family, invest in a decent bun. Most buns that you get in a bag at the grocery store are tepid little spongecakes that can't take the beastliness of your burger. Walk right past those sissies to the bakery. You're looking for a freshly baked kaiser roll, or something of the like. If you ask the baker, they'll slice them for you, but make sure the top is not bigger than the bottom. Nothing looks worse than a fat-laden bottom bun swimming in a pool of itself on the plate.
The Grill - Hot. Flip your burgers once. Don't shuffle it around like a hockey puck on some lukewarm tinker toy. Fire up the charcoal and blaze it medium-rare. DO NOT smash it with a spatula. The meat gods will not forgive you.
The Toppings - Cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato. Boom. Done. That's the classic. Wanna get fancy with caramelized onions, bacon and bleu cheese? No problem, but don't forget that we're talking about a BURGER here, and that burger is made of meat. Don't build a fortress around it.
The Meat - Speaking of meat, sub-par ground meat is a travesty. It's so easy to get quality ground meat. Don't buy it in a tube, don't buy it in a tray, don't buy it frozen, don't buy it on sale. Go to your butcher. Seriously! They're awesome people who sling meat around for a living, why wouldn't you want to know that guy/girl? Getting a quality butcher as your friend pays back tenfold. Now, since we're talking about a VENISON burger, let's get to that kind of meat.
What you NEED to know when making a venison burger:
Venison meat alone doesn't have enough fat - You need to add it in. If you're grinding your own meat at home, add in animal fat like pork. If you stop by your friendly butcher, ask for any pork fat they have and don't need. Most will give it to you free, or at a low cost. Another option is bacon. Some grocers carry "bacon trimmings," and this is the best bang for your buck bacon-wise if you're adding it to something else. If you've had your venison processed for you, make sure to note how much fat was added into the ground meat.
Venison cooks differently than a ground beef burger - But only a little bit, and it's because of the aforementioned lack of fat. Listen to you meat. Once the sizzle has subsided flip the burger patties (about 3-4 minutes).
Don't over-season the meat - This should be obvious, but don't go overboard with seasoning your venison burger meat. A little bit of salt and pepper should do just fine.
Now that's we've got the basics covered, it's up to you to successfully hunt a deer. Once that's accomplished, let's get into some all-star venison burger recipes.
1. Venison Burger with Bleu Cheese and Crispy Shallots
There are two things in life that taste good with just about anything - cheese and onions. Shallots, a cousin of garlic and onion, are delicious in any form, but especially when they're fried to up to crispy perfection. Don't even get me started on bleu cheese; even though it stinks to high heaven I can never pull myself away from its creamy, flavorful texture. I know I've preached simplicity, but this recipe nails it on specialty ingredients while still keeping things relatively simple.
Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger. No matter where you go, you can bet you're going to see a cheeseburger on the menu. A venison cheeseburger, on the other hand, is much rarer a find and twice as delicious. If classic flavors are your current calling, this recipe will set you right up for success. Focusing on fresh ingredients like arugula in place on lettuce and with a generous helping of pickles, this is a great update to an American classic.
3. Bacon Cheddar Venison Burgers with Caramelized Onions and BBQ Mayo
Woof, that recipe title of a mouthful. You'll want to get a mouthful of this burger though, and many more after that. The great thing about onions is they're so flexible in cooking. Caramelized onions are one of my top 5 toppings to add to just about anything, and with the addition of a BBQ mayo, not too sweet and not too creamy, this recipe makes a uniquely delectable burger you're sure to enjoy.
Ever had a stuffed burger? It's not a bad idea, it just needs to have the right execution. This recipe follows my preferred method of stuffing burgers, and comes with some tasty toppings I haven't seen coupled with venison before. Highly intrigued by the addition of truffle here. Would it drown out the taste of the venison? Depends on how heavy handed you are. Regardless, we can see that this recipe has the makings of a winner.
Everything is better when it's miniature, burgers included. These simple little beauties will have your party guests searching for more as they scarf each one down. With only a few ingredients to deal with, this may be our new go-to party finger food.
Roasted peppers are right under onions on my top 5 toppings list, so rounding out our top burger recipes is this beauty. Nestled between the roasted pepper and some mushrooms, your venison for the recipe also contains a 'secret' ingredient of sorts - breadcrumbs. The addition of fresh sage also takes the natural flavors of the venison to the next level. This recipe may be tied with #1 as our favorite on this list.