Ground venison makes totally superb burgers, but there is a secret to it. Deer meat tends to be exceptionally lean. Without the fat, burgers usually fall apart rather than sticking together as patties. As strange as it may sound, the secret is to add some beef or pork fat to the meat, and to use eggs to increase the ability for the meat to stay together. It is best to add the additional fat as the venison is being ground, however it can be added later to the ground venison and it should be mixed in well. You should note that the venison burger will still normally be healthier than beef hamburger, even with the added fat. It doesn’t take a huge amount of fat, either. A half a pound of fat to 10 pounds of venison would still be about 95 percent lean.
The following recipe assumes that the ground venison has already had a small amount of fat added and blended in, at a rate of 5 percent fat to meat content. This is still quite a bit leaner than most store-bought hamburger. Additionally, this is a base recipe. You can add other ingredients as you see fit and according to what you have on hand.
Ingredients (makes four good sized burgers)
- 2 pounds of ground venison
- 6 raw eggs
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of steak sauce
- 1/2 pound shredded cheese (optional)
1. Mix all the ingredients in with the ground venison, including the cheese if it is being used, and mix thoroughly. This can be easily accomplished by using your hand to mix everything up.
2. Separate the ground meat mixture into fourths, form each into a ball and then flatten them out on waxed paper until they are about a half inch thick. This will give you four large patties.
3. Fry the patties over medium heat, carefully turning the patties every five minutes or so. Note that they will probably still try to fall apart, so take care when turning them. The patties are done when the juices flowing from the burgers no longer have any pinkness.
4. Serve the ground venison burgers as you would a normal hamburger; on a toasted bun with your favorite condiments.
You can add an additional slice of cheese to the top of the ground venison burgers just before they are done, if you like a lot of cheese. Cooked bacon also goes great on these ground venison burgers, or you might try a slice of ham. Fresh tomatoes and leaf lettuce are fantastic on these burgers, too.
When we make ground venison burgers, we usually use the large buns rather than the small ones. The meat shrinks during cooking, but the burgers tend to get plumper so the larger buns help prevent too much ‘overhang’ of meat to bun.
We also enjoy these with homemade french fries and onion rings, using a beer batter for the latter and deep frying them.
This is a fantastic way of using venison and the ground venison burgers are both tasty and filling. Especially if you have French fries and/or onion rings, this can be a full meal. Not many people can eat more than one. This recipe can even be modified for ground beef, though the flavor isn’t quite as good as it is when using ground venison.
We like them so much that we have these burgers at least once for each time we are successful in bagging our deer.
Images by Jeremy Keith