Cooking venison burgers in the same way you would cook a beef burger is easiest way to ruin this delicate meat. Venison -- which is any wild antlered animal such as deer -- is a very lean alternative to more common meats. When ground up for burgers, venison winds up dry and crumbly if it is not properly prepared. Following proper preparation techniques and cooking tips will turn your ground venison into juicy, tasty burgers.
Ground venison becomes very dry when cooked if fat is not added to it. Adding at least 20 per cent fat to the minced meat is recommend to create moist, juicy burgers, according to the Field and Stream outdoor website. Several recipes call for 85.1gr of ground pork fatback to be added to every 0.454kg. of ground venison. You can also add beef fat instead, but pork has a more neutral taste and less saturated fat. Deer fat is generally not recommended because of its pungent taste. However, some whitetail deer in controlled environments may have clean-tasting fat on them, so it depends on where you get the ground venison from.
Binding and Moistening
In addition to adding fat, adding ingredients such as breadcrumbs not only helps to stretch the ground venison, it also helps to hold the meat together. Venison is susceptible to falling apart on the grill, which is why adding binding ingredients is so important. Eggs, uncooked oatmeal and even grated potatoes are all solid binding options that also add moisture. For additional moisture, add a flavourful sauce of your choice, such as barbecue sauce. For more flavour season the ground venison with salt, pepper, and other seasonings based on your taste preferences.
Keep the patties less than 1-inch thick. Venison is very lean, and the outside will cook quickly, leaving the insides raw if you make the patties too thick. To form the patties, work with wet or lightly-oiled hands. Roll a chunk of the ground venison in your hands to form a small ball that will fit into your palm. Do not pack the patty too tightly, or it will result in a dense, heavy burger. Flatten the patty gently so that it is about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick for best results. Refrigerate the patties for at least 30 minutes to help them hold their shape.
The grill should be clean and lightly greased with oil before adding the venison burgers. The USDA requires ground game meat such as venison to be cooked to at least 71.1 degrees Celsius to ensure that all the bacteria has been killed. Cook the patties for about 6 to 8 minutes per side before using a meat thermometer to check the precise temperature. Keep a close watch on the venison burgers to avoid the outside charring too soon. If you are using a charcoal grill over fire, don't allow the fire to touch the patties. Remove the patties immediately after it reaches the required temperature to avoid overcooking.
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- WH Foods: Venison
- Field and Stream; A Better Burger -- Five Tips for Making Ground Venison Patties; Hank Shaw; December 2009
- Merry Mondays: Venison Burgers
- Bon Appetit: How to Shape a Hamburger Paty
- Hunt Fish Cook; Chipotle Venison Burger; Sept 2007
- USDA Food and Safety Inspection: Game from Farm to Table