I have always said that if you want people to try new foods you have to package it in a familiar way. Most people won't eat tongue of any sort because its tongue. But if you slow cook a tongue long enough it will shred up beautifully and make wonderful tacos, and who doesn't love tacos. Everyone is willing to try a taco made with tongue because it looks like something they know. The same could be said about burgers. It really should come as no surprise that the most popular post on this site is for venison burgers. Most everyone loves a good burger, not everyone likes venison but if you can make a really good venison burger we might be able to convert a few more people to the wild side.
Because venison burgers are the most popular post on this site I figured it would be in my best interest if I came up with a few different kinds of burgers. So, I am going to try to create 5-6 different kinds of venison burger and post them on here over the next several months. My first burger was made with the intention of just making a great venison burger that wasn't dry and gamey like a hockey puck. I think I succeeded at that, so this burger is going to be on the same level as that only this one is a little simpler to make. I really like the was juniper compliments venison so I have been wanting to make a juniper flavored venison burger for a while. What makes these burgers interesting though, is that they are baked in the oven not fried in a pan or grilled.
I like this method because it is so easy and also because it allows the burgers to cook in their own juices and keeps them from drying out. You don't have to bake them if you don't want to you can still mix the spices with the fat and venison and make patties and fry them in a pan if you want to just don't over cook them it only takes 2-3 minutes per side to cook a 1/3 pound venison burger. Because venison is so lean you need to be very careful how you cook it or you need to add fat to it. I was reading Hank Shaw's blog HAGC and he recommends using bacon ends to grind into your venison. you can usually find bacon ends at you grocery store and they usually aren't to expensive. I haven't tried it yet but the next time I am grinding venison I think I am going to give it a go.
When I was making these burgers I didn't have any bacon ends but I did have salt pork so I used a 1/4 pound of salt pork with 1 pound of venison. I like my burgers a little on the fatty side. For the seasonings I kept these very simple; salt, pepper, garlic, red wine and juniper that's all. I like to grind up the juniper, black pepper and salt with a mortar and pestle until very fine then I add the garlic and it makes kind of a paste, then I can just mix the paste right into the venison. I always add a little red wine into the mixture as well.
These little sliders turned out amazingly, they were packed with flavor and juicy as hell. My wife had picked up some little pretzel bun and we had some left over Kings Hawaiian rolls that made great buns for these burgers. Once the grilling season returns to Minnesota, which might not be until June I would like to try these on the grill. Give them a try and let me know what you think.
1 pound ground venison
1/4 pound salt pork (or bacon ends or pork fat)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons red wine
1. put the juniper, black pepper and salt in a mortar and pestle and pulverize into a fine powder, add the garlic cloves and mash into a paste.
2. add the paste and the red wine to the venison and pork fat and mix thoroughly
3. spread the meat onto a well greased baking dish or cookie sheet
4. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, remove cover with cheese and then bake for 7-8 more minutes
5. Let them rest for a few minutes before cutting and then cut them up to whatever size you would like.
This made 8 little sliders that were about a 1/2 inch thick.