It is October.
To some of you this may mean gourds, witches, black cats and all things pumpkin. For those of us living in the rural areas of Kentucky, October means one thing: Deer Hunting Season is here.
Venison is deer meat. Here in Kentucky we all celebrate the hormone-free, organic, non-gmo, FREE food that comes from our land.
Grinding, preparing and cooking venison meat brings me the same kind of giddy joy I get from canning my blackberries and preserving the fruits of my garden. Yes, Please!
These are the best when it comes to venison burgers.
Venison burgers are notoriously game-y, dry, and they smell funny when you cook them.
I have some experience when it comes to preparing venison. I have been cooking it for, well, for as long as I can remember.
If you know a few secrets, not only will your venison be incredible; no one will know they are eating a deer unless you tell them.
To prevent ground venison from tasting like it was running through the fields yesterday you need 2 critical things:
- No silver seam
The first step is to get all the “silver seam” off of the meat. Silver seam is kinda white and shiny and runs along the venison meat. It is pretty tough to deal with and will make your venison burgers taste like…. venison. This is not what I want. Removing the silver seam is no big deal, it’s just that most processors don’t take much time to do a thorough job.
When we send our deer to a processor, the ground venison is always gamey. When we grind it ourselves, it never is. I am a firm believer one of the reasons for this is because of the time we take to remove all that tissue.
The second step in creating the best venison burger you’ve ever eaten is to add some fat.
A little fat will convert it from wild & game-y to tender & juicy.
Deer are sleek, lean animals. They are naturally low-fat and absolutely, incredibly healthy for you. Unfortunately, low-fat can also mean low-flavor. Not always, but in this case we are going to add some
You do not want the fat that came off the deer you shot. Deer don’t have much fat to speak of and if you happen to bag an overweight buck you do not want to eat his fat. Venison fat will be gamey and unappetizing.
We’re going to need some good ‘ol, tasty, juicy fat. The kind that says, “OINK!”
This is the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Actually, this is a huge hunk of fat. We raise our own meat on our homestead (more on raising beef here; more on raising pigs here). This means I have freezers full of meat, bones, necks, tongues, livers, hearts, oxtails and fat.
When the butcher asks me if I want [insert random animal part here] I always say, “Yes!” I can figure out what to do with it later. After spending months and months raising our animals I want all of it. It is superbly handy to have 45 pounds of fat in your freezer.
I have tried beef fat (tallow) and pork fat (sometimes referred to as lard) in ground venison. Pork fat is the clear winner at our house.
Today we are using Pork fat that has not been rendered. If you render pork fat it becomes lard. To learn how to make lard (the easy, easy, easy way) go here.
For delicious ground-venison I add straight, un-rendered, cubed pork fat.
Why Pork fat?
- It doesn’t jam up the meat grinder
- It doesn’t leave an oily residue on the roof of my mouth
- It adds a nice porky flavor (think bacon burgers)
It is not a good idea to go to the grocer and buy pork fat or lard. Unless it is fresh, pastured, organic lard it will not be healthy for you to eat.
Dice the lard into cubes about the size of bouillon cubes.
Next dice your venison into hunks that will be happily accepted by your meat grinder. Notice the meat is trimmed clean and there is no silver seam.
DH is the official burger maker at our homestead. His work area includes giant bowls of venison and a cutting board covered in cubed pork fat. This is not an exact science. The goal is 15% fat 85% meat. DH sprinkles the cubed fat between the hunks of venison and shoves it through the grinder.
Perfectly marbled venison comes out the other end. Ta Da!
Bag it, label it and freeze it. Now you have spectacular ground-venison for anything: chili, sloppy joes, spaghetti or burgers.For the best venison burger you ever ate, just shape your marbled meat into patties. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the venison patties. Next, heat up your cast iron skillet (medium-high heat) and slap a big spoonful of lard into it (if you don’t have any lard, substitute bacon grease. Why you should save your bacon grease: here).
Once the lard is melted drop in your burgers and fry to perfection. 3-4 minutes per side does the trick around here. YUM!
Lard is amazing. It is full of vitamin D. It is high in good fat. It is low in bad fats. It is even stable at high temperatures. Believe it or not, homegrown, pastured lard is good for you.
Serve those awesome burgers to some happy, country kids!
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Ground venison is lean and healthy. This recipe adds fresh lard into the ground venison to get all the flavor and juiciness you want from a burger. So good you won't know you're eating deer!
To make Ground Venison:
Feed venison pieces into meat grinder. Evenly distribute roughly 15% cubed pork fat with the venison. Continue to add venison and fat into grinder. Perfectly marbled ground venison will pour out of your grinder.
To cook Burgers:
Shape ground venison into patties. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of burger.
Next, heat up your cast iron skillet (medium-high heat) and slap a big spoonful of lard into it (if you don’t have any lard, you can substitute bacon grease. Why you should save your bacon grease: here).
Once the lard is melted drop in your burgers and fry to perfection. 3-4 minutes per side does the trick around here.