There’s nothing better than the Great American Hamburger. Here are five tips for making better burgers out of your ground deer, elk, or moose.
Patty Primer: The more you mess with your meat, the drier and tougher it becomes. This is especially true for burgers made from ground game. So handle things lightly when you’re making the patties and when you’re cooking them. Form patties quickly and flip only once during the cooking process. Any more and they’ll fall apart.
Leave an Impression: What you don’t want to end up with is a meatball, which is what happens when the proteins of ground venison tighten up and turn your flat patty into something resembling Tom Brady’s preferred touchdown-delivery device. To prevent this, stick your thumb into the top of the patty. The resulting indentation will give those protein strands somewhere to go, resulting in a perfectly formed hamburger patty
Bacon, Baby: Ground wild game needs a boost of fat, not just to hold things together, but also for a juicy bite. There are many options, but when it comes to making a burger patty, bacon trimmings (sold in boxed form often called Ends and Pieces) are the best for a serious flavor boost. Just be careful when seasoning your burgers as the bacon has enough salt already. Add about 15 to 20 percent of ground bacon to your ground venison.
The Better Bun: You guys know I’m not one to get too fancy (or trendy), but when it comes to burger buns, but I really like the brioche. The sweetness works well with a rich burger of game meat. A lot of people will take offense at this, and I am okay with that. Oh, and while I’m at it, this ain’t McDonald’s, so ditch the sesame seed bun. And you can keep your damn pretzel roll, too.
Say Cheese: American cheese—yes, American cheese, however fake it may be—the best. It melts better than any other cheese, and there’s just something about the flavor that is perfect on a burger. Swiss is a close second, especially if you’re adding mushrooms and good bleu cheese is perfectly acceptable. Both provolone and sharp cheddar sweat like Ndamukong Suh in the Miami heat and goat cheese is just wrong when used for anything but a croquette. (Okay, so sometimes I like fancy.)
Bonus Tip: In the pantheon of great burger toppings, the fried egg rules all.