A New Year’s Eve good luck tradition in parts of the south, John and I make Hoppin’ John every year just because it tastes great. This venison burger recipe has become the centerpiece of our New Year’s Day party. We’re going to miss that this year. For the last several years we’ve hosted an open house—3-8 PM, on New Year’s Day—but we’re all a bit long in the tooth and some of our friends have been fighting other illnesses, so we’re going with caution this year. Of course we’re still making Hoppin’ John, (it obviously didn’t work on 2020, but we have hope) and we’ve already been asked if it will be ‘pick-up or delivery….’ I think a New Year’s Day drive around the valley with binoculars and spotting scopes is just the right way to start the new and improved (we hope) year. It looks like it won’t be too cold or windy, so we’ll hang out on a few porches and toast the end of 2020 with friends as well.
If you don’t have any Cajun sausage you can use bacon (1/2 pound for this recipe), but the sausage is easy to make, doesn’t require casing or extended mixing, and adds a more complex flavor to the pot. Besides, this is a tasty way to use some of the venison burger you put in the freezer this hunting season. Variety. It is the spice of life! And, you know, sausage is technically a varietal meat which is why, when you have lots of venison steaks, roasts and burger in the freezer, it’s a very welcome change of pace.
This venison burger recipe is from Slice of the Wild: 100 venison recipes: https://www.riflesandrecipes.com/product/venison-recipes/
but you’ll find a lot more sausage recipes (perfect for converting ground venison into smashing varietal meat, in Sausage Season:
Hoppin’ John Venison Burger Recipe
- 1 pound Cajun sausage (venison burger recipe follows)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 15 ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups cooked rice*
- Brown the sausage in the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic and sauté them until the onion is tender, 6-8 minutes.
- Add the water, bay leaves, salt, both cayenne and black peppers, and black-eyed peas. Bring the pot back to a low (gentle) boil over high heat, reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer 40-50 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves, stir in the rice, and continue simmering another 10 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve hot, with corn bread or garlic toast.
PS: For the party, we double this recipe and always run out!.
*Cooking rice: There’s a simple formula for cooking rice. Just remember 1, 2, 3. Take 1 cup of rice, add it to 2 cups of boiling water, (cover the pot, turn the burner down as low as it goes and cook for 25-30 minutes) and you’ll have 3 cups of cooked rice. How do you tell when it’s done? It gets ‘eyes.’ Once all the water is absorbed, the cooked rice will be perfectly level in the pot, with little indentations all across the top. Those are the eyes. At that point, turn off the burner, ‘fluff’ the rice with a fork, and it’s done.
- 8 ounces ground venison
- 8 ounces ground pork fat
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the venison burger and pork fat with the spices, mixing thoroughly by hand. I’d suggest adding the cayenne pepper gradually until you find your comfort level because, while this sausage is delicious at my house, my cayenne might be milder–or hotter–than the brand you purchase. Too little is easily corrected, but once the cayenne gets too hot, you’re committed to diluting it with more of everything else. Start with half, let it sit 12 to 24 hours in the fridge , then adjust the flavors.
- To use in this Hoppin’ John, you’re done. For a more ‘sausagey’ bonded texture, vastly unlike crumbly venison burgers, follow the mixing instructions for Grandpa’s Knockwurst (posted 10/26/20 – https://www.riflesandrecipes.com/wild-game-recipes/wild-game-knockwurst/), adding 1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water and mixing 2 minutes/ medium speed in a stand mixer. The bowl on the Classic KitchenAid is the perfect shape for this.)
- To store for later cooking, double wrap the venison sausage in plastic wrap and freezer paper. Venison sausage–with the added fat– will keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 months a shorter time than venison burger–because of the fat added.