Party Burgers: Mouth Watering Wild Game Burgers
From Rifle Loony News February 2019
With the Covid-19 raging around us, I am hungry for a greasy burger, but fast food indoor seating is closed and I’m loathe to even do a drive-by…. So today, I made wild game burgers for lunch. But burgers with pizzazz and an extra dose of moisture. Before we talk about ingredients though, let’s talk about crumbly burgers, and keeping your spatula in your pocket.
Yes, adding fat—like an egg—helps burgers hold together. But we’re all just a bit too quick with the spatula, and burgers by definition are made to fall apart. So just make sure the first side of your patty is done cooking–nice and crisp and well browned–before even thinking of grabbing the spatula. If you’re not sure, just get down at eye level with the pan–at a safe distance. As the underside cooks, the evidence of it rises up the side of the burger: so when you see a nice crisp browning–instead of red raw meat–at the lower edge, it’s time. (And just for the record, that’ll be at least 3-4 minutes on medium high heat with burgers ½ to ¾ inch thick.)
The science of it is that cooking meat actually makes the proteins bond and, once bonded, that solid ‘arm locking’ will keep the burger from breaking apart when you turn it. Gently.
Now, make the burgers as written below, then feel free to freelance the assembly. For those who like hot stuff, maybe use pepper Jack cheese instead of Cheddar or Monterey Jack. As for the salsa mixture, I prefer the sweeter taste of mayo to sour cream some days, some days not; and always use fresh salsa rather than bottled. Then there’s bottled queso (runny cheese with the salsa mixed in) instead of fresh salsa. That’s very good, but our neighborhood grocery makes fresh salsa every day so it’s the option we almost always choose.
There’s another option to think about: adding the cheese to the burgers while they’re still in the pan. If you add a slice of cheese to the top of the patty as the second side gets done, then turn the heat down to low and cover the skillet—in 3 to 4 minutes the cheese will be melted and burgers will be done, and juicier than if you’d finished them off without ‘lidding,’ them.
Of course when summer comes around again, we’ll be grilling these burgers!
For the wild game burgers:
1 ½ pounds ground big game meat (deer, antelope, elk, moose, whatever you have.)
2 tablespoons Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
2 cups French’s Crispy Fried Onions
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil for the skillet
4-5 hard rolls
8-10 slices Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
⅓ cup fresh or bottle salsa
⅓ cup sour cream or mayonnaise
Prep and Cooking
- Combine all the burger ingredients together, mix well and let it sit for an hour or two covered in the fridge to let the flavors develop.
- When you’re ready to cook, start your oven broiler, and place the buns cut side up on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Butter the buns and set them aside. Preheat the broiler and set the shelf to 5” below the flames.
- Shape the burgers to match the shape of the rolls, while you heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the oil, and when it’s hot, add the burgers. Cook at least 3-4 minutes on that first side before you start messing with them. (Keep your spatula in your pocket, in other words, until the first side looks completely cooked.) Turn and cook the second side of the burger until the burger registers 165°F on a meat thermometer and there’s no pink left inside.
- When the wild game burgers are just about done, slide the sheet of rolls under the broiler. Broil about 1 minute until nicely browned. KEEP AN EYE ON THEM. Once they start to brown, it’s a nanosecond before they’re burned. Remove the buns from the oven, and layer with cheese slices while still very hot.
- Assemble the burgers: Top each cheesy buns with a burger and salsa with either mayo or sour cream–even a bit more tabasco if you like–and enjoy.