Venison & Beef Burgers

This biog often extols the virtues of venison as a lean, healthy meat, but there’s one thing it cannot do alone: be a burger.

Venison-beef burgers
Venison-beef burgers

For that, you need to blend the ground venison with another meat. I have previously tried to bind ground venison into burgers using beaten eggs, but they fell apart while cooking.

Someone already took a bite of this burger
Someone already took a bite of this burger

For our first foray into mixing ground venison, we opted for ground beef chuck with a 85/15 ratio for added fat. As for the amounts of each meat, I just used 1 pound venison to 1 pound chuck. In a large mixing bowl, I combined the meats with a single beaten egg, 2 tablespoons truffle oil, a sprinkle of dried thyme and a combination of garlic salt, onion salt, Cajun seasoning and black pepper. I had wanted to add Worcestershire sauce, but did not realize it was hiding in the refrigerator.

Set aside burger toppings
Set aside burger toppings
venison beef burgers
Seasoned burger patties before grilling

To make the blending easier, whisk the egg separately, then pour over ground meat. Mix everything together with your hands. Form patties and place them on a casserole dish. Disclaimer: I cannot tell you exactly how my boyfriend grilled them to perfection because this task was performed outside while I prepared a green bean salad. As for the green bean salad, this is a classic cold salad with red wine vinegar. Trim the ends of your green beans and cook them, either by steaming in a pot or nuking them. I did the latter, and followed the instructions on the bag for the beans. You want them to be cooked, but retaining a little crisp bite. While the beans are cooking, peel and dice 2-4 cloves of garlic.

green bean salad
Getting ready to add garlic and vinegar

Once the beans are done, placed them in a covered dish with the garlic and an ample dousing of vinegar. Keep covered in fridge. This green bean salad can last for days and only gets better on day 2 and 3. Another complementary side for burgers is a classic: pasta salad. This is buttermilk bowtie pasta black bean salad offers a nice tang and is supremely simple to make.

INGREDIENTS
Half a box of mini bowtie pasta
1 can Bush’s black beans
Half a large red bell pepper
3-4 green onions
Huge handful fresh cilantro
One lemon, two limes
Cup of buttermilk
Couple tablespoons mayo
Heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
Cajun seasoning, fresh ground black pepper and pink salt

If you don't like cilantro, use parsley instead
If you don’t like cilantro, use parsley instead

Cook pasta according to box directions. Chop pepper, green onion and cilantro. Then, mix buttermilk, mayo, mustard and citrus juices and set aside. Drain cooked pasta and place bowties back in pasta pot. Drain black beans in the same colander. Put everything in the pot and stir. Season to taste.

What is best about this style of cooking, besides the amazing flavors, is how relaxing it is to prepare. After dinner, we can curl up on the couch and watch the dog watch for possums. The possums walk (or run) atop the back fence almost every night, providing entertainment for The Sage Leopard.

The Sage Leopard awaits a possum crossing
The Sage Leopard awaits a possum crossing

After all, he needed a distraction from the wafting scent of venison-beef burgers. Please enjoy the recipe and your evenings too.

Cheers,

The Sage Leopard

 

Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Venison Tenderloins

Good eating is not confined to weekends. The Sage Leopard’s motto is reclaim your quality time, craft your own happiness. My happy place is sautéing garlic in olive oil on a weeknight. As the aroma wafts through me, the stress of the day melts away. Here’s a weeknight dinner that combines the tradition of meat and potatoes with refreshing salad and the bright tanginess of buttermilk. The menu is followed by the directions.

  • Twice-baked potatoes with buttermilk, butter, chives, cheese and paprika
  • Venison tenderloin: olive oil, crushed fresh garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs, twine, Dutch oven
  • Tangy salad: romaine, cucumber, red onion, sliced radishes, cherry or grape tomatoes; buttermilk dressing: buttermilk, mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice (1 lemon) and chopped fresh chives, salt and pepper.

The baked potatoes: Here’s where Chef Mike really is an outstanding helper. Wash off two potatoes, prick them with a fork and place in microwave. Mine actually has a setting for baking potatoes. If not, cook on high for 3 minutes, flip and cook again for 3.5 minutes. Let potatoes cool so you can hold them. Slice in half lengthwise. Slice into potato meat to make cross hatches and then scoop out middles to make potato boats, placing potato scoops into bowl. Before mashing potato, drizzle on buttermilk, a tablespoon of butter and 1/3 of cup of sour cream and/or shredded cheese. Then, mash it all together. Scoop potato mixture back into skins. Sprinkle with paprika. Put in preheated oven at 375 degrees. Warm through.

To soften up the potato before scooping, cross-hatch it with some butter.
To soften up the potato before scooping, cross-hatch it with some butter.

Salad: Clean and chop romaine leaves; Peel and chop cucumber; Thinly slice red onion; thinly slice radishes, cut tomatoes in half. Place cut veggies in a salad bowl. In a bowl or large glass measuring cup, mix one part buttermilk to one part mayo (1/4 cup each), juice of one freshly squeezed lemon and whisk. Add chopped chives, salt and pepper. Place dressing in fridge.

romaine salad
Season tomatoes before adding to rest of salad

Venison medallions: Go hunting, have your own meat in the freezer, etc. A few hours before dinner, remove previously prepared venison medallions from meat freezer and place vacuum-sealed package in sink to defrost. If you are going to be at work all day, move meat from freezer to fridge before you leave the house. Upon your return, soak meat package in hot water while you prepare other parts of the meal. Once defrosted, place meat in a mixing bowl or other deep dish with copious amounts of fresh minced garlic. Cut sprigs of rosemary from the garden (preferable to store-bought). Drizzle some olive oil over meat and massage it in with the garlic. Tie rosemary springs to meat with cooking twine. In a Dutch oven, such as a Lodge cast iron one, brown the meat on the stovetop. After browning, cover with lid and place in 375-degree oven.  and check on it in about, say, eight minutes. It depends on how thick the medallions are. You want to be careful with venison cooking time. It is very, very lean and will dry out if cooked too long. The olive oil and covered Dutch oven should help the meat retain moisture.

Venison medallions wrapped in rosemary sprigs
Venison medallions wrapped in rosemary sprigs

Once the meat it ready to eat, toss the salad with buttermilk dressing and set up dinner plates with venison and potatoes. Place plates on dinner table and set the salad bowl down in the middle. Dinner is served!

The Sage Leopard

Buttermilk recipes and other impromptu cooking moves

It all started with a bottle of frozen buttermilk. My philosophy with cooking is to work with what you got, when possible. My mother always says you should plan a menu based on what you see is fresh at the store. Borrowing from that idea, I try to plan based on what is on hand at the house. On the flip side, I tend to go to the store armed with a list inspired by two or three recipes I want to try and have prepared over the next few days or week. As for the buttermilk, before our last trip, I put the milk in the freezer.

cornbread
Buttermilk plays a key role in my Vermont-Texas cornbread recipe

Today, which I think is several weeks later, I opened the pantry, fridge and freezer – in that order – to see what was available. Spying the frozen buttermilk, I was immediately inspired. What if I made mashed cauliflower with buttermilk? And, of course, I can bake buttermilk cornbread. Check, check. Plus, we had asparagus in the fridge. Suddenly the following menu was born:

  • Garlic buttermilk mashed cauliflower
  • Sautéed asparagus with raclette cheese and tomatoes
  • Maple Texas buttermilk cornbread

Here’s how I went about it, one dish at a time.

Cornbread:

Before pulling out all the ingredients, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with cast iron skillet inside. Ingredients: Lamb’s Stone Ground Yellow Cornmeal (1 ½ cups), combined with ½ cup bread flour, 4 teaspoons sugar, 3 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. salt, 1 cup buttermilk, ¼ cup oil, 2 eggs and a 1/4 cup of real maple syrup.

cornbread
Cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet

Directions: Simply put all the ingredients in one big mixing bowl and combine with a spoon or spatula. Pull out preheated skillet and place on stove top. Spray skillet with canola oil spray. Pour cornbread batter into greased skillet and place in over. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Place on stove top to cook. The bread should easily pop out of the skillet when cooled.

Mashed cauliflower: Ingredients to have on hand: one head cauliflower, garlic cloves, buttermilk, butter and olive oil. Break apart cauliflower and put florets in a microwave-safe dish. Add two cloves of peeled garlic (I initially used four cloves and it was, ahem, a bit too much).

Reducing the mashed cauliflower over low heat in a large saucepan
Reducing the mashed cauliflower over low heat in a large saucepan

Cook according to your microwave’s instructions for cooking vegetables. My Chef Mike actually has a specific setting for cooking vegetables and amounts by cups. Then put cooked florets in a large food processor. Add a tablespoon of butter, an ample splash of buttermilk, cover and crank it up. Open the top that allows the addition of further ingredients and add more buttermilk and drizzles of olive oil until combined. As it turned out, my batch had too much buttermilk so I ended up heating it on low in a saucepan to reduce the liquid. Later, I added some shredded Parmesan cheese.

Asparagus: Rinse asparagus in a colander, snap off ends, then snap into little pieces (1.5-2 inches). Saute in a nonstick pan. Once nearly cooked, add salt and sliced grape tomatoes. Finally, add some cheese. I used a raclette cheese, which is soft and strongly aromatic. Grind on black pepper.

Asparagus meeting up with tomatoes and cheese, always a great combination
Asparagus meeting up with tomatoes and cheese, always a great combination

This all came together and was served with venison steaks. It was a nice Sunday dinner and a good way to wrap up the weekend. It also was a great way to use the buttermilk that had been waiting in the freezer to be loved. I may just go get another piece of cornbread now.

Cheers,

The Sage Leopard