A good venison burger is hard to find, so I set about creating one that is packed with flavour, is moist, juicy and good enough to mix with the best beef burgers around. Juniper berries and smoky bacon add layers of flavour, while a smoked havarti cheese and crisp shallots help provide extra punch and texture.
600 grams venison mince
1 tablespoon olive oil
200 grams smoked streaky bacon, sliced thinly
1 medium red onion, diced finely
8 juniper berries, crushed finely using a mortar and pestle
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cream
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4 x burger buns, sliced in half and toasted
2 medium shallots, peeled and sliced finely
175 grams smoked havarti cheese, sliced to make 12 pieces (I used Kapiti brand)
4 teaspoons Dijonnaise
baby spinach leaves
6 gherkins, sliced lengthways
Patties: Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat and sauté the bacon for 5 minutes or until it starts to brown. Add the onion and sauté until the bacon is cooked and the onions are translucent. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
When cooled, add the remaining patty ingredients and mix until fully combined. Separate the mixture into four equal portions and shape into patties. Cover and allow them to rest for 30 mins at room temperature. (If making ahead of time refrigerate until needed but remove from the fridge half an hour before cooking.)
Burgers: Heat 2-3cm of canola oil in a small saucepan to 180°C and fry the sliced shallots until golden brown. Place in a bowl lined with kitchen paper and place in a 140°C oven to keep warm.
To cook: Place the patties on a preheated barbecue or griddle and cook for 4-5 mins on one side. Then flip the burgers and place 3 slices of the smoked havarti cheese on top of each patty to melt while they finish cooking for 3-4 minutes. Remove, cover and rest for 5 minutes covered.
To assemble: Place a teaspoon of Dijonnaise on four of the toasted bun halves, then a small handful of baby spinach leaves, gherkin slices, a burger patty and a generous helping of fried shallots.