1. All Burgers Need Fat
It's the law! Without adequate fat, your burgers will turn into dry little hockey pucks that are unpleasantly chewy and flavorless. So visit your local butcher and pick up some beef or pork fat...some people even use bacon ends.
2. Grind Your Own Meat
You must choose what cuts to use in your burger, but here at the studio we use meat from the shoulder, neck, ribs and hind legs. However this is entirely up to you. You'll need: 1 1/2 pounds venison and 1/2 pound of fat of your choice. Make sure that both the meat and the fat are very cold. Then cut the venison and fat into pieces that your grinder can handle. Place all the pieces in a bowl and mix together so they are ground together. We grind about 1/2 to 2/3 fine and the remaining gets a course grind.
3. It's Patty Time
I want a patty that can stand up to my bun. If the bread overwhelms the burger then there is something wrong. So, make 4-6 patties anywhere from 1/2 inch to 1 inch in thickness. I take care not to overly compact the patties, the denser they are the chewier they become and they don't hold as much moisture.
4. Go Charcoal or Go Home
I know gas grills are all the rage, and for convenience they can't be beat, however, grilling on charcoal is ideal. Nothing else can imitate the flavor a really hot charcoal sear provides. So, make sure your grill is piping hot and then scrape downs the grates and now we are ready to season. I prefer to let the meat be the rock star here, so I lightly coat the patties with salt and pepper only and then place them on the grill. 3 minutes per side seems to be the magic number on our grill. They have a great crust, but when you take a bite they are still pink and plenty juicy inside.
Toppings may be the most controversial part of this whole process and a place where most burger lovers will just have to agree to disagree. For me personally, I like simple: a toasted bun, crisp lettuce, one pickle chip, thinly sliced onion and a little bit of ketchup and mustard to top it off. Put cheese or mayo on my burger and I'll kick you in the shins. To each their own, right?
The most important part of the process though, is the meat itself. Grinding the venison yourself lets you control the flavor and the outcome of your final product. It's worth a little extra work.