Welcome to fall. Whether you prefer hunting or fishing, this is absolutely the best season for sportsmen in the Carolinas. If you enjoy both, you may miss some days at work, because both are so good it’s difficult to choose which one to enjoy on only a day or two off each week.
Other seasons are good, but fall is when the outdoors calls the loudest and strongest. Deer season is one of the most-anticipated hunting seasons, and by October, it is open in some form from the mountains to the coast. Fishing is also top-notch from small streams way up in the mountains to the depths of the Gulf Stream.
Fall weather is excellent for having a cookout. If you cook for lunch, you’ll probably be more comfortable in shirtsleeves, but as the sun begins to set, the air usually cools enough for an overshirt or light jacket. This is prime time to cook outside. You might even want a small fire in an adjacent fire pit.
Venison is an excellent choice for firing up the grill. It may be fresh venison, or it could be time to prepare the last from the previous season before filling the freezer again. We like burgers, but sometimes we like to fancy them up a bit. This is especially true when it is burgers made from game.
We are fortunate to be able to enjoy a variety of game and fish, but it’s still special. This recipe is for bacon- and cheese-stuffed venison burgers. It is a bit different than laying a slice of cheese and a couple of strips of bacon on top of a burger. We like that, too, but this puts the bacon and cheese inside the burger, and it’s different. I believe you’ll see.
If you want, you can also melt a slice of cheese on top and even add more bacon. You don’t need to, but you can if you like. Bacon and cheese are two things that only your doctor thinks you can enjoy too much.
This is a meal to enjoy outside, especially during the fall. Whether in your back yard or on a deck or patio, there is something special about eating outside, and these venison burgers add to that. Have them on buns if you like, but be prepared to lick your fingers and use a lot of napkins. I like them served hot off the grill on a plate like a hamburger steak with the melted cheese oozing out. It’s good both ways, so have it your way.
Stuffed venison burgers
- 2 pounds ground venison
- 2 eggs
- 4 to 6 pieces of bacon
- 1/2 sweet onion
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese (your choice of flavor or multiple flavors)
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Aluminum foil
Chop the onion pretty fine. Fry the bacon softly done, remove it from the pan and crumble. Drain the bacon grease until it’s barely covering the bottom of the pan. Lightly sauté the onion to break its glaze. Beat the eggs. Mix the venison, egg, bread crumbs, onion, Liquid Smoke, salt and pepper.
Form the bottom half of the burger using a burger press with a stuffed burger adapter. If you do not have a burger press, make an approximate 1/3-pound burger with an approximate 1/2-inch deep cavity that runs to within a half-inch of the outer wall. Fill the cavity with bacon crumbles and shredded cheese.
Form another thin burger the same diameter using the burger press or by hand. Place the second burger over the burger with the filled cavity and press the burgers together into a single burger.
Spray the grill grate or a grill tray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat the grill to medium. Place the burgers on the grill and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over them. Cook the burgers until the bottoms are almost done and the tops is beginning to show it is cooking. This is 10 to 12 minutes on my grill for a medium doneness. Turn the burgers and cook the second sides, again with the sheet of aluminum foil laying over them. This should not take as long as the first sides. This is 8 to 10 minutes on my grill for a medium doneness. Less cooking time will make the burger more rare and more cooking time will take it to well done. Remove the burgers and serve them hot.
You can make these burgers a bit thinner so they can be served on buns, but if you eat them while they’re good and hot, they may be a little runny from the melted cheese. They are fun to eat but can be messy. They are easier served on a plate as a hamburger steak, and you can add your favorite steak sauce or a dollop of ketchup. A salad or lettuce wedge is a good way to begin and corn on the cob, a baked potato or mashed potatoes are good choices for a side.
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Most folks like burgers, and this is a way to enjoy them with your favorite fixins — on the inside. They’re big, a half-pound or more, but they’re good. This is a simple version, as most folks like bacon and cheese, but the list of ingredients you can add is very long. If there is something you like, give it a try. One of my favorites is taco burgers stuffed with salsa and cheese. Maybe we’ll give that a shot later, but I wanted to show something simple that appealed to a lot of people.
I started stuffing burgers when my mother-in-law gave me a burger press for Christmas. It helps when making super burgers like this, but they can be formed by hand. There are multiple videos on using a burger press. I’ve watched plenty, and this draws a little from several of them.
Most instructions say to oil the surfaces of the press that will be touching the burger; it will come out easier; that’s good. I line the press with the press-and-seal version of plastic wrap. It isn’t as foldy and clingy as regular plastic wrap and holds its shape a little better. I turn the sticky side up towards the burger and push the smooth side down into the press, leaving some hanging out all around. It allows the burger to form to the shape of the press, and when the burger is finished, you lift the wrap and it comes right out. Use the same piece of wrap for all your burgers.
Some versions of the recipe don’t use onions or mixes them in the cavity with the bacon and cheese. I wanted to spread the taste throughout, especially since I was sautéing them in the bacon grease. That’s why I chop the onions finer and mixed them in.
Speaking of fine chopping, I use an Ulu to chop them. An Ulu is a curved-blade knife used by the Inuit, Yupik and Aleut peoples of the Alaskan and Arctic regions. I saw one used in Alaska years ago, and I picked one up. It’s amazing, and I’m learning more about it every time I use it.
I rarely suggest adding salt, but this recipe can use a little. I am heavy on the pepper; I think it sets off the bacon taste. As with any recipe offered, use ingredients to your personal taste. This is simply a good basic recipe to get you to try this.
The ingredients list includes a half-cup of shredded cheese and doesn’t specify which. Use your favorite. I used cheddar cheese on two burgers and pepper jack on a third. It isn’t on the ingredients list, but the one with pepper jack got a shot of Texas Pete Cha Sauce before being closed up.
Make these burgers to your personal preference. It easy to tailor them to individual tastes. Experiment, have fun and enjoy!
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