Basic Ground Venison
After an unexpected hunting opportunity this winter I was lucky enough to find myself returning from Christmas with about 20 lbs of venison. About half of that was all the small bits that couldn't be turned into steaks or roasts. I decided it was easiest to have them just vacuum seal everything up so I could decide what to do with it all when I got back. After a brief search I discovered that we have a fantastic butcher in downtown Fort Collins, Choice City Butcher that sources all their meat from farms right here in Colorado. So Brittany and I headed down one day for brunch. Turns out they have a top notch restaurant plus a bar with about 30 beers on tap from all over the world. Certainly the coolest butcher shop I've ever been to!
But I digress... After brunch I picked up some beef top round, beef fat, pork butt, and pork fat. I decided if I was going to turn the kitchen into a meat market I would take the opportunity to make a bunch of sausage as well, something that I haven't done for a while. More on that in posts to follow.
I had an old hand crank meat grinder but got the grinder attachment as a promotional item when I bought the Kitchen Aid mixer. It does pretty well and sure makes it easier when you're doing bigger batches.
Meat grinds better when it's slightly frozen. Too frozen and you risk breaking the grinder or working the motor too hard so I moved the venison from the freezer to the fridge a couple days before I was ready to start grinding.
I decided to do 5 lbs of the venison as a basic grind. Since venison is so lean and to help balance any strong game flavors I added about 1.25 lbs of the top round.
While the top round does have a good bit of marbling, I also added about .75 lbs of beef fat to bring the total fat content to between 15 and 20 percent.
Cutting everything into one inch or smaller chunks makes it easier to feed into the grinder.
We mostly use ground meat for burgers and occasionally chili so I decided to go ahead and pre-season the meat with a little salt, pepper, garlic and onion. I mixed this in before grinding the meat. Pre-mixing the spices before grinding lets me minimize how much I have to handle the ground meat. I think this helps preserve the texture but in the end is really more personal preference than anything.
I ran everything through the course plate, making sure I was putting in a good mix of venison, beef and fat.
The end result was a pretty well mixed batch of almost 7 lbs.
This project also finally gave me an excuse to get a home vacuum sealer which I think is well worth the investment if you want to do your own meat processing. Vacuum sealing greatly extends freezer shelf life and pretty much eliminates freezer burn. For this batch I did 1 lb bags.
Of course only six bags at 1 lb each meant there was just enough extra for a couple of burgers. I certainly figured after all that work they were going to be pretty tasty, but even I was surprised at how good they came out. They had just the right balance of flavor. You could tell you are eating something more than just a beef burger but there is certainly no game taste.
Of course what the cook thinks is only half the test, but since Brittany took one bite and proclaimed it as the best burger she's ever had, I'll consider it a pass.
Thanks for reading!