One of the highlights of our summer vacation at the cabin were the fabulous meals that were cooked up every night. Of course, given the environment most of the meals were grilled and throughout the week we enjoyed grilled vegetables, potatoes, BBQ chicken and grilled salmon. All of our meals were simple yet delicious and each night we thought we had outdone the previous dinner.
Towards the end of the week our friends began to arrive for the weekend and the dinners became more varied with a little of this and a little of that since everyone wanted to make something for the occasion.
One of our friends had recently been on a hunting trip and wanted to share some of the wonderful venison he had brought home. It was absolutely wonderful. Much gamier yet leaner than beef, the grilled venison steak just tasted so…natural. It was organic without the $5 packaging. I was extremely excited when he was nice enough to send us home with some of the extra ground venison that he had.
The weeks began to pass by and back in the city we transitioned into fall . In all of the chaos of moving and working long hours, we almost forgot about our special package of venison in the back of the freezer. But how could something so wonderful be forgotten? We decided that it was time to enjoy the full flavors of the venison and reminisce over the seemingly long gone summer.
First we used the venison to make a simple ragu served over pasta. Although a certain unnamed someone thought making a sauce would drown out the rich, meaty flavor of the meat it actually did the exact opposite. The simple combination of tomatoes, onion & red wine actually created the perfect backdrop for such a bold meaty flavor.
After the success of the sauce, I thought that we might as well try pairing another bold flavor with the venison and see how it would stand up. That is where the idea for these blue cheese burgers came from. The blue cheese centers really help the meat stay moist, as it is leaner than most beef it can dry out quickly. Sourdough “buns” also provide a great crunch to match with the creamy, luscious burgers.
Obviously this recipe can made with regular ground beef but I beg you…give venison a try!
Blue Cheese Stuffed Venison Burgers with Caramelized Onions on Sourdough Buns
(makes 4 burgers)
1 1/2 lb. ground venison
6 oz Cashel Blue Cheese*
2 cups sliced yellow onions
8 thick slices sourdough bread
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add sliced onions and season with 1 1/2 tsp salt. Saute for about 15 minutes, occasionally stirring, until onions are golden & caramelized.
Lightly season venison with salt and pepper. Begin forming half of a burger patty (about 3 oz.) into a circle in the palm of your hand. Form a small well in the center and place about 1.5 oz. of blue cheese in center. Take another 3 oz. of venison and place on top sealing edges together.
Place large skillet over medium-high heat. Once pan is heated, add burgers**. Cook 3 minutes each side and place in 350°F oven for 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Keep in mind venison can dry out quickly and is best when cooked medium rare.
Brush olive oil onto bread slices. Place in broiler for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Slice garlic in half and rub over bread.
Place burger on buns and top with onions. Serve and enjoy!
Apologies for the poor pictures – still trying to get camera set up after the move!
Our burgers were served with a side of sweet potato fries and a chipotle dip (plain greek yogurt, diced chipotle, hot sauce).
* Cashel Blue Cheese is a fantastic blue cheese from Ireland. I chose it for this recipe because it is creamier than some other blue cheeses and it has earthy notes which mimic that of the venison. Feel free to use your favorite blue cheese!
** These can also be made on a grill pan or on the outside grill