Venison Burgers with Roasted Parsnip Straws and Beetroot and Red Onion Relish
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a main course
The game season serves us well and it delivers a variety of interesting ingredients with different tastes. Venison is exciting to cook with and can turn an everyday meal, such as a burger, into a gourmet treat. It took us, at the British Larder Suffolk, a little while to find ourselves and establish who we are, and then finally… drum roll please… it happened when the venison burger arrived. Phew! We thought it would never happen. Our customers adore a tasty burger and if it’s made with venison meat, then it’s even better. The accompanying sweet roasted parsnip fingers also add to the splendour of this feast of a ‘burger and chips’. Have a bit of fun by making your own relish; however, if time is running out, just opt for a good quality bought one instead.
How gamey do you like your venison? We opt for roe deer most of the time as it has a subtle venison flavour, but if you want a really gamey taste, ask your butcher for red deer – it’s more punchy, and the longer it hangs, the stronger the taste.
Ingredients & Method
For the beetroot and red onion relish
- 30g unsalted butter
- 300g red onions, finely sliced
- 350g raw beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chillies
- 100g dark muscovado sugar
- 100ml malt vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the venison burgers
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 stick celery, grated
- 600g minced venison
- 200g minced pork (optional – use all minced venison if you prefer, but a bit of fat keeps the burgers moist, and venison is very lean and can dry out easily)
- 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh horseradish (or substitute ready-grated horseradish from a jar or creamed horseradish, if you like)
- 1 egg
- 50g fresh breadcrumbs (preferably sourdough)
For the roasted parsnip straws
- 1kg parsnips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons clear honey
- a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
- 6 burger buns, cut in half, plus sliced tomatoes and salad leaves
- cooked hot battered onion rings, to garnish (optional)
First, make the relish. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and gently sauté the onions, beetroot, garlic and crushed dried chillies, with salt and pepper added, until the mixture starts to caramelise. This should take about 10–15 minutes.
Stir in the sugar and cook until dissolved. Pour the malt vinegar into the pan and let it bubble, stirring and scraping the base of the pan to deglaze it, then cook over a high heat for about 20 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy (with a bit of syrup but not too wet), stirring occasionally. Once the relish is ready, stir in the chopped thyme, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Spoon the relish into hot, sterilised jars, cover and seal, then cool. Keep refrigerated until needed. The longer you let the relish mature, the better the flavour will be, but you can use it straightaway if you like as it’s just as delicious. This relish will keep unopened in the fridge for up to 3 months; once opened it should also be kept refrigerated and used within 3 days.
Make the burgers. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Wrap the garlic cloves in foil and roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, then squeeze the soft garlic pulp out of the skins and set aside (see Cook’s Note). Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion, carrot and celery, with salt and pepper added, over a medium heat for 7–8 minutes or until soft. Do not let the vegetables colour – when the onions turn transparent, they are ready. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then stir in the roasted garlic.
Put the cooled onion mixture, together with all the remaining burger ingredients, into the bowl of an electric stand mixer, attach a dough hook and knead until all the ingredients are well mixed. I prefer to use a mixer for making burgers as it tightens the meat and prevents it from falling apart when cooking – however, if you do not have a mixer, simply combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly by hand. Take a small piece of the mixture and cook it in a hot pan until cooked, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and shape each portion into a thick, round burger. Place on a plate and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
When you are ready to serve, make the roasted parsnip straws. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Peel the parsnips and cut each one lengthways into 6–8 even wedges (each about 1cm-thick), then toss them with the olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the parsnip straws out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper, then roast them in the oven for 12–15 minutes or until tender and golden brown, stirring once or twice.
Meanwhile, using a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander seeds, then add the salt and thyme and mix together. Set aside.
While the parsnips are roasting, cook the burgers in a hot griddle pan over a high heat for 5–6 minutes on each side or until cooked all the way through and to your liking.
Once the roasted parsnips are ready, drizzle over the honey, plus a squeeze of lemon juice, if you like, then season with the thyme and coriander-flavoured salt. Serve immediately with the burgers.
Serve each cooked burger in a bun with a spoonful of the beetroot relish, and tomato slices and salad leaves. Garnish with battered onion rings, if you like, and serve with the hot roasted parsnip straws.
When making the venison burgers, if you prefer, you don’t have to roast the garlic, you can simply crush the 2 peeled garlic cloves and use them raw instead. However, raw garlic has a stronger flavour, whereas roasted garlic has a sweeter, more rounded flavour that complements the venison.