I don't eat burgers very often, so when I do, I like to splurge. Don't get me wrong—I enjoy the simplicity of Jimmy Buffett's cheeseburger in paradise, but sometimes my taste buds want more. Burgers are one of the best ways to incorporate a variety of flavors and textures, and I can't help but explore those options.
This recipe is, without a doubt, a gourmet venison burger, but it's easy to make. The venison is simply seasoned with salt and pepper and accompanied by caramelized onions, goat cheese, and tomato jam served on toasted challah buns. Now, before you write off the tomato jam as a weird condiment, trust me when I say that it belongs here. It's like ketchup: sweet and tart. Unlike ketchup, it's made with fresh tomatoes and allowed to reduce into rich, umami-like flavors.
For food safety concerns, I based this recipe on the guidelines outlined in the USDA's recipe for tomato jam. I use their tomato and citrus juice ratio to ensure that the pH levels are safe for canning. However, I prefer to reduce the amount of sugar called for so that the jam is less sweet and pairs well with savory foods. I also omit the pectin because the sugars will naturally caramelize and thicken to a jam-like consistency on its own if allowed to simmer long enough. This results in a deep concentration of flavors, making it the perfect condiment for cheese and charcuterie boards.
For general tips and information about canning and food safety, please visit the National Center For Home Food Preservation's website.
- 1½ lbs. ground venison or beef
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt & pepper
- 4 oz. goat cheese, sliced or crumbled
- Romaine, red leaf, or arugula lettuce
- 4 hamburger buns
- 2½ lbs. cherry or roma tomatoes, halved
- 1¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup bottled lime juice
- 2 tsp. crushed red chili flake
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 2 half-pint jars, sterilized
Also works with
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of cooking oil. Add the red onions and sauté until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. You want the onions to brown and caramelize, but you don’t want them to burn. Season with a pinch of salt to draw the moisture out. About 10 to 15 minutes in, add a splash of red wine vinegar. Sauté for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onions are caramelized. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Roll about 6 ounces of ground venison into a ball and start to form patties. Don't overwork the meat. After shaping, press your thumb in the middle to make an indention and prevent it from shrinking when cooked.
- Be sure you're cooking over hot coals or preheat a propane grill over high heat. Season the patties with a generous amount of salt and pepper just before adding to the grill. Once you set the meat down, leave it down until they are ready to flip, about 2 to 3 minutes. Keep the burgers covered as they cook.
- After flipping, spoon over the slices of goat cheese. Close the lid on the grill and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes for medium doneness. Remove from the grill.
- Build your burger by layering the buns with tomato jam, patties, caramelized onions, and lettuce.
- In a large pot over high heat, combine the tomatoes, sugar, lime juice, chili flakes, and salt. Once it begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low. Simmer the tomatoes for 2 hours or longer until the sugar has caramelized into a thick, jam-like consistency. The higher the heat, the faster the process will take, but you need to be close by to constantly stir and make sure it doesn't burn. I prefer to keep the temperature low and stir periodically until finished. You can consume immediately, or preserve by freezing or canning.
- To can using the water bath method, place the tomato jam in sterilized 1/2 pint jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace at the top. Add the lid and band and boil in a water-bath for 10 minutes.