Cooking venison

Justin Grider teaches hunting mentor participants how to cook his famed Justin Burgers out of venison.

Recipes for turkey, wild hog and venison

When you go hunting, the actual hunt is only part of the fun. The other part of the fun is eating what you harvest.

Like cooking any other meat, experimenting and trying new ideas is what makes it fun. There are as many ways to prepare wild game as there are to prepare any other food.

Justin Grider, the regional hunter education coordinator for Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, talks about prepping the meat and shows new hunters WFF Adult Mentored Hunts a recipe he has developed for tasty deer burgers.

First, you should clean the harvest as soon as possible and get the temperature of the meat down as quickly as possible to prevent any spoilage. Grider said this is true for deer, hog, turkey or any game, large or small.

During the Adult Mentored Hunts, part of the education is experiencing many different dishes using venison and even wild hog. Some of the delicious dishes are venison enchiladas, hamburger helper made with ground venison and cheesy dip with venison. Venison chili was also a favorite, as was back strap wrapped in bacon and baked. What the new hunters learn is that anywhere you use beef, you can substitute venison.

Wild hog is in abundance on the Portland Landing Special Opportunity Area where the Adult Mentored Hunts take place. The new hunters often harvest hog as well as deer, and if the new hunters don’t harvest the wild hog, members of the WFF staff will trap them. Hog is an invasive species that does a lot of damage to farm and hunting land. The WFF has a large trap on the Portland Landing SOA in which they can catch quite a few hogs at once, usually no fewer than 20 at a time. On a recent Adult Mentored Hunt, Grounds Keeper Johnny Garner smoked a wild hog he injected with seasonings. Grider says he likes to cook hog with an injection of vinegar mixed with Cajun spices and put it in the smoker.

Grider said he and his wife especially like wild turkey, and their favorite turkey recipe is called Turkey Schnitzel. Grider starts with the turkey breast and slices it thin, about a quarter of an inch. He puts the meat between two pieces cellophane wrap and uses a tenderizer to “basically pulverize it until it is almost broken apart.” The tenderized breasts are then breaded and fried. Grider prefers Panko Bread Crumbs.

There is a certain primal satisfaction when you sit down to a meal prepared with meat that you hunted and harvested yourself. As Grider said, taking control of where your meat comes from is a great feeling, and is an important part of the hunting experience.

And now back to the venison burgers that have affectionately become known as Justin Burgers or Grider Burgers. Here is the recipe.

1 pound of ground venison 75/25 meat to fat mix although 85/15 will work.

¼ cup of finely chopped white or yellow onions.

¼ cup seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs.

½ cup finely shredded Pepper Jack cheese. (If you don’t like spicy cheese, Colby Jack or Swiss cheese works.)

Put all ingredients in a bowl and knead them together until all are well mixed. Add three or four dashes of Worcestershire sauce for a little kick, or more if you like a big kick.

Split into four equal parts and make each into a patty. Use your thumb to put an indention in the middle of the patty to help give the burger room to expand and not get too thick in the middle. This also gives the juices a place to hang out while the burger is cooking which adds to the overall flavor. Cook them on a grill at high heat. Any grill that can reach 500 plus is ideal. Cook for three minutes on each side. If after three minutes the burger is sticking to the grill, let them cook for 30 or 45 more seconds and they will cook enough to not stick. Remove the burgers and enjoy!

Grider puts cheese on his – Colby jack or pepper jack, both of which are tasty. Cheddar is good too. At this point, dress these up as you would any burger.

Some new hunters questioned cooking the meat at such a high heat for a short time. Most say they usually cook low and slow. Grider said his experience is the low and slow tends to dry out venison.

If you would like more information on the Adult Mentored Hunt or any other topic dealing with hunting, fishing and other outdoor resources and recreational opportunities, go to

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