The Deer Burger Cookbook
126 Pages, Softcover
By Rick Black
Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2005
Reviewed by: Chef John J. Vyhnanek, June 2006

Cover of Book
The Deer Burger Cookbook by Rick Black brought back memories of my teenage years. I don't know how southeastern Iowa compares to the mid-Hudson valley of New York, but we have something in commonWhite Tail Deer! The difference between me and Rick is that I froze in pulling the trigger, I had "Buck Fever" with a big 8 point stud. I made every excuse in the world not to shoot, needless to say I didn't want to field dress it. On other occasions, all my friends got theirs and there was plenty of venison to go around, plus the local pub had a venison club, the gun club and the American Legion Post always had a venison and game dinner in the winter. Neighbors were always sharing their venison (and stories) on how they bagged it, and they weren't always men's stories as several women were also avid hunters.

If you are a non-hunter and have eaten venison in a restaurant and can purchase it in a grocery store or butcher shop, you should know that wild deer and farm raised aren't the same. Wild deer are much more lean; they get a lot of exercise running, and eat a lot of grass, twigs and berries. If you have a garden or apple orchard they can be quite the pests! Farmed raised venison is of a different breed, often fallow deer, and are fed a special diet for commercial sale. They are less gamey, have a relatively tender meat and yet still very lean. Wild venison is not allowed for sale to restaurants and markets, the USDA prevents this from happening. Wild venison can only be cooked and served in your home or at private social clubs.

To use the recipes in this book you should know the author's definition of deer burger, which is the common ingredient in all recipes. According to Rick, It'should be the trimmed boneless meat either ground or chopped in a food processor with at least 10% beef or pork fat. He recommends wrapping, dating and freezing it for up to 1 year.

The recipes in this book are just what you would expect in a country, deer hunting atmospherethis isn't the Ritz! I made the venison rice, page 58, with venison from New Zealand. My guest didn't know it was venison, and that may be the case with venison that is ground like hamburgerbecause it looks like ground beef. The same could be said about Clapton's Stylin' Chili, page 46, which had chocolate, ginger, brown sugar and dry yeast in the recipe. No kiddingyeast! The results were surprisingly good. If you're still not ready to try the real thing, then you should start with Jos Deer Burgers on page 99. With the addition of salsa, tortilla chips, jalapeno peppers and cumin you'll never know you ate venison, and you then can say that you got your Buck too!

Rick Black, who loves hunting, is the author of several outdoor books. The book also offers suggestions on how to select equipment, hunting locations and importantly how to field dress a deer, the dirty job! I know that for a fact as I helped a friend do it once, and if you plan on saving the organsbring large zip lock bags and a cooler with ice for storage.

Clapton's Stylin' Chili

3 pounds deer burger
3 cups cold water
3 cups cold beer
1 cup chopped white onions
1/4 cup minced garlic
12 ounces tomato paste
8 ounces tomato sauce
6 ounces chocolate
2 tablespoons minced cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons dry yeast

Add the water, beer, and ground venison to a large cooking pot, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for about 8 hours.

Venison Rice

2 pounds deer burger
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
16 ounces beef stock
10 ounces cream of mushroom soup
2 1/2 cups instant rice
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the venison and the onion in oil until the venison burger is browned and the onion is tender and soft. Add the garlic, pepper, mushrooms, green bell pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the beef stock, mushroom soup, and rice. Cover the pan, and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Place this mixture into a large casserole dish, and bake for 15 minutes in a 300degree oven. When the baking is done, season with salt and pepper to your liking, and then sprinkle with the cheese. Cover, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Serve this one to the boys immediately after cookin'!

Jose Deer Burgers

1 pound deer burger
1 cup Mexican-style cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup crushed tortilla chips
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Sliced sourdough bread
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced lettuce

In a large bowl, combine deer burger, 3/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup salsa, tortilla chips, sliced green onions, peppers, cumin, and garlic salt; mix together lightly. Shape into patties. Grill burgers until no longer pink in the center. Place buttered slices of sourdough bread on grill until golden brown. Place the grilled deer burgers on toasted bread; top with remaining cheese, salsa, tomatoes, and lettuce.