venison burgers

i used to rather like februaries. they were the coldest, nastiest of months which is probably one reason why i was quite partial to them. the other must have been the imminence of spring – march in sarajevo used to bring the kind of early spring that still makes me slightly demented, if that’s the right word. it is probably the equivalent of april in the UK, it being the cruellest month, etcetera. (in april, you’d get blossoms and the city would probably be at its prettiest, and then by the end of may, it was summer.)

i am not so keen on februaries now. there is nothing much to recommend them – they are a bit cold and a bit wet and a part of that indeterminate season that lasts from about october to about may, where months, marginally more or less wet and/or cold, merge into one.

plus, february has to be the worst month when it comes to food. gone is the excitement of stodge – you’ve had three months of comfort food by now. the sight of a butternut squash or a jerusalem artichoke fills me with despair. and it’s still a long way to spring despite the first daffodils at the farmers’ market (and our kitchen). you have to wait until at least the middle of march for things to start looking up.

so...i am running out of ideas for dinners. the venison thing was a fluke – we just happened to buy some at the marylebone farmers’ market the previous sunday and i’d bunged it in the freezer. i didn’t buy it for a reason, i just like having mince in the freezer as a back-up for when there is nothing else to eat – you can usually find enough things in the cupboard to throw something together.

mixed with some pork mince for fat and a few juniper berries, these burgers were brilliant. super quick and easy to make and only take a few minutes to fry. we ate them with roasted red peppers and some battered aubergines.


500g venison mince
250g pork mince
1 tsp juniper berries, crushed
2tsp white peppercorns, crushed (or just use normal black pepper)
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2tbs or more finely chopped parsley
lots of salt and pepper

just mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. you will have to use your hands to squish the whole thing together. i am sure i read somewhere that the more time you spend doing this, the better the final product is but i see no logical reason why this would be the case. as long as everything is thoroughly combined, you can stop. some suggest you take a small ball and fry it to check to seasoning but i didn’t bother.

still using your meaty hands, form golf-ball sized balls of meat, then flatten them with your hand to make burgers. you can make them as little or as big as you want but adjust your cooking time accordingly. i made five big ones. now, you can put the meat in the fridge at this point to allow flavours to develop a little – it also helps them firm up so they fry easier.

fry for 4-5 minutes each side, depending on size, until cooked through.


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