I don’t expect many people to make these burgers with elk, which is what I did. But those that do will not be disappointed! Elk, and game meat in general, is a delicious, healthy, sustainable and underrated source of protein. Elk and other game meat is becoming increasingly more available in grocery stores, farmer’s markets, butcher shops and even online. Oftentimes it is wild, as well as naturally grass-fed and free of hormones and antibiotics. It also happens to be delicious and lends itself perfectly to a variety of recipes, like burgers!
If you’re in the Toronto area, you can check out the frozen meats section at Farm Boy in Etobicoke. They carry a variety of ground game meats as well as stew cuts. At around $10/lb for ground venison, bison, elk and wild boar, you can get some reasonably priced options relative to organic and grass-fed beef products at most butcher shops or farmer’s markets.
If you can’t find ground elk or venison, you can of course substitute ground beef or even lamb in this recipe. However, I am not particularly fond of this recipe with white meat, such as turkey or chicken. The spices, particularly smoked paprika, can be quite strong and overpowering, which is why elk is a perfect choice here. The slightly pungent sweetness from the elk pairs really nicely with the smoky spice of the Spanish paprika.
As far as toppings go, I tried a few combinations before finally landing on the perfect pairing of pickles, tomatoes, caramelized onions and a homemade Dijonnaise. Because game meat is typically rich in flavour yet lean in fat content, it’s important to balance profiles out with your accoutrements. The pickles add some tang, the tomatoes bring some juiciness to the party, the caramelized onions add some richness and the dijonnaise rounds everything off with a creamy, peppery kick of flavour.
As usual, everything gets loaded up onto an iceberg bun, which has quickly become my favourite burger delivery vehicle. The iceberg adds an insane amount of crunch and doesn’t leave me staving off a food coma once I’m done enjoying what just might be my new favourite summertime burger!
I hope you enjoy these Game Burgers as much as I do!