While venison was once the generic term made to apply to any wild game harvested for food, in more modern times it usually refers specifically to members of the deer family. In Scotland, it is almost always the meat of the red deer which is referred to as venison. While deer meat does make for incredibly tasty burgers, the fact that is so lean means that a fattier meat has to be incorporated in to the burgers if they are not to be dry, difficult to cook without them breaking up and consequently unpleasant to eat. These store bought Highland Game burgers were made from approximately two parts ground venison to one part ground pork and the further addition of a number of herbs and subtle seasonings ensured they were positively bursting with flavor. I previously shared a recipe idea for grilling these exact same type of burgers and serving them on open rolls with fried eggs and salsa but this idea is significantly different.

Scottish Venison Burgers and Crispy Potatoes
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Scottish venison burgers are served with crispy deep fried potato halves

The day before I prepared these burgers, I had been gifted a pack of Scottish smoked venison slices. I decided to incorporate some of the smoked venison in the assembled burgers as a texture and flavor contrast and the two items worked very well together. Other cold cuts of meat such as roast beef or pork could be substituted where available or the element could simply be eliminated from the dish altogether.

Scottish Smoked Venison
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Scottish smoked venison slices

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 2 quarter pound Scottish venison burgers
  • 5 or 6 baby new potatoes
  • Salt
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil for frying
  • 2 soft bread rolls or burger buns
  • Generous handful of mixed salad leaves of choice
  • 4 thin slices Scottish smoked venison (optional), or similar
  • Malt vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons rowan and apple jelly


Preparing to Boil Potato Halves
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Potato halves are firstly cooked by being simmered in salted water

If you wish, you could simply serve the burgers on their own or with the more traditional French fries. These deep fried little potato halves just make a little bit of a change as the skins crisp up really well, causing them to become super crunchy on the outside while remaining soft and fluffy on the inside. Start by washing but not peeling the potatoes and cutting them in half. Put the potato halves in to a pot of cold, salted water and bring the water to a simmer for fifteen minutes or until the skins are just starting to separate from the cut edges. Drain through a colander at your sink, allow to steam off, cover and leave to cool.

Frying Venison Burgers
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Starting to shallow fry venison burgers

If you buy your burgers in a pack, it is fairly likely that the pack will contain cooking instructions these instructions should of course be followed. In this instance, the burgers required to be shallow pan fried for five or six minutes each side. Simply pour a little oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat before adding the burgers. They should be carefully turned with cooking tongs or a spatula at the appropriate time.

Washing Salad Leaves
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Salad leaves are washed in cold water

Put the salad leaves in to a colander or large sieve and wash thoroughly under running cold water. Don't ignore this essential requirement, even where the pack states that the leaves have already been washed and are ready to eat. Pre-packed salad leaves have been known to be a major source of food poisoning. Sit the colander on your draining board until the leaves are required and this will allow most of the water to drain away.

Deep Frying Potato Halves
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Potato halves are deep fried until crisp

Bring a deep fat fryer or a deep pan of cooking oil up to a fairly high heat (350F or 170C where it is measurable). Cook the potato halves for about five minutes, turning them occasionally around in the pan, until they are a rich, golden color.

Salad Laid on Rolls
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Salad leaves are added to rolls

Cut the bread rolls in half horizontally and lay them open on your serving plate. Shake the last vestiges of water from the salad leaves, season with just a little salt and divide equally between the two bottom roll halves. Press down lightly with your fingers.

Smoked Venison added to Rolls
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Smoked venison slices are laid on salad beds

Separate the smoked venison slices and lay two on top of each salad bed.

Draining Deep Fried Potatoes
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Deep fried potato halves are drained on kitchen paper

Remove the potatoes from the fryer or pan to a plate covered with several sheets of kitchen paper. Season immediately with a little bit of salt and an optional few splashes of malt vinegar. Leave for a minute or so to drain off and dry out.

Burgers Laid on Rolls
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Venison burgers are laid on smoked venison and salad beds

Lift the cooked burgers from the pan with a spatula, holding each one above the pan for a few seconds to let the excess oil drain back in to the pan. Place one burger on to each smoked venison and salad bed.

Jelly Spooned on to Burgers
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Rowan and apple jelly is spooned on to venison burgers

There are a number of different condiment jellies which work very well with wild game in general and venison in particular. Redcurrant jelly is one such option but this homemade rowan and apple jelly for me is the ultimate venison flavor enhancer. It is made from the berries of the European rowan tree (sometimes called a mountain ash) and I make a batch every year. Similar berries are available in many countries and a search engine query should help you fine the nearest equivalent in your locale if you want to give this idea a go. The jelly also goes extremely well with roast beef.

Spoon a little jelly on to the top of each burger before closing the rolls over and plating up the crispy potato halves for immediate service.