The Incredible Fried Onion Burger You Can Make with Venison, Too

The fried onion burger at Baird's Lakeside Cafe in Canton, Okla., is a testament to goodness and the state's legendary meat-onion treat. You can make it with venison, too. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

The fried onion burger at Baird’s Lakeside Cafe in Canton, Okla., is a testament to goodness and the state’s legendary meat-onion treat. Where are the onions? Under and in the patty! You can make it with venison, too. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

Matt Rice looked at me like I had a third eyeball growing out of my forehead, but it was a legitimately honest question since I’d never heard of a fried onion burger.

“Whad’daya mean, what’s a fried onion burger? You’ve never had one?”

We were a couple of days into our hunt at Oklahoma’s legendary Chain Ranch in October 2015 with the new Thompson Center Strike muzzleloader when someone mentioned the burgers. After the best ribeye steak I’ve ever had at the Chain one evening, and then a super lunch of Mexican fare at El Charro in tiny nearby Canton, my waistline was starting to yelp.

But I don’t shy away from a tasty burger. This fried onion burger had piqued my curiosity. Rice, who is with Blue Heron Communications in Norman, Okla., and helps with PR for Thompson Center, explained that a fried onion burger is one in which the marriage between beef and onion is made on the flattop.

They begin cooking the patty, he said, and then separately start browning some chopped onions. A lot of them. We’re not talking about one or two little rings. I’m talking about a third to a half an onion per patty. Yep, that many. Because they’re good.

Then, after the patty’s browned a bit and the onions are starting to caramelize, move the onions to the meat. Let them rest on top, if you want, or you can smash ’em together for more cooking. Some folks add jalapenos. Cheese can be added.

Here’s a great, and probably more precise, description from a story on NewsOK.com about the El Reno Fried Onion Burger Festival.

Technique determines the classification. A wad of fresh ground beef is dropped onto a blazing hot griddle then covered with fresh onions. Then the onions are pressed, usually with a retrofitted, cast-iron paving tool, into the raw beef. When flipped, the unadorned side is dark and crusty. The tool is used again to flatten the uncooked side and integrate the onions into the newly forming crust. When done, the onions are charred, crisp and standing with toes over the edge of burnt from whence they carefully creep back from the dangerous acrid flavor of overcookedness. A few pickles, plenty of mustard and fried-onion burger nirvana is reached. Yes, you can do mayo, but somehow it’s just not the same.

I would absolutely love to visit this event. Oklahoma’s turkey season ends just before it so, well, y’know, it could be a combo trip. If you burger festival folks need a judge or fat guy with a willing palate, holla. The Chain Ranch ain’t far and they have turkeys and coyotes and such.

Here’s how the fried onion burgers are made at Baird’s. My video’s not great but it was shot on the fly, so excuse the impromptu work:

Apparently there’s even a long, hot debate about who has the best Fried Onion Burger in Oklahoma. Johnny’s, Sid’s and Robert’s — all of them in El Reno — get votes and love and raised eyebrows, depending on who you’re talking with. It reminds me of my hometown where the two joints that had similar burgers also had regulars who wouldn’t let the other’s food pass their lips.

Ah, such is life and the greatness of civil debate and food diversity.

If you enjoy onions, and want a fried onion burger, whip up a batch of burgers at home and enjoy. It’s not difficult. And if you don’t like or can’t eat onions, here’s a recipe for pan fried venison steaks.

Venison Pan Fried Steaks
This recipe comes from mywildkitchen.com and was posted on our DDH Forum.

Ingredients:
1 – 2 pounds venison steaks, tenderized
½ onion, diced
2 – 4 Tbsp, divided
¼ c flour
½ tsp seasoning
¼ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp pepper

Directions:

Dice onion. Heat 1 – 2 Tbsp butter in a large cast iron skillet. Sauté onion until translucent and slightly browned.

Once sautéed, push onions to the edge of the skillet.

Meanwhile, tenderize meat. Sprinkle steaks with seasonings. Place ¼ c flour on a large plate. Dredge steaks in flour.
Add 1 – 2 Tbsp butter to the skillet. Lay the steaks in the skillet. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until blood begins to pool on the tops of the steaks. Flip the steaks. Cover the skillet with a lid, reduce heat, and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and spoon sautéed onions over the tops of the steaks and serve.

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