Foodie Friday: Greek Venison Patties with Tzatziki

Great venison dishes sometimes are modified and others may come from inspiration from other cultures. Greece has a great history of wild game dishes, so the addition of venison to the yogurt-based tzatziki isn’t a stretch. Tzatziki is delicious and a cool treat in summer to break the heat.

By Julie Golob

I have been to Greece twice. The first time was with the USAMU traveling to Crete for the 1998 IPSC European Championships. I fell in love with the food, enjoying my first Greek salad at tiny little restaurant not far from the Parthenon.

Last October I had the honor of representing Team USA at the IPSC World Shoot in Rhodes. It was an amazing trip and I took every advantage of indulging in souvlaki with tzatziki, seafood and, of course, more Greek salad!

I enjoy the flavors in Greek food – the sharpness of feta, the coolness of cucumber, the bite of garlic and the unique seasonings. Practically the only way I am going to get my Greek fix here in northeast Montana though is if I make it myself. And so, Greece is the next stop on my mulie meat world tour. (Click here for other dishes.) It’s Greek with an American twist!

Garlicky Greek tzatziki can be made and stored, is delicious and is easy to prepare. (Photo: Julie Golob)

I love me some tzatziki! Just ask my good friend and U.S. Ladies Production teammate Kippi Leatham. We both happen to be huge fans (and maybe even a bit obsessive) about garlic. While we were in Rhodes enjoying the sights and food we had tzatziki with almost every meal. The best we found was at a little eatery called Oscars. It was loaded with lots of garlic – yum!

Tzatziki is super easy to make. It stores well in the fridge for a dip or to smear on a bagel. Prepared early in the morning or the day before gives it a chance to meld all the flavors together. My version has a significant amount of garlic. If you aren’t a huge fan, then one or two cloves will work too. Here’s the recipe:

Tzatziki
16 oz. Greek yogurt
1/2 of a medium cucumber chopped into small pieces (1/4 – 1/2 inch cubes)
1 T. of dried dill
1 c. sour cream
5 cloves of garlic run through a garlic press
Mix it all up and refrigerate.

With the tzatziki chillin’ in the fridge, next up I prepped the venison patties.

Venison Patties
1.5 lbs. of ground venison
1/2 of a small onion, finely chopped
1 T. of pine nuts, finely chopped
1 t. of Greek seasoning (I use Cavender’s)

Mix the onion, pine nuts and seasoning together. Then combine the mixture thoroughly with the ground venison. Form small, slider size patties that fit inside your hand.

After the patties were prepped, I cut dinner size wheat buns and placed them on a baking sheet with the cut sides up. I melted two tablespoons of butter and added the juice of half a lemon to a small bowl. Whisking the butter and lemon together, I brushed some onto each bun. Next up I preheated my oven to 400 degrees.

Greek venison patties

It was time to dig out my trusty Cuisinart griddler, plug it in and set it on sear. Venison is best cooked hot and fast. If you don’t have a griddler, a grill pan or regular old grill will work just fine. Just remember to crank up the heat.

While the oven and griddler were preheating I added a small Greek salad to my plates. Not completely authentic but close enough, my salad consisted of a lettuce and herb mix, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, finely sliced red onion and feta. For the dressing I whisked together three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of the other half of my lemon and two teaspoons of juice from the kalamata olive jar.

When the griddler and oven reached preheat temperature, I placed the wheat buns in the oven and added the patties to the griddler. By simply closing the top, the griddler seared both the sides of the meat. Four minutes at sear and the patties were done to my liking. I kept an eye on the bread while the sliders cooked and I removed them from the oven when they toasted lightly to a golden brown.

A toasted wheat bun and a Greek inspired patty topped with a generous dollop of tzatziki finished up my mule deer venison Greek slider dish. How did they taste? Mmmmm good – a full five M’s on my hubby’s gourmet gauge! So easy to make, this dish has already become a regular at our house.

Click here for a printable pdf version of the Venison Greek Sliders recipe. For other recipes click here.

- Julie Golob

In addition to being a hunter, mother, housewife and author, Julie Golob is also a world and national champion shooter. For more about Julie visit www.JulieGolob.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.

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