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How Expert Butchers Make an Elk Burger

The Meathook owners Ben Turley and Brent Young turn the lean meat into a “steak-y” burger 

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The Meathook butchers Ben Turley and Brent Young have a ton of experience making — and eating — burgers. So when it comes to tackling a burger with big game, such as elk, they’re definitely the ones to turn to.

The two start by breaking down a cut of elk chuck from Fossil Farms, a big game and exotic meat farm based in New Jersey, into large chunks. They make sure to save the fat on the side for the burger grind. They add the fat and the chuck pieces into the grinder, only passing it through once to get a large, loose grind. “If we’re making a big patty, we’re talking six to eight ounces, which means it’s going to be a larger grind in order for it to be steak-y,” says Young.

Now it’s time to make the patties. The two demonstrate how to make a loosely packed patty. “We want that steaky bite, we want that steaky texture,” says Turley. “That’s why we’re going to keep it really loose.” While the burgers are being set aside to chill, they get their toppings ready. They slice some soft cow’s milk cheese from Meadow Creak Dairy Farm, make their own horseradish mayo, slice some onions and pickles, and grill the buns.

When it comes time to grill the burgers, Young pours some rendered elk fat into the pan. He generously salts the patties, and places them in the pan to cook. “Because we’re working with elk today, we want to make sure that we’re not cooking all the way to medium or medium well. We want to keep it on the rare side,” explains Young.

Once the burgers are done, the two begin to build their burgers and add their desired toppings. The burger turns out to be about 11 ounces, to the duo’s delight. “We started by saying it was big game burger day, and we were not joking,” says Turley. “Every aspect of this works well together,” says Young. “Big game burgers, big game flavors, this whole thing is crazy and super delicious.”

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