Summer might be over, but football season is here – which means there’s still lots of grilling out to do! Here are three toppings that go well with anything, especially with venison burgers.
The first burger topping is one of my favorites, bacon-onion jam. It has a sweetness that replaces ketchup, and a uniqueness that says you put your heart into it.
The second is a honey stout mustard, which is also excellent on bratwurst and just about anything you put on the grill. It has to soak for hours in Guinness stout and then needs at least two weeks to age, so start now.
The third is horseradish, which can also be made into a milder creamy horseradish sauce. This is a plant I grow in the yard, up against the house where I used to have water intrusion issues. Since this plant absorbs lots of water, it’s perfect wherever you have too much water! It’s a tuber with leaves that look a little bit like a small tobacco plant and is ready to harvest in late summer to early fall. Just in time for kick-off and for those of you near the coast, oyster season!
- ½ lb thick cut bacon
- 1 extra-large Vidalia onion, quartered and thickly sliced
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup strong brewed coffee
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Cut the bacon into half-inch slices and add them to a large frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the bacon is cooked but still quite chewy. A few crispy bites are ok.
- Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings and reserve for another use.
- Add the onions and mustard seeds to the pan and cook for about 8-10 minutes then reduce the heat to low. Add the sugar and stir.
- Continue to cook until the onions have caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the coffee and the reserved bacon and increase the heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring about every five minutes, until the onions are thick and jam-like, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir through the balsamic.
- Taste for seasoning, and salt if necessary.
*Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a week. Bring back to room temperature before serving. There will be little spots of white fat when you take it out of the fridge. As the jam comes to room temperature, these will disappear.
Honey Stout Mustard
- 3 oz jar yellow mustard seeds
- 3 oz jar brown mustard seeds
- 2 oz bottle Guinness stout
- 3 oz cider vinegar
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1 small bay leaf
- ½ small onion, finely minced (optional, but why not?)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp local honey, more if you want it sweeter
- 1 oz mustard powder
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- Soak mustard seeds in stout, covered, for at least 4 hours (add more stout if necessary to keep seeds covered). Soak peppercorns and bay leaf in vinegar for 4 hours, covered. *Meanwhile, drink the rest of the beer.
- Remove peppercorns and bay leaf from vinegar. In a heavy saucepan, combine vinegar with the onion, garlic, brown sugar, honey, mustard powder, allspice, turmeric, and salt. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until reduced by half (about 10 to 15 minutes).
- Pour reduced liquid through a strainer into mustard-and-stout mixture. Process in food processor or blender until very coarsely ground. (I like the mustard seeds to be more or less whole.)
- Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened (it will thicken more as it cools).
- Let cool and pack into sterilized jars and cover tightly. *Age the mustard a least a week or two before tasting. Store, refrigerated, for up to 2 years, if it lasts that long. Mustard does lose potency over time. Yields 24 oz. I like to use wide-mouth jars, but 3 jelly jars will work just fine.
- 8 to 10-inch long piece of horseradish root
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- Dig up or buy an 8 to 10-inch horseradish root. You will need a shovel, as horseradish can’t be pulled up by hand.
- Remove the leaves and rinse off the dirt, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the surface skin off the tuber.
- Chop into small pieces.
- Grind chopped horseradish in food processor along with water and salt. *Work in a well-ventilated room and keep the horseradish away from eyes and mouth, as fresh horseradish is extremely potent! The vinegar will stabilize the level of hotness of ground horseradish, so the longer you wait to add the vinegar, the stronger the horseradish will get. Once added, the vinegar stops the process.
- Using a spatula, transfer the horseradish to a jar. Store refrigerated for up to 4 weeks.
To mellow out horseradish and make a creamy sauce, add ¼ cup sour cream and ¼ cup mayonnaise to ½ cup of prepared horseradish. Stabilize with 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice, ½ tsp of Kosher salt, ¼ tsp white (or black) pepper, and a few drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce. You may also add up to 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Refrigerate and serve within 1 week.