Lake County Venison Burger with Huckleberry Compote and Arugula

Lake County Venison Burger with Huckleberry Compote and Arugula
Jump to Recipe 👇

About This Recipe

There's something truly special about Lake County and its stunning landscape that inspires me as a home chef. With its lush forests, abundant wildlife, and crystal-clear lakes, it's no wonder that I found the perfect ingredients for this Lake County Venison Burger with Huckleberry Compote and Arugula. As a Napa Valley local, I've been fortunate to have access to a wide variety of fresh ingredients, allowing me to create authentic dishes that capture the spirit of our beautiful region.

One of the things I love most about this recipe is the way it combines the rustic flavors of Lake County with the sophistication of Napa Valley's wine country. The rich, gamey venison comes from local farms, while the sweet and tangy huckleberry compote is made with handpicked berries from the surrounding forests. The peppery arugula adds a touch of freshness that ties the whole dish together. It's a true farm-to-table experience that showcases the bounty of our region.

To create the perfect wine country meal, I suggest serving the Venison Burger with a simple side of garlic-roasted fingerling potatoes and a crisp green salad featuring local baby lettuces and shaved fennel. For dessert, a light and airy lemon panna cotta topped with a sprig of fresh mint would make a delightful end to the meal. These dishes all highlight the fresh, local ingredients that make Napa Valley and Northern California's cuisine so special.

As for wine pairings, a rich and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or a complex and bold Syrah would complement the robust flavors of the venison and huckleberry compote. I recommend trying wines from Silver Oak Cellars, known for their iconic Cabernet Sauvignon, or exploring the offerings from smaller, lesser-known wineries like Matthiasson, with their artisanal approach to winemaking. For a more intimate and off-the-beaten-path experience, consider a visit to Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery, nestled high in the Spring Mountain District.

Sourcing ingredients locally is part of the magic of living in wine country. In Napa Valley, we have a wealth of farmers' markets and specialty stores that showcase the best of our region's produce. Check out the St. Helena Farmers' Market or Napa Valley Olive Oil Company for fresh, local ingredients that will elevate your home cooking.

The beauty of Napa Valley and the surrounding regions is not just in the landscape, but in the rich culinary heritage that has been cultivated over the years. From the early days of wine production to the development of world-class restaurants and farm-to-table dining experiences, the spirit of innovation and collaboration is alive and well in our corner of the world. So, as you enjoy this Lake County Venison Burger with Huckleberry Compote and Arugula, raise a glass to the countless farmers, winemakers, and culinary artists who have made it all possible. Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Venison

When it comes to showcasing the rustic flavors of Lake County, venison stands out as the hero ingredient in our Lake County Venison Burger. Sourced from local farms, venison carries a unique, rich, and gamey flavor profile. This meat is not only delicious but also leaner than beef and packed with essential nutrients like protein, iron, and B vitamins. Its sustainable sourcing from managed populations ensures a culinary treat that's kinder to our planet.

How to Achieve the Perfect Venison Patty

Venison, due to its lean nature, can become dry if not handled properly. Here’s how you can ensure a juicy patty every time:

  1. Marinating: Given its gamey profile, venison benefits from marinating. While our recipe uses breadcrumbs and finely chopped onion to maintain moisture, marinating in a simple concoction of olive oil, rosemary, and crushed garlic can further enhance the meat’s flavor and texture.
  2. Avoid Overmixing: When combining venison with breadcrumbs and other ingredients, mix just until combined. Overmixing can make the patties tough.
  3. Perfect Grilling: Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Given its leanness, venison cooks quicker than beef. For medium-rare burgers, grill for about 4-5 minutes per side. Adjust based on your desired level of doneness.


  1. Can I use an alternative to venison? Absolutely. While venison gives this burger its distinctive flavor, you can substitute it with ground beef or turkey. Adjust cooking times accordingly.
  2. What if I can’t find huckleberries? Huckleberries have a distinct taste, but blueberries can serve as a close substitute in the compote. Adjust sugar as per the sweetness of the berries.
  3. How do I store leftover huckleberry compote? Store the compote in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Warm it slightly before using.
  4. Are there any cheese alternatives to goat cheese? Certainly! Feta or blue cheese crumbles can offer a tangy counterpoint to the gamey flavor of venison.
  5. I have a nut allergy. Are brioche buns safe? Most brioche buns don’t contain nuts. However, always check the ingredients list and be mindful of cross-contamination in bakeries.

Tips for Success

  1. Freshness Matters: Use fresh arugula for that peppery kick. Wilted or older leaves can become bitter.
  2. Customize Your Compote: Depending on your preference, you can adjust the sugar or add a pinch of chili flakes to the huckleberry compote for an extra layer of flavor.
  3. Rest the Patties: After grilling, let your venison patties rest for a few minutes before assembling. This ensures that the juices redistribute throughout the meat, giving you a juicier bite.

Savoring the Lake County Venison Burger with Huckleberry Compote and Arugula not only offers a tantalizing taste of the region’s bounties but also immerses you in a tradition of fresh, farm-to-table dining. Enjoy every bite!

Recipe Overview

Lake County Venison Burger with Huckleberry Compote and Arugula
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 1 lb ground venison
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup huckleberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 4 brioche burger buns, split and toasted
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine ground venison, breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well, then form into four patties.
  2. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Grill the patties for 5-6 minutes per side, or until cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  3. While the burgers cook, prepare the huckleberry compote. In a small saucepan, combine huckleberries, sugar, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the huckleberries are softened and the liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. To assemble the burgers, spread a generous spoonful of huckleberry compote on the bottom half of each bun. Top with a venison patty, crumbled goat cheese, and a handful of arugula. Finish with the top half of the bun and serve immediately.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

About Me

Don't miss a recipe!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Coming soon - Cookbook!

Loving Napa Home Chef Recipes and wishing for more? Discover print exclusives!

Napa Recipe Cookbook: Napa Home Chef
Arugula and Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts
Heirloom Carrot and Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula and Candied Walnuts
Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Aioli
Maple, Walnut & Bacon Brie Bites
Wild Boar and Porcini Lasagna Soup
Earl Grey Crème Brûlée
Apple, Kale, and Blue Cheese Pizza with a Walnut Pesto Base
Grilled Ribeye Steak with Cabernet Franc Reduction
Black Currant and Wild Boar Pizza
Mushroom Toast with Garlic Aioli and Fresh Herbs
Roasted Turkey and Cranberry Chutney Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread

Mandatory (inedible) cookies. By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.