1/2 teaspoon juniper berries
8 ounces fatty pork, such as pork belly, ground
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon white wine
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
A little canola or olive oil
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 to 3 pears, cored and thickly sliced
1 1/2 pounds venison shoulder, coarsely ground
8 slices good white bread or rolls, such as sourdough or ciabatta
Put the juniper berries, bay leaves, sage, peppercorns, and salt into a coffee or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder (or chop the bay leaves very finely, then pound to a powder with the other ingredients using a mortar and pestle).
Place the seasoning mixture in a bowl with the meat, add the wine, and mix with your hands until well combined. Let stand for an hour for the flavors to develop.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan, break off a small piece of the mixture, and fry it until cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Don’t be tempted to add too much more in the way of spices, as the flavor will develop as the burgers cook – what you’re really checking for is saltiness.
Shape the meat into 8 patties about 3/4 inch thick and fry in a lightly oiled grill pan, or grill them for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well browned and cooked through. Remove the burgers to a warm plate and let rest while you fry the pears.
In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it is foaming, add the pears and cook, turning occasionally, until they start to take on a little color but still hold their shape
Serve the burgers on thickly sliced bread or in rolls, topped with the sautéed pears. I like to rub the cut sides of the bread in the pan juices before adding the burger.