Posted by johngl
Labor Day is upon us! Time to wrap up this Burger Quest.
You might wonder: Why would anyone in their right mind grind a duck into burger meat?
Well, I like duck and I think duck is under-appreciated in this part of the world. Why not burgers? We burger everything else! Is it really such a stretch? I’ve roasted it, confit’d it, grilled it, and made stock out of it. I hadn’t yet tried burgering it (spell check is trying to turn “burgering” into “buggering” which would give that last statement a whole new meaning).
So when Brittany (aka: Stems) suggested that for my finale, I should do “duck burgers and fries cooked in duck fat” it took about 10 seconds before I said: “OK! You’ve got something there.”
I hereby introduce to the world: The Maple Leaf Farms Duck Burger!
What do you mean it looks just like a hamburger? Of course it does, that is the whole point.
My quest for duck took me to several locations around town and I really wanted a fresh one, but alas, had to settle for frozen. This leads me to believe that we don’t eat enough duck; if we ate more of it, stores would stock it. But the lowly quacker is looked upon as a specialty food. We eat it seasonally. Consequently, it’s kinda spendy: the duck I chose was around $17.
When dead and de-feathered, ducks look quite a bit like a chicken. They definitely do not taste like a chicken.
To get going on this quest, I had to dismember the little devil.
I broke it down by cutting off the wings, legs, and thighs, then snapped off the back. The breast was left for another dinner (see, I’m not completely insane).
Most of the meat on a duck is in the breast and all I was using for the burgers were the off-cuts: legs, thighs, wings, and those wonderful back oysters.
De-boned, those parts came out looking like this:
That is a half-stick of frozen butter at the bottom. Yep, these will be Duck Butter Burgers! Duck meat is really pretty lean. Most of the fat resides directly under the skin and helps keep the duck warm on those cold Canadian nights.
I have to say that de-boning the duck took a while; I’d never done it before. Now that I have, it would probably only take me about half the time.
Anyway, we need to grind everything up and season it.
Looks just like regular hamburger, don’t you think?
I used the same seasonings I’ve been using on most of my beef-based burgers: salt, pepper, onion powder, granulated garlic (in nearly equal proportions) and a pinch of pequin powder. I mixed it all up with a spoon (the heat of one’s hands will melt the butter) and popped it into the freezer whilst I worked on the potatoes.
These are Idaho Russet Burbank potatoes cut using a kitchen mandolin. I wanted a smaller gauge fry so it would cook faster at lower heat. I didn’t want to scorch my precious duck fat.
Yes, I am one of those strange people that keeps several quarts of rendered duck fat on hand at all times. Kept in the fridge, it lasts nearly forever. Where did it come from? Well, I do duck confit in the winter and roasting a duck renders out a lot of fat. I just strain it add it to my supply. If you aren’t that motivated, you can buy pints of rendered duck fat at Central Market for about $13 each.
Oh, and don’t forget to render out all that skin. I call it duck bacon. Spread the skin out in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat and let the fat render out. The skin crisps up nicely.
I rendered out nearly a half cup of duck fat from the skin of the neck, back, legs, and thighs. And the bonus is, these crispy duck skin bits are full of flavor. Crush them up on a baked potato sometime. Awesome.
Speaking of potatoes:
Get the duck fat up to about 350°F and drop the fry basket into the fat. I’m using a cast iron skillet as a fryer since it holds heat much better and keeps the temp from going under 300°F. This makes for crispier fries!
After a couple of minutes, the turbulence dies down and the fries start to brown.
I did the fries in a couple of batches. Don’t overload the basket!
Back to the burgers.
I took the duck flesh out of the freezer, shaped up the burgers, and dropped them into another hot heavy skillet. Cook these like any other burger allowing for a nice crust to develop.
By this time, my first batch of fries were done.
After dumping and salting this batch, I dropped the remainder to get them frying. In the mean time, the burgers were nearly there:
I pulled the burger and placed it on the bun:
Then I slathered on the pâté de foie gras (made from duck liver):
Then took a bite:
Between the butter and the foie gras, the richness was amazing. The foie gras started to melt and mix with the butter and juicy duck…but, wait, I spaced something.
I forgot the duck bacon!
I crumbled some of the duck bacon on top of the foie gras. There now, that’s a burger!
We coupled this dinner with a 2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 110 Los Carneros Pinot Noir — a fantastic pairing! A little tight when first opened, this wine blossomed into Burgundian richness that belied its $15 price tab.
Now that we’ve Burgered (not buggered) our way to Labor Day, I’ll probably swear off burgers for a while.
Right, sure I will, who am I kidding. Thanks for joining me. It was a fun ride.