The Duck Whopper — Alpha stage

Ever on the lookout for tasty, juicy hamburgers — and always willing to help reduce the Greater Daglan Area’s chronic duck surplus — my wife and I recently decided to try a friend’s suggestion to incorporate duck breast into our burgers.

The point of the exercise, of course, is that the lean duck meat should add flavour to the beef, while the fat layer on the duck should help make the burgers extra juicy.

I started out at the butcher shop we favour in Castelnaud, where I bought a magret de canard (a lean duck breast, with a cap of fat on top) and a relatively small amount of beef — the same cut of lean beef that I buy for steak tartare.

Because we figured this was a bit of an experiment, my wife Jan used her handy electronic kitchen scale to weigh the meat before chopping it in our food processor, along with a good amount of salt and pepper. Turns out we had 284 grams of beef (that’s about 10 ounces) and 182 grams of duck meat and fat (about six ounces). Add the 10 ounces to the six, and you get a full pound. Just right (we figured) for two large burgers.

Here’s how the burgers looked, after Jan shaped the meat:

Burgers uncooked

Our two whoppers are presented for further treatment.

Then she seasoned a bit more with salt and pepper, and added olive oil to keep the meat from sticking to our grill. At this point we decided that we might as well cook the remainder of the duck breast on the grill, so that we could slice it for use in a salad later on. Here’s how the meat looked, just before I took it outside to the barbecue (you’ll notice that we scored the layer of fat on the duck breast):

Burgers and duck

Two burgers and one half a duck breast, oiled for the grill.

It turned out that the burgers were both large and dense, and so it took a fair amount of time before I pronounced them cooked (checking their internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer). And here’s mine, topped with some mayonnaise and ketchup as well as a slice of tomato, with helping of cabbage-and-carrot slaw on the side:

Finished burger

The burger is set to go, along with some cabbage-and-carrot slaw.

The verdict? Quite tasty, but somewhat less juicy than we had expected. I think that when we go into beta testing, we’ll choose a fattier cut of beef to chop with the duck.

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8 Responses to The Duck Whopper — Alpha stage

  1. Double D's says:

    Excellent effort. We have been thinking about ingredients for an Earth, Wind and Fire burger and this gives us an idea. Although the “Fire” could be the grill maybe some Jalapeno cheese would be in order along with the less lean beef.

  2. Double D — Yes, I like the “fire” coming from a hot pepper of some sort. As for “wind,” maybe you could add beans to the mix!

  3. Allan Schlar says:

    Ordering 2 whoppers via Fedex. Sounds yummy.

  4. Thanks Allan! But wait until beta-testing is complete…

  5. Sharon says:

    Loren and Jan, when I watch the chefs on TV making burgers, they almost always add fine bread crumbs — not as “filler” but to loosen the meat and to avoid that density you describe. I always have a tub of home-made crumbs in the freezer and I add a couple of tablespoons to the ground meat. It makes the burger easier to eat — it’s less tough.

  6. Sharon, excellent point. I tend to think of bread crumbs as an ingredient of meat loaf, but not hamburgers. I still think that with the right cut (or “grind”) of meat, the bread crumbs are not necessary. (We may have over-blitzed our meat in the food processor.) But you do raise a very valid point. Thanks!

  7. Double D says:

    DD’s would consider adding the crunchy slaw on top of the burger instead of using it as a side. We also think you are on to something interesting; who has mashed French Cuisine with back yard BBQ?

  8. Rob says:

    Sweet god almighty, I like how you live.

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