Duck burger with red wine caramelized onions, blue cheese sauce and shaved Brussels sprouts
By Bri Van Scotter, Wilderness to Table
After a busy week, nothing beats a tender, juicy burger, hot off the grill. Except, maybe, this fresh and delicious take on the American classic, made with ground duck meat, red wine caramelized onions, blue cheese sauce and a Brussels sprouts slaw.
Part of what makes this burger so uniquely delicious is how it’s cooked — which, by the way, isn’t on a grill at all. Instead, this recipe calls for cast-iron cooking.
It starts with the onions, which are caramelized over medium-high heat in a mixture of unsalted butter and red wine. I recommend using a cabernet, which is known for its savory, dark-fruit flavor. Foods with a high fat content pair best with a cabernet sauvignon, so don’t worry about trimming your duck thighs prior to grinding.
Once your onions are soft and seasoned, it’s time to fry up your duck burgers. This is one of the benefits to cooking in a cast-iron skillet, as opposed to the grill. Rather than losing all those delicious juices to the coals, your freshly ground and seasoned patties will continue to marinate in the pan, even as the meat is cooking.
You’ll notice that this recipe calls for pancetta as well as duck meat. You may be wondering if it’s alright to leave that out, but we recommend you don’t. Pancetta is a seasoned, salt-cured meat made from pork belly. And as such, it adds a spectacular salty-sweet flavor to the ground duck. Plus, the pancetta also increases the fat content of the meat, which, as you might recall, pairs particularly well with those cabernet-caramelized onions.
If you’re struggling to find pancetta at your local grocery store, you can substitute it with an equal helping of bacon, depending on how rare or well-done you like your burgers.
The FDA recommends cooking duck meat to an internal temperature of 160-170 degrees. Some cooks prefer a bit more pink, around 135-140 degrees. If that’s you, stick with the pancetta, which may be eaten uncooked. Bacon, on the other hand, must be fully cooked to avoid food-borne illnesses, so patties should be cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Serve this gorgeous burger with a side of roasted potato wedges and mixed greens, tossed with balsamic vinaigrette. And don’t let the rest of that cabernet go to waste — this is one Friday night dish that deserves a toast.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Ingredients for duck burger and sauce with shaved Brussels sprouts
For the duck burger:
- 2 pounds duck breast and deboned duck thighs
- 1/4 cup diced pancetta
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
For the red wine caramelized onions:
- 3 red onions, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup red wine of choice (cabernet is recommended)
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
For the shaved Brussels sprouts:
- 3 cups brussels sprouts, shaved or sliced really thin
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
For the blue cheese sauce:
- 1/4 cup of buttermilk
- 1/4 cup of sour cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese, divided
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Plus 4 hamburger buns of choice, preferably brioche buns
- Run the duck meat and the pancetta through your meat grinder two times with a small die. Once the meat is ground, divide it into four 8-ounce balls. Gently press the balls into patties, about 1/2 inch thick.
- After the meat is ground, make the red wine caramelized onions. In a large skillet, combine your sliced onions and unsalted butter. Heat over medium-high. Gently stir the onions every so often. Once the onions are slightly golden in color, add the red wine and cinnamon. Cook the onions until the red wine has completely dissolved and the onions are fully cooked.
- While the onions are cooking, prepare the Brussels sprout slaw. In a large bowl, combine the shaved Brussels sprouts and balsamic vinegar. Toss well to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a sauce pot set over medium heat, add the buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and half of the blue cheese crumbles. Whisk everything to combine. Once the blue cheese crumbles have melted into the sauce, remove the pan from the heat, then add the remaining crumbled blue cheese to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the duck patties in a large cast-iron skillet. Add about 3 tablespoons of avocado or vegetable oil to the pan. Set the pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the patties to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip the patties and cook for another 3 minutes or until cooked through.
- To assemble the burger, place a duck patty on the bottom bun. Top the patty with shaved Brussels sprouts, red wine caramelized onions and blue cheese sauce. Enjoy!
Bri Van Scotter is a professional Chef & Pastry Chef who turned into a hunter to source the purest proteins possible. She is creator of Wilderness to Table, a Television Host, Author and a hunter who is on a mission to prove there is more to wild game than grilling a backstrap!