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We were offered two dead wild ducks a few weeks ago, feathers and all. Our friend Niall kindly dealt with the feathers and delivered a bag of fresh duck breasts and legs to our door. Lucky us! We minced the duck meat with a bit of pork fat (you could use duck skin too if you have it) and made these burgers seasoned with Rick Stein’s pepper mix, which we’re looking forward to seasoning all sorts of things with. We bought the dried chillies in a Mexican food shop but you should be able to get them online too. Best served with fries.

Wine Suggestion: Choose a medium bodied red with refined tannins for this dish. Despite the Mexican chillies in the spice mix this is a very French inspired meal, one you might easily find on holiday there. So for this we chose our favourite, the Chateau du Hureau Saumur-Champigny “Tuffe”. Cabernet Franc from the Loire at it’s best and a good match.

Duck burgers – serves 4

  • 800 duck meat (breast, leg or both), plus about 100-150g fat and skin if you have it, or some pork fat
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Rick’s peppermix (see below)
  • 80g cheese e.g. Comté or Gruyère, cut into slices
  • 4 brioche burger buns
  • 2-3 tsp grainy mustard
  • a large handful of rocket
  • 1 tsp walnut oil (or just use good olive oil)
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced (we’re not so keen on raw onion in our burgers so we cut the onion into chunky slices, rub with some seasoning a little oil and barbecue on soft and charred)
  • 1 dill pickle, sliced (we used cornichons)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 2 tbsp mustard mayonnaise (mix a little Dijon mustard into good-quality mayonnaise)

FOR THE PEPPERMIX:

  • 1 chipotle chilli, seeds removed
  • 1 pasilla chilli, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp salt

Make the peppermix by blitzing all of the ingredients together in a spice grinder. Store in a jar and use to season other things, it’s great on a steak.

If there is fat on the duck, pull it off and mince the meat with about 100-150g of fat and the skin (we didn’t have fat and skin so we added a bit of pork fat instead). Season the mince with the salt and 1 tsp of the peppermix. Damp your hands a bit and make four burgers. Cover and leave them in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.

You can cook the burgers on a hot barbecue or if you prefer to cook indoors a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Cook the burgers for a few minutes on each side, then add a slice of cheese to each, turn of the heat and leave to sit for a minute to let the cheese melt.

Lightly toast the buns and spread the cut surfaces with grainy mustard. Dress the rocket with a little walnut oil or good olive oil.

Serve the burgers on a bun topped with onion, cornichon/dill pickle, tomato, mustard mayonnaise and rocket. Serve with fries.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

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