Duck Burgers With Pickled Fennel and Prune Mayonnaise


[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

My favorite way to eat anything is to have it in a sandwich. I tried an amazing duck confit sandwich with Savora (a French mustard-based condiment) and arugula at Borough Market in London, and I just thought, let's do a duck burger.

Duck is such an interesting canvas on which to build flavor. It loves savory, but it also loves sweet. Being playful with the meat in a burger means you can be playful with the rest of it as well, which is why I opted for quick-pickled fennel and prune mayonnaise to pair with the more traditional green lettuce and brioche bun.

I start by separating duck breasts from their skins and roughly grinding them in a food processor with chives and whole grain mustard—an old-school base. To cook the patties, I render the fat out of one of the skins in a pan, then sear the patties in the duck fat. For the topping, I wanted something sweet and savory, thinking that just a little bit of sweetness would help cut through the fattiness and gaminess of the duck and lend some freshness. Pickled fennel does the trick: after soaking in a simple vinegar-water-sugar-salt bath while the burgers cook, the fennel comes out tart but also full of anise-flavored crunch. The mayo is just some blitzed prunes—they remind me of meat dishes in France—mixed with good French mayo.

The whole burger is both familiar and unorthodox, and very Franco-American—very me!