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“Chicken Dressed as Duck” Burgers

The inspiration for these burgers comes from my fond memory of a favorite aunt who used to refer to other women her age who dressed "with airs" as "mutton dressed as lamb"! Now, we love our duck burgers, but they can be pricey to make for a crowd. So I decided to make my burgers with all the accoutrements that I usually choose for duck, substituting chicken thighs instead, thus my "Chicken Dressed as Duck" Burgers. And I don't think these little chicks need to apologize for anything!



2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons Sutter Home White Merlot
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Colavita
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1/2 pound fresh sweet red cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 teaspoon French chile powder (piment d’espelette) or hot paprika
1 teaspoon finely chopped crystalized ginger
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 small cloves garlic, mashed
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
2 cups baby arugula
6 brioche sandwich rolls, split


Heat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a food processor. Add the bacon, parsley, thyme, and garlic and pulse until uniformly chopped. Remove the mixture to a bowl and add the panko, wine, salt, and pepper. Mix lightly with a fork to combine. Form into 6 patties, about 1-inch thick, and refrigerate.

To make the mostarda, place a fireproof skillet on the grill rack and add the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until slightly translucent. Add the cherries, chile powder, ginger, honey, vinegar, and mustard. Stir to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened but cherries still have texture, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

To make the aioli,  combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to blend. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the burgers.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done, about 5 minutes on each side. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, place the rolls, cut sides down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, spread the cut sides of the rolls with the aioli. Place a portion of the arugula on each roll bottom, followed by a patty and a portion of the mostarda. Add the roll tops and serve.


NOTE: I've experimented a lot with chicken burgers, usually choosing thigh meat over breast, but if preferred, 1 pound each breast and thigh meat may be ground together and still result in a juicy, tasty burger.

With its cherry-forward flavors, I think Sutter Home White Merlot is the perfect wine accompaniment for these spicy/sweet-topped, grill-flavorful burgers.