The burger: “Turducken Burger” appears as if it was plucked from the Minnesota State Fair’s annual attention-seeking list of new foods. Happily, it’s not. Nope, this gotta-try novelty (think of it as a blue-chip turkey burger) is a star attraction at the recently debuted dinner service at Be’wiched Deli.
For those unfamiliar with the delicacy (popularized by New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme), it’s a de-boned chicken stuffed inside a de-boned duck stuffed inside a nearly de-boned turkey. Be'wiched chef/co-owner Mike Ryan is no stranger to this poultry triple threat. For the past several Thanksgivings, he has fulfilled an ever-growing number of friends-and-family requests for holiday turducken.
When it came time to develop a menu for the North Loop restaurant's dinner service, Ryan was thinking about a burger emphasis. Along with straight-up beef, lamb and turkey variations, his mind kept returning to those Thanksgiving turduckens. Why not give a turducken burger a shot? He got to work.
The patty pretty much follows the spirit of the standard turducken formula, if not the actual format. The bulk of it is a lean, 50-50 mix of ground turkey thighs and ground chicken thighs, formed into a pair of thin 3-oz. patties.
Ryan prepares a duck confit in the traditional manner, then picks the meat from the skin and bones. An ounce of that dark, succulent meat is placed in the center of one of those patties. Then, in a supreme pile-on-the-excess moment, out comes the foie gras. It's a torchon, sliced into a silver dollar-size sliver, and it's placed on top of the duck. That's all covered by a second patty, and the meat is pressed together to form a single jumbo patty.
It’s grilled on a hot cast iron pan until the outer surface is lightly browned, and as the patty cooks, the liver melts, turning this burger into an aristocractic Jucy Lucy.
Garnishes really hit the spot. During the toying-around phase, Ryan tested but ultimately rejected a cherry condiment (“Too sweet,” he said). Then he turned to the medjool date spread that has been a cornerstone of the kitchen’s sublime turkey sandwich since the restaurant debuted nearly eight years ago.
“That was the lazy side of me,” said Ryan with a laugh. “Or maybe it was me wearing my ownership hat, since that spread is already something we have on the production schedule. But then I put on my chef’s hat and said, ‘No, it’s too similar.’” Ultimately, Ryan came up with the right choice: grapes roasted with balsamic vinegar, a quietly sweet foil to the foie gras’ earthy richness.
Kudos also to garden-fresh shredded greens and the tender, wildly juicy, crimson-red tomato slice.
“I’m adamantly opposed to hard pink tomatoes on a sandwich,” said Ryan. Amen to that. “We get our tomatoes from Farmer Bob’s hoop houses for about eight months out of the year, and they’re amazing, Farmer Bob is like a grandfather to me [catch a peek of him on this video]. We hold them on a ripening rack from anywhere between five and eight days, depending upon the tomato.”
As for the bun, they’re baked daily on the premises. Anyone familiar with the kitchen’s genre-defining vegetable burger will recognize it, a soft-yet-sturdy and obviously dairy-packed beauty with a wisp of tangy red onion baked into its golden crown. A quick toast on the grill gives it even more character.
A turducken burger, who would have thought? I loved it, not only for its quirky, out-of-the-box inventiveness, but because it’s delicious. Not that I expected anything less from Be’wiched.
Fries: None. Instead, Ryan tosses in a bag of truffled popcorn, a decision driven by logistics; the Be’wiched kitchen is a deep fryer-free zone. Forget about importing potato chips. “We make everything that we put on our plate, which is why we don’t buy chips,” said Ryan, who said that he has received good-natured push back from peers about the popcorn. “But I don’t care,” he said with a laugh. “It’s one of my favorite snacks.”
Address book: 800 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-767-4330. Turducken burger is available during dinner service, 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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