Duck Patty Melt

Cook up a juicy duck and brisket burger that holds up to all your favorite toppings


What began as a side hustle for a handful of childhood friends and college buddies has grown into a nine-year-old top-shelf hunting lodge in a far-less-traveled chunk of Southern duck country. Mallard Estates Outfitter sprawls over more than five thousand acres of private West Tennessee farmland bordering the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge. When the weather cooperates, the mallard flights are epic.

The property is the family farm of Blake McWilliams, who manages to raise corn and soybeans and keep irrigation pivots running while guiding hunters after ducks, geese, wild turkeys, and deer. During fall and winter, the operation winds up with a lot of waterfowl meat, so McWilliams came up with the idea to grind the duck meat and use it in a patty melt gone wild. “People come to a high-end lodge, and they don’t want a straight-up cheeseburger,” he says. “Well, this is a little bit different.”

McWilliams likes a fifty-fifty blend of duck and brisket for the patty, and he suggests grinding the brisket untrimmed to add a dose of needed fat to the lean wild duck. The homemade sauce, with its slight kick of sriracha, is a must-have addition, but there’s plenty of wiggle room to put a personal spin on the sandwich. Swap out the cheddar for provolone or Swiss. Ditch the dill pickle and add banana peppers. Just stay true to the duck and brisket mix, and you’ll have an off-the-charts lunch.


  • DUCK PATTY MELT (Yield: 4 servings)

    • 1 lb. duck breast meat

    • 1 lb. brisket

    • 3 heaping tbsp. mayonnaise

    • 1½ tbsp. sriracha ketchup

    • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • 1 tbsp. minced garlic

    • 1 tbsp. pickled jalapeño, diced

    • 1 tsp. black pepper

    • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

    • Sugar, to taste

    • 1 stick butter, divided

    • 2 sweet onions, thinly sliced

    • 8 slices Texas toast

    • Olive oil

    • Cavender’s Greek seasoning or other favorite spice blend for burgers

    • 8 slices mild cheddar or other cheese

    • Dill pickle slices


  1. Grind duck meat, then brisket, through the coarse setting on a meat grinder. Place meat in a large bowl and mix well. Run this mixture through the grinder. Divide into 8 balls and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  2. While the meat is cooling, in a small bowl mix mayonnaise, sriracha ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, jalapeños, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and sugar, to taste. Mix well and place in refrigerator.

  3. In a cast-iron skillet, melt ½ stick butter, add onions, and cook over medium-high heat until soft and light brown, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

  4. Butter another pan or cooking surface generously and grill bread until golden brown.

  5. Remove burger balls from refrigerator and turn cooking surface to high. Drizzle olive oil onto cooking surface, and place burger balls about 4 to 5 inches apart, working in batches if needed. Use a large spatula to smash burgers down to about ¼-inch-thick patties. Dust with black pepper, Cavender’s Greek seasoning or other favorite spice blend, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Cook patties for 2 to 3 minutes and flip. Top each patty with cooked onions and 2 slices of mild cheddar or other preferred cheese. Cook until cheese melts down over the onions.

  6. Spread sauce liberally on one side of each piece of grilled Texas toast. Stack two patties on top of each other, add dill pickle slices, assemble sandwich, and serve.