Chicken and leek is one of those flavour combo no-brainers. Add some mushrooms to the mix, top it with flaky puff pastry and you have a pretty awesome chicken pot pie. But Merlot and I like shaking things up a bit in the kitchen. So we wondered what would happen if I took this traditional flavour combination and put it in burger drag.

I cooked the leeks low and slow in plenty of butter until they turned irresistably sweet and soft. Then I mixed it in with some chicken mince and in the pan my patties went. Once cooked, I topped them with Emmental cheese and put the lid back on for the cheese to melt. Oh boy, leeky, cheesy, chickeny awesomeness.

If you are doing the banting thing, you can leave out the bread and just sandwich these chicken and leek burgers between two giant black mushrooms. That’s not how I roll so, in addition to the mushrooms, I cut peasant-thick slices of ciabatta, gave them a kiss olive oil, a touch of garlic and a scattering of rosemary and under the grill they went. Burgers need sauce, so I served a lovely store-bought chilli-tomato jam on the side. Chicken and leek. What a combo.

All you need is…

400g chicken mince
(or 4 large skinless chicken breasts chopped in your food processor.)
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
2 cups finely sliced leeks (white part only)
3 tbs salted butter
½ cup grated Emmental cheese
4 large black mushrooms (8 if you are leaving out the bread)
olive oil
4 thick slices ciabatta
1 clove garlic
sprig of fresh rosemary
lettuce, for serving
store-bought chilli-tomato jam, for serving

Sweat the leeks in the butter over a low temperature until they are soft and sweet. Add the leeks, salt and pepper to the chicken and mix thoroughly. Form burger patties, cover with cling film and place them in the fridge for 15 minutes.

In the meantime make your ciabatta by placing the slices on a baking tray under the grill until they are toasted on the one side. Remove and rub the toasted side lightly with a clove of garlic. Turn over, drizzle the other side with olive oil and place back under the grill to toast. Toss rosemary leaves in a bit of olive oil and scatter them over the ciabatta slices for the last minute of grilling. (If you add them earlier, they’ll burn.)

Cook your mushrooms in olive oil with a bit of butter until done and remove from heat.
Fry the patties in olive oil until done. Chicken has to be cooked through, so keep the temperature medium-low. If you cook them too fast, they will be burnt on the outside and raw inside. Once cooked, sprinkle he cheese over the patties and cover with the lid for a few seconds. The steam from the pan will gently melt the cheese.

Reheat the mushrooms if need be and assemble your burger with the lettuce leaves. How you build and stack your burger it is up to you, but for me a good burger must be like an up-hairdo from the 60s – the higher the better. So for stability, I skewer my sky-high creations with an elegant little bamboo kebab stick.




15 min


15 min


tips, tricks and trivia

Making the perfect burger pattie

I dislike forming my burger patties by hand because you invariably end up with thinner sides than middle, causing it to cook unevenly. Nope, for a burger pattie that is perfectly round and evenly thick, I use a large round cookie cutter or shallow food ring to shape my patties.

If you don’t have that, don’t spend money. Simply use a can opener to remove the top and bottom lid of a tuna can, give it a good wash and use that as you burger pattie shaper.

enjoy with

I just love, love, love the new trend of blending Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to make delightfully soft pink wines. Consumers are clearly loving it as well, because more and more estates are doing it. Yay! Two of my favourite offerings are from Leopard’s Leap. Their pocket-friendly Classic one is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. It’s bursting with raspberry and Turkish Delight with supporting notes of apple and warm citrus. A perfect any-occasion wine, it’s available on their very user-friendly website at just R42 a bottle.

Their second offering in this vein is their Culinaria Collection Pinot Noir Chardonnay. Pinot makes up a whopping 55% of the blend, accounting for a strong note of spice to offset luscious fruit notes of pear, cranberry and pomegranate.

At R75 online, it’s wonderful value for money for a very well balanced structured wine that pairs well with practically anything. Try both, you won’t be disappointed.



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