Canada burger recipe

Caramelized onion, Cheese, gravy and French-fry (poutine) smothered burger.
Next stop, Canada!  I keep hearing the refrain from the South Park Movie – Blame Canada.  It’s been really annoying.  The whole time I’ve been working on Canada, it keeps looping, repeating incessantly in my head (I know that’s redundant, but that’s how annoying it is).  The worst part is that “Blame Canada” are the only words I remember, so I can’t really seem to get closure, cause I can’t finish the song.  I’m hoping that writing this up and moving on to the next country will be the fix I need.  So, Canada is a really big country at the northern end of North America.  It spans the full continent east to west, so it’s pretty big :).

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

I grew up in Michigan and Canada was so close I barely thought of it as a different country, let alone foreign.  I’ve been to Canada more times than I can remember, I have eaten in many fine Canadian restaurants, and I’ve even been in love with a Canadian.  But when I started thinking about a burger recipe, I was stumped.  There isn’t any food that I’ve had in Canada that I thought of as quintessentially Canadian.  The food is similar to what we have in the U.S. and the burgers are pretty much the same too.  So, I decided to treat Canada like any other country and research it – go online and see what people say about Canadian food.  It seems most countries have one or two dishes that people (either from that country or not) deem “the national dish”.  Canada is no different.  Poutine is the dish that gets the most mentions as “the national dish”.  It’s also a dish that you can’t get too many other places (although the Internet claims that it’s served in a lot of places in the Midwest U.S., I have never seen it on a menu in the States.

Poutine is pretty simple, French fries, gravy and fresh cheese curd.  It’s usually served as dish unto itself, but I, of course, figured it would be just as good on a burger!  Good so far, now the problems begin.  Fresh cheese curd is impossible to find, ok, not impossible, just really difficult.  I called local cheese shops, I tried to order online ($50 for shipping because it has to be over-nighted!  No way!), I finally gave up and decided to use fresh mozzarella and melt it on the burger and give up on the “squeak” of fresh curd.  I didn’t give up exactly, I also ordered a cheese making kit and will try to make some curd myself, but that isn’t going to happen for a couple of weeks, so we’ll proceed without it.  I’ll be sure to write up the cheese making experience when I get time to try it – but I’m figuring most of you aren’t interested in making your own cheese, right?

Now for the gravy.  The most common is a light gravy – chicken/poultry based.  If you want to get all French and chefy, velouté.  I was hoping that I could get gravy from the grocery store where they have the rotisserie chickens and that it would taste good.  Neither of the stores I went to sold gravy with their chickens (what do they do with the drippings?).  So then I tried dry packets, cartons and jars of pre-made sauce.  I won’t name the brands because all of the dried packets were TERRIBLE!  The best tasted like thyme and nothing else, the worst tasted like feet.  None tasted like chicken.  So, I bought some chicken thighs and roasted them with a few mushrooms and made a gravy from the drippings and water.  It was delicious and the chicken meat made a good salad.  If you get in a bind, the best pre-made gravy I found was Heinz Home Style Chicken Gravy – in a jar, but I recommend just making a white sauce with homemade chicken stock, it’s got a much better flavor.

For the fries I just bought frozen fries.  Yes, homemade fries would be better, but they are a pain to make and the frozen alternative is so easy.  Also, it’s hard to get a crispy homemade French fry, and you do want them crispy so that the whole burger doesn’t turn into a soggy mess.

Lastly I broke with poutine tradition and added caramelized onions to the top – the sweetness and the moisture worked perfectly with the fries and the gravy and gave a greater richness to the dish.  We served our burgers with a Washington State cabernet (my store doesn’t carry Canadian wines) and it was light and balanced the potentially heaviness of the dish (we also decided to go open faced in order to not over starch ourselves).  The result was a rich savory burger that was surprisingly not overly heavy.  The light mushroom flavor in the gravy really added to the overall effect.  I still think it’s suited more to autumn or winter than a warm August evening, but what the heck do I know?

Canadian Burger
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
4 Brioche buns
butter (at room temperature)
2 cups cooked French fries (preferably thick cut)
2 cups Chicken Gravy
Caramelized onions

Mix ground beef with salt and pepper and form into 4 patties.  Grill to desired temperature.  In the meantime, slice the brioche buns and spread butter on each side, grill until lightly browned (you can also use just two buns if you want to do open faced sandwiches).  Placed cooked patties on the grilled buns.  Add fries to each burger then pour on a generous helping of gravy and top with caramelized onions.  Serve hot.

Chicken Gravy
4 chicken thighs (bone in and skin on)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 mushrooms quartered and stemmed
1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1-2 cups water
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour

Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry.  Sprinkle salt and thyme over both sides of chicken.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  In an ovenproof skillet, heat oil to shimmering.  Place chicken in pan skin side down and cook until lightly browned (about 3 minutes).  Turn chicken, add mushrooms and chicken stock and put in over for 15 minutes.  Add water and cook for an additional 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Strain the drippings (use the chicken for another dish).  Taste the drippings and adjust seasoning.

In a saucepan, melt butter over med-low heat.  Add the flour stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the chicken drippings whisking vigorously.  Turn the heat to med-high and whip until sauce comes to a boil.  Stir for another minute until it reaches desired thickness.  Use immediately.

Caramelized onions
2 large onions sliced in halve then sliced into ¼ inch slices
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and stir until well coated with oil.  Turn heat down to med-low and cook for 20-30 minutes until sweet and soft.


©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach


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15 Responses to Canada burger recipe

  1. snozberries says:

    This looks so gooood!

  2. Lara Costa says:

    Oh, sweetie! I didn’t know you were in love with me! Poutine rules btw. We can get it here in Ft Lauderdale in a really “rustic” looking drive-in…

    • linda says:

      My love for you is deep and never wavering 🙂 I can’t believe you have Poutine in Ft. Lauderdale – strange world! and why did your mother never make this delicious snack for us? I think I’m going to try making homemade cheese curd next weekend – pray for me!

  3. Carl H says:

    As Canadian cuisine hasn’t such a strong identity, but many ingredients and combinations to offer. I think there’s lots of combinations you can imagine on a Canadian burger. Salmon burger with berries? Caribou burger? Minced raw seal tartar a la Nunavut, garnished with a little geoduck on the side? Just putting some maple syrup and bacon on a “normal” burger would be quite enough. Quite delicious, but maybde not that exiting. The possible variations could be endless, but I’m glad you’ve gone down the delicious Poutine-road. Well done.

    As for the gravy, I wouldn’t make the kerfuffle to roast another tray of chicken if I’ve already roasted some for the home-made chicken stock. If I would make your recipe I’d probably just make the stock from scratch roast some carcasses of chicken (which I collect in my freezer – yes it’s weird), or some chicken legs, and then simmer them for quite some time with vegetables (mainly onion, celery, carrot), then adding mushrooms, thyme etc. Strain and thicken for gravy deliciousness. Your version would probably be quite intense flavour-wise, but normally I wouldn’t think that will be necessary.

    • linda says:

      lol – I don’t think I could ever use a geoduck for anything – they just freak me out! I had several people suggest the maple syrup on bacon idea, and I agree it would be yummy but… zzzzzzzzz. Whenever possible I like to try new things with these recipes, keeps me from getting bored 🙂

      I agree with you on the gravy – I always have chicken parts and vegetable parts in the freezer to make homemade stock and, with homemade stock, you can make a very respectable veloute. The recipe here is just in case you aren’t prone to making homemade stock and need to whip something together. If you already have the stock this is easily the simplest recipe I’ve created to date.

  4. Anny says:

    I stumbled across your site recently.
    As a Canadian gotta say I love your Canada burger, think you did really well on this one. Honestly I have actually seen burgers like this on restaurant menus. You could have gone totally stereotypical and sandwiched the poutine burger between two pancakes and smothered in maple syrup but that would have been overkill. However when cooking like a Canadian remember everything is better with bacon 😉

    In response to Carl H.’s suggestions:
    This burger is very eastern/central Canadian, the suggestion of a salmon burger with berries fits British Columbia, cariboo are endangered so I wouldn’t go with that, and although I have eaten moose I don’t know anyone who eats geoduck.

    • linda says:

      Thanks Anny. I’m glad you enjoyed the burger recipe. Good point on the bacon, that seems to be something Canadians and Americans can agree on, everything is better with bacon. 🙂

  5. VE says:

    Actually, here in New Jersey (and metro New York), Poutine (or something very close to it) is a common diner food – usually called “Disco Fries” or just “Cheese Fries with Gravy” – french fries, with melted cheese (usually mozzarella- some will give you whatever cheese you want) and a healthy dose of Brown Gravy (often served on the side). Mozzarella is the closest thing you can get to raw cheese curd without making it yourself, or special ordering it, so it’s a pretty close approximation.

    • linda says:

      I’m amazed I never came across poutine in all my travels – growing up in Michigan, trips to Canada, and plenty of diners in NY and NJ – still, it seems I have led a sheltered life! I did buy a cheese making kit and have it on my list to make some fresh curd, but glad that mozzarella doesn’t seem to bother most as a substitute.
      Thanks for your comment VE

  6. c says:

    next time you make a canadian burger, get some ground bison.
    you’ll never go back to beef burgers.

    • linda says:

      duly noted, I’ll give bison a try some time. I’ve tried buffalo, but didn’t care for it.

      oops, ok, my husband tells me bison and buffalo are the same thing 🙂

  7. Jill says:

    Stumbled across this while image searching “Blame Canada” and I can’t wait to try it! Poutine/disco fries are served all across Dallas/Ft. Worth in all kinds of restaurants….but I’ve never thought of eating it on a burger. I know what I’m doing this weekend! Great site!

    • linda says:

      I love that searching “Blame Canada” brought you to my sight – that’s awesome! I hope you enjoy the burgers

  8. Pingback: Top 10 Canadian Recipes

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