Chicken Burgers

Chicken Burgers, with bacon, barley and leeks and home-made breadcrumbs

Chicken Burgers, with bacon, barley and leeks and home-made breadcrumbs

This was supposed to be chicken pie. Until I realised on the way back from food shopping on Saturday evening that I’d forgotten to buy organic eggs – for the pastry. Oh.

So, after deciding to go with how I would make the filling for a pie I then wrapped the cooked chicken and stuff in Savoy cabbage leaves. Nice. Still, there are certain foods that I just don’t get – dumplings! That’s one of them. Besides cabbage wrapped chicken. With chicken leftovers, including half a yoghurt and walnut bread in the freezer, I had to have a go at breading these instead. Now that I’ve found this new thing – breadcrumbs. Well, I’ve never been able to eat shop-bought. And now I can’t get enough of home-made. And these Chicken burgers were just right. Almost. Really want to try them with fresh sage. No, not dried that I have in my cupboard. Only fresh would do here.

But that’s for next weekend. Come to think of it, why bother to poach chicken for burgers. Over here minced or ground chicken isn’t readily available, if at all. Beef, lamb, pork, turkey and venison. The latter I must try. It’s just not cold enough to start making stews that take hours. No, it’ll be these sage infused burgers with a salad dressed in home-made mayo (that I couldn’t make last weekend…remember, forgot to buy the eggs). Far more suitable for this weather. And for the onslaught of parties for Hallowe’en and, dare I mention it, Christmas. Phew. You don’t wanna see the expression on my face. Scrooge would be proud of me. Anyway, I’m really into playing with finger food and the like. Not that I’ll be throwing any parties. And, chances are I won’t be going to any. I’ve done my time. However, I’ve always loved the idea of doing party food. And why not here? Just don’t expect an invite! Mini Kievs, anyone?

Chicken Burgers, with bacon, barley and leeks and home-made breadcrumbs

  • Servings: 2 (for lunch) or should make about 8 small burgers (5.5 x 2.5 cm or 2 x 1 in)
  • Print


  • oil
  • 300g (10.58 oz) x leeks, white and pale green only, sliced crossways into discs and thoroughly rinsed
  • knob of butter, for the leeks
  • 200g (7.055 oz) x cooked chicken meat (poached chicken meat from leg quarters, that include drumsticks and thighs), chopped
  • 40g (1.411 oz) x cooked bacon bits/lardons/pancetta, chopped small
  • 40g (1.411 oz) x cooked pearl barley, cook about 80g (2.822 oz) dried weight to pack’s instructions (which will leave leftovers)
  • 1 x small pack cream cheese with garlic and herbs (about 100g (3.527 oz) used)
  • seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to personal taste
  • 1 x egg, separated (use the yolk within the chicken mixture and the white for dipping the burgers into before adding breadcrumbs)
  • 90g (3.175 oz) x home-made dried breadcrumbs (click for the recipe) + extra (it’s always best to have extra breadcrumbs to hand)

For the poached chicken:

  • 1 x organic carrot, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 140g (4.938 oz) x green part of leek, thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 x celery stalks/ribs, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 4 x organic garlic cloves, root end cut off and shelled
  • 2 x dried bay leaves, split
  • 20 x juniper berries
  • 500g (1.102 lb) x chicken leg quarters (drumstick and thighs)
  • 500ml (1.057 pint) x cold water

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • To poach the chicken (as I love to do as then I have great stock for soups, gravies/sauces and risottos!) then add all of those ingredients to a large saucepan with lid and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least an hour. The longer the more flavoursome both the chicken and stock will be. After simmering for an hour I simply turn off the heat and allow the contents to cool sufficiently before straining and/or storing overnight. To strain remove the chicken pieces and set aside, then pour the stock through a metal colander into a suitable bowl, mash the remaining vegetables with the back of a large metal serving spoon to extract as much of their juice, and nutrients, as possible. Before using strain again through a fine wire metal sieve.
  • In the meantime add the prepped leeks to a saucepan with a glug of oil. Put on heat No 3 with a lid and leave for about 10 minutes, stirring through occasionally if necessary. When nicely softened continue to cook on same heat, making sure there’s no sign of scorching. If that’s the case reduce the heat and stir more often. I prefer to cook mine for at least 30 minutes, allowing them to catch slightly on base of pan as that always brings out a sweeter flavour. When nicely sticky add a knob of butter, take off heat and set aside.
  • Remove all bones, sinews and ucky stuff from the chicken leg quarters, setting the meat aside and discarding the bones and stuff. Chop the meat quite finely, and set aside.
  • Cook the pearl barley to the pack’s instructions. To save time I do soak the barley overnight in plenty of cold water after rinsing the barley until the water runs clear. After rinsing the following day I add the barley to a saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover, put on heat No 4 and bring to a boil with a lid on pan. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked, about 20 plus minutes is usually long enough to get the barley nicely cooked. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again and set aside.
  • Cook the bacon until crisp, and when cool enough either chop or break into very small bits/pieces. Set aside.
  • Separate the egg and add the yolk to the mixture in the follow step below, add the white to a bowl and whisk lightly before using.
  • Add the chicken meat, leeks, barley, bacon, egg yolk and cream cheese to a large bowl and mix well. Chill for at least an hour! The mixture will be so much easier to shape if well chilled.
  • Prepare the breadcrumbs (click for the recipe) and set aside in a large bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C or 392°F.
  • Wet hands and grab about a heaped dessertspoonful of the chicken mixture and place in one hand. Squeeze quite firmly to extract any trapped air, then gently shape the burger into a patty of about 2 cm thick and 5 cm wide (1 x 2 in). Place on a plate until all are shaped. When ready to coat them gently lift each burger with a fork, place in the bowl with the egg white, lift and make sure each side is coated in egg white before adding to the breadcrumbs. Again using a fork do the same to make sure the burger is evenly coated. Lift and roll the burger lightly to coat the edges as well. When sufficiently coated set on a non stick baking tray (if using a baking tray that isn’t non stick then do grease the tray lightly with butter or oil). Just before placing them in the oven I prefer to lift each one and place in breadcrumbs again, this time shaping them by tapping gently with my fingertips to get them nicely round and flat on top. Then place them back on to the tray and place in the centre of the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until it’s possible to see the filling ooze slightly through the breadcrumb coating. Might sound a bit weird, but that’s the sign I’m looking for. As if they’re beginning to sweat! Then they’re baked for about 10 minutes more to ensure they’re piping hot in the inside and the breadcrumbs are nicely golden.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


  1. There you go with the juniper berries again! 🙂 Love making my own breadcrumbs – no way anyone should ever buy pre packed saw dust and coat their food in it. These, my dear, look and sound delish! I love the poached chicken although I have to admit when I make chicken burgers I use chicken mince – available everywhere here but I ask my beautiful butcher to freshly mince the chicken for me – too much fat running through the crap they sell in the supermarket and they charge a fortune for the lean stuff. I also don’t like buying meat that has been sitting in those containers wrapped in plastic…yuk! Very sad to hear that an invitation will not be forthcoming! 😦


  2. That golden crispy coating looks wonderful! and gosh, what could be better than a combination of chicken, leek and bacon! I’ll have to give these a go… love having home-made burgers ready to go in the freezer, for nights when you find yourself short of time.


    • And these should freeze well. Don’t know about the breadcrumbs, though. I’d be tempted to do those from scratch. Especially as chicken burgers would be better dethawed before cooking.

      The crispy coating is only working for me if I roast them. Last time I made risotto cakes, with the same type of breadcrumbs, the crumb coating wasn’t nearly as good. There’s something amazing about using egg whites, then roasting the burgers. That way the crumb really is nice and crunchy. And it’s healthier, too 🙂


  3. Yes to mini Kievs! 😀 And prawn cocktails.

    The chicken burger sounds just the thing for dinner now, except I’m improvising some Spanishy omelette. Oh well.


    • Oh yes, those classics never fail. Don’t care if they fall below the radar. I want them all the more 🙂

      Spanishy omelette. Still haven’t bought a pan suitable for making them. So would love to find a pan for making frittata.


      • I make frittatas in the frying pan, and finish them under the grill. Am also trying to learn to make a Persian omelette/frittata properly, but they take forever to cook and mine starts to get burnt, grr


        • I’ve yet to make a frittata proper as they need to be finished off in the oven. Which is why I do omelette or tortilla instead. Cast iron pans are really expensive over here. Okay, not as expensive as a pair of shoes – which I happen to prefer 🙂 The pan can wait!


  4. Nice burgers, love the crispy coating. The only store bought crumbs I will use is Panko, love that stuff but other than that I’m with you on the homemade bread crumbs. Can’t go wrong with chicken, leeks and bacon, Great combination.


    • The coating turned out really well. Far better than shallow or deep-frying them. So much crunchier. Have checked online and Panko are probably available here, at a price! Chances are they’re as expensive as my ground coffee – which ain’t cheap. I’m curious about them as breadcrumbs are now a new thing with me. Don’t think I’ll be buying them, even though I could probably find them tomorrow at the superstore. If I go there. Was supposed to go today as it was so beautiful outside. Any excuse not to go to that place!


  5. I love making homemade burgers but sometimes they are on the verge of crumbling. Do you think chilling the combination is the secret to it staying more compact? Or coating in breadcrumbs?


    • Well, chilling the burgers are much easier to shape. Especially as I’ve used cream cheese. That won’t necessarily help with holding them together. However, if you use the egg yolk (or yolks if making more than for two people) within the mixture that will help. With these, as I wanted to bake them, it’s the egg white which sets on their outside, not only holding the crumbs in place but keeping the burger from falling apart. Hmm, think I probably forgot to mention to turn the baking tray around halfway through, which helps to get them all nicely golden.


    • They were good. Well, I’ve never eaten a chicken burger made from mince before so I’ve no idea how they’re supposed to taste. These do need sage, for me anyway. If only I would get up to the superstore and buy in a sage plant! And yes, these need to be baked with the breadcrumbs I’m using as otherwise they would be far too greasy.


  6. What a pleasant time to visit you and find this chicken burger post! This so wonderful in that you used your walnut bread for breadcrumbs and minced the chicken yourself. I have only prepared homemade minced chicken once and it was so much better than buying it ground from the market. Over here it is so readily available and not too expensive, therefore for the sake of convenience and saving time I end up buying it. I think I’m going to try this, sounds so delicious. I’ll go ahead and add the sage just because of your insight. 🙂


    • Maybe I should point out that the chicken was poached, then chopped. To be honest I only ever bother to remove the bones from leg meat for a chicken curry I do – must buy in saffron! Here, I don’t even bother to remove the skin if I’m cooking the stock the night before. I just skim any fat off the next day. Talk about lazy!

      And talking of sage! A six mile trek to the superstore earlier this afternoon and they were out of fresh sage! This is a superstore I’m talking about. Darn! Anyway, the weather is so mild here I really wanted to make the most of it. Besides, I’ve bought in a huge bag of curly parsley. So, it’ll be parsley and Cheddar soup, and cheese & herb sausages instead. I’m really into finger food right now, and the sausages are perfect. Good timing with the onslaught of parties from now on, I suppose.

      Oh, as for the sage I was going to infuse some butter and add that to the mixture. And use the crumbled sage leaves within the breadcrumbs. Not sure how the leaves will do as I still don’t have a grinder. Worth trying, I think. I’m just worried that they might singe slightly when roasted. Besides, sage with walnuts?! Might have to sub hazelnuts. Ouch, apologies for the essay!


      • No apologies necessary! Great bit of info on your thought pattern. I did notice your chicken was poached first and found it brilliant to make a stock while at it! Parsley and cheddar soup sounds quite wonderful…


        • Funny, I’m not getting notified of your comments. Hmm…until I go into comments, that is.

          This time around the stock will be for another risotto. Leeks and mushrooms. Can’t get enough of them!


    • Doesn’t it just. Surprised me when I eventually made it to the superstore yesterday and they didn’t have fresh sage. Could’ve checked another near by. But one superstore per day is my max! Hmm, what is it with the locals? They’re cooking everything with sage?! And why don’t I know about it 🙂


Love your comments and feedback!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.