Maple Bourbon Porcupine Burgers

The first time I gave porcupine a try, I was less than pleased. Porcupines are herbivores which means that they feed on plants and trees. During the winter, they feed off the bark and needles of conifer trees which can leave the meat with a “piney” taste. My first attempt at cooking porcupine looked a lot like thawing the meat and throwing it in a crock pot with seasonings and broth. Once cooked, I strained the meat and added BBQ sauce in the crock pot with the intention of making pulled porcupine sandwiches. I wasn’t a fan.

This time around, I decided to first brine the meat in a maple bourbon brown sugar brine. Figuring that porcupine was a fatty meat, I thought it would make a spectacular burger, so through the grinder it went. I added seasonings, formed the patties, cooked them up, and served them on a toasted bun with ketchup, sweet garlic dijon, pickled shallots, pepper jack cheese, and lettuce to finish it off. This recipe was amazing! Yes, a little involved, but a great way to use up any porcupine you may have laying around the house (or maybe an excuse to go looking for one!)

Serves:  2 Burgers –  Prepare Time: 12 hours (Brine) & 1 hour Cook & Assembly +/-



  • 2-3 Porcupine Front/Rear-quarters (10-12 ounces bone-in)
  • 1 Quart Hot Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Bourbon


  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 2 Cloves Roasted Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 6 Basil Leaves, Cut into Chiffonade
  • 1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Avocado Oil, For Cooking
  • Butter
  • 2 Hamburger Buns
  • Sliced Pepper Jack Cheese, For Topping
  • Lettuce, For Topping
  • Ketchup, For Topping
  • Sweet Garlic Dijon Mustard, For Topping
  • Quick Pickled Shallots, For Topping


  • 3 Cloves Roasted Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • Pinch Salt


  • 1 Shallot, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Fresno Chili Pepper, Seeded & Sliced Thin
  • 1/2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Smashed


1.) Prepare porcupine by scanning for any stray shot. A handheld metal detector would work great in this situation. To a shallow baking dish, combine hot water, salt, bourbon, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Whisk well to dissolve. Place porcupine meat in dish. Meat should be completely submerged. Brine the meat for a minimum of 6 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

2.) Once meat has finished brining, cut meat off the bone. Tip: to maximize the amount of meat, try to cut along the bone and stick to main muscle groups when butchering the porcupine.

3.) To grind the meat, any food grinder works. I have an attachment for the Kitchen-Aid that works great for small cuts of meat, like goose, duck, & porcupine. Send the meat through the grinder.

4.) Add garlic powder, minced roasted garlic cloves, onion powder, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to the meat. Mix well to fully integrate the seasonings into the meat. Form into 2-equal sized patties. Add a thumbprint in the top of each patty to catch juices and to prevent burgers from swelling up while cooking.

5.) Place a frypan on medium heat and butter both sides of buns. Place cut-side down on the frypan and let cook until bun is lightly browned and toasted.

6.) Place a cast-iron frypan on medium-high heat and spray a high-smoking point cooking oil on the pan. I prefer avocado oil. Once oil is just smoking, add patties to pan. Cook each side for 2 to 3 minutes. Porcupine can be cooked medium rare, as they don’t consume meat. I cooked our burgers to 130°F. With one minute remaining, add pepper jack to patties and cover to allow cheese to melt.

7.) Remove bun from pan and dress the burger with ketchup, light mustard, pickled shallots, and lettuce. Serve and enjoy!


1.) Preheat oven to 400°F and cut 1/4″-1/2″ off the top of a head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.


1.) To a Cuisinart, add roasted garlic, maple syrup, dijon mustard, and salt. Pulse on high until combined.


1.) To a saucepan on medium heat, add vinegar, sugar, salt, and sliced chili peppers. Bring to a boil. Once sugar and salt has dissolved, remove from heat.

2.) Meanwhile, pack a small glass jar (with a lid) with shallots and garlic clove. Pour brine over shallots, cover, and place in fridge. The shallots will be ready to use in 1 hour.

2 thoughts on “Maple Bourbon Porcupine Burgers

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: