Cape Verdean burger recipe

Pork burger with Cachupa (stewed hominy) and Sweet Corn Bread

As I promised, we are getting to explore a lot of Africa in the “C’s”.  Our next adventure is in Cape Verde.  Cape Verde is a group of islands off the coast of Western Africa.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Total land mass is about the size of Rhode Island!  Speaking of Rhode Island, I’m lucky enough to know several Cape Verdeans, as Massachusetts and Rhode Island are popular places for expatriated Cape Verdeans.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Which brings me to another interesting factoid (these are compiled from a number of sources but all verified by CIA World Factbook – if the CIA says it’s true, it must be, right?) – there are more Cape Verdeans living abroad than currently live in Cape Verde!  True story.  Current population in the islands is around 500,000.  The Cape Verde islands were original uninhabited until the Portuguese came across them and decided to settle in.  Because most of the Portuguese didn’t bring their wives, but did bring their female slaves, the population of Cape Verde is primarily mixed race about half African and half European.

Cape Verde has suffered from many severe droughts, and with land that is limited and not suited to growing much, this drove a lot of the locals to leave.  Currently the biggest industry is tourism, from the pictures it looks like a lovely place to vacation.  Although the droughts made life difficult in Cape Verde, they do have a relatively stable government and have managed to avoid the violence and deep poverty that many of the other countries we’ll be talking about soon have endured.

Tiny country, small population, do they really have a cuisine that is distinctive?  Fortunately for me (and for you), they have Cachupa, the unofficial national dish.  Like so many national dishes, there are as many recipes for Cachupa as there are Cape Verdeans.  The basics are hominy, beans and meat.  I deconstructed a bit and added my own touches and made a burger topping that has the sweetness of corn balanced with beautiful ripe tomatoes and smoky bacon.  I used pork for the meat because pigs are great animals to raise on small amounts of land, then I added in a little Portuguese sausage to spice up the dish and add even more smokiness.  I couldn’t decide what to do for the starch so I whipped up a polenta and grilled it, I bought some Portuguese dinner rolls and I purchased a store made corn bread – we tried all three and, believe it or not, the corn bread won over the fancier options.  It was a slightly sweet cornbread and it really brought out the sweetness in the hominy and balanced the smokiness of the meat.  It was also easy to make (open container and slice to burger bun size) 🙂

The dish was slightly spicy because of the sausage, so if you want to avoid spice, just cut down on the sausage or leave it out entirely.  We tried a Portuguese wine with this burger, but I really can’t recommend it – I think a Pinot Noir or a light Chianti would be best, although beer would also work well.

Cape Verdean Burger
¼ pound linguica sausage
¾ pound ground pork
2 teaspoons peanut oil

Remove the casing from the sausage and pulse in a food processor just until sausage is texture of ground meat.  Combine the sausage and the pork and form into 4 patties.  In a non-stick skillet, heat peanut oil and cook patties until just done.  Remove burgers from pan.  Slice corn bread into 4 squares about ½ inch thick.  Grill lightly in pan until just warmed.  Serve the corn bread with burger patties and a generous helping of Cachupa.

3 slices of bacon chopped
1 medium onion diced (about ½ cup)
1 clove garlic thinly sliced
1 15 oz can of yellow hominy drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tomatoes chopped

In a medium sauté pan, brown bacon over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy.  Add onion and garlic, sauté until onion is translucent.  Add hominy and salt, cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly.  Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.


©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach


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5 Responses to Cape Verdean burger recipe

  1. Carl H says:

    Gosh, it must be quite hard to make up recipes for all these countries with obscure or uknonwn cuisines. The only thing I know about Capeverdian cuisine is that they make a good home-distilled (illegal) rum, but that’s all and I’m quite educated in different national cuisines. Anyway: kudos to you for trying hard. I think this looks nice. Pork mince with pork sausage seems really good.

    As for cornbread, it’s quite popular in Portugal were they have their special variety: Paõ de Milho. Check it out. Anyway; Do you know a good recipe for American cornbread? In my country it’s hard to find shop bought.

    • linda says:

      Thank Carl, it does get pretty difficult when the countries are so small and/or the regional cuisine is so dominant, but so far I found something to inspire me everywhere I’ve been. Apparently several African countries make various home brewed spirits – perhaps that should be my next blog! I don’t have a family recipe for cornbread, but there are a lot out there so I recommend you do a Google search. seems to have a ton of options and most are pretty simple. I would just avoid the really sweet versions – you want a touch of sugar, but not a ton. This recipe looked about right to me…. but I haven’t tried it. I’ll ask around and see if anyone has a favorite and let you know. Good luck!

  2. Carl H says:

    Thanks! Hmm… Quite a cool idea to sit around blog about sampling strange African moonshines. Maybe not that healthy though, hehe.

    Btw, your next country is the Central African Republic. Good luck with that (I didn’t even knew they had food there!).

    • linda says:

      As I’m finishing my post on Central African Republic I am again amazed that everywhere I look there is something to say about the food – and most of it is good! Now I’m on to Chad, wish me luck 🙂

  3. desiree isenberg says:

    i love my cape verde recipes
    and i am cape verdean

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