Cheeseburger with avocado and Pebre sauce
I have to admit, I was excited to change it up and head to Chile for our next recipe. Africa is difficult – the stories of the people are sad and the food is either very plain or quite exotic (sometimes both). South America is more familiar territory and the flavors are some of my favorites. Chile is a long thin country on the western coast of the continent. It is bordered by Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. Because of the long coastline, Chile has abundant seafood (Chilean sea bass is my personal favorite although we once had giant squid that had been caught off the coast of Chile and it was amazing). Despite that, since beef is also widely eaten in Chile, and beef is my favorite protein for burgers, I decided to stick with beef (my father was so relieved).
Chilean food isn’t super spicy, rather it focuses on the readily available fresh produce and core spices like cumin and oregano. Like Bolivians and Argentineans, Chileans have a condiment that they use on everything; it’s called pebre sauce. And, like the other condiments we’ve tried, there are a million different recipes for pebre. Some include tomatoes and basically end up being like salsa. Almost all of the recipes I found include the core ingredients of cilantro, onions, garlic, peppers, oil, parsley and either lemon juice or vinegar. So I stuck with the basics – you can add oregano, chives, hot pepper sauce, tomatoes…you get the idea.
I also have to admit that I was really excited to read that Chileans love bread, all kinds of bread – I was beginning to miss a nice traditional bun, so this was a good break. We are also back to the land of cheese, oh glorious cheese! Unfortunately Chilean cheese isn’t available in my neighborhood, so I had to find a substitute. I read in a couple places that muenster is pretty close to Chilean gauda (one of the most common cheeses in Chile – not to be confused with gouda), so that seemed like a good stand in – it also melts really well which is great for burger making.
To top the whole thing off we, of course, enjoyed a nice Chilean wine. I found a Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carménère. This varietal is not really produced much anywhere else in the world, certainly not in the quantity produced by Chile, and it is delicious – a full bodied but very drinkable wine with a lot of complexity in the fruit flavors.
This burger will be pretty satisfying for those of you who enjoy Latin flavors – it has the taste of cumin and oregano balanced with the creamy cheese, fresh tomato and avocado and then topped with the slightly spicy pebre sauce – very satisfying. I did add pepitas to the top, but consider those optional – my research indicated that pumpkin is very popular in Chile and this is my hat tip to that tradition. I also tried roasted corn on the burger, and it was good, but not strictly necessary, so you can put that as optional too – it also makes the burger really messy, so I passed on using it in the photo. One final note, I found a couple of references to the Chilean Hamburguesa as the burger that is eaten in Chile – but I couldn’t find any details on what Chileans eat on their hamburguesa. As far as I can tell, it’s just Spanish for hamburger and Chileans eat the same thing so many people eat on their burgers – lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions. If any of you have any greater insight, please let me know.
1 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
4 slices of Muenster cheese
4 burger buns (or French bread rolls if you want to get fancy)
1 ripe avocado mashed
1 tomato sliced
Pebre sauce (recipe below)
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
In a large bowl, combine beef, cumin, salt, oregano and paprika. Form four patties and grill to desired temperature, top with cheese about 2 minutes before burgers are done. Spread ¼ of the mashed avocado on each of the four buns, place cooked patties on top of the avocado. Top with sliced tomato, pebre and pepitas.
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it forms a well blended chunky paste. Refrigerate for a few hours before using so that the flavors will meld.
©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach