Colombian burger recipe

Double Cheese Burger with Pink Sauce, Pineapple Sauce, Garlic Sauce, Potato Chips and a bunch of other stuff
We are really globe trotting now!  From China to Colombia, a very different vibe and appropriately different flavors.  Colombia is located on the North Western coast of South America and borders Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Venezuela.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

My mental map of South America is terrible, I always pictured Colombia as being more inland, so now I have it placed pretty firmly in the correct location.  The Colombian government continues to struggle with violence from rebel groups (although apparently that’s getting better) and to combat the drug trafficking and the cultivation of illegal drugs.  The CIA World Factbook says that Colombia is the world’s leading cultivar of coca products, much of which is then sent into the US.  They also grow quite a bit of cannabis and opium poppy – nothing like diversification!  Fortunately the Colombians also have a richly diverse population and a love of food that will serve our purposes quite well.

This is one of those countries that has a strong burger tradition that we are going to explore.  Apparently it is not uncommon to go to a burger restaurant and have 30 or more topping choices.  Colombian’s like a messy burger with lots of sauces – thank goodness!  This is going to be fun, I promise!  There are also lots of burger and hotdog stands in the city and these messy wonders are popular street food – even most street vendors will have a dozen or more toppings to choose from.  By all accounts it’s important not to get picky on the toppings – just get everything on the burger and you’ll be happy (and very full).

The other interesting thing that they do with burgers is they have dipping sauces – these are the sauces that are just too liquid and would make your burger a soggy mess if you poured them right on.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find a lot of detail on what’s in the dipping sauces, so I made a classic garlic sauce that seemed to fit the tradition and it was perfect with the richness of the burger.  I can’t come close to describing how wonderful and messy this burger is – amazingly it transcends the ingredients.   The double patties are important to balance the burger and so that you can taste the meat at all – I still used only ¼ pound of meat for each burger because I wanted a really flat thin patty for these burgers.  I also highly recommend you use a leaner beef so that you don’t get a lot of shrinkage with cooking.

The sauces by themselves are pretty basic – pink sauce is essentially ketchup and mayonnaise with some additions to spice it up a bit – a couple of descriptions I found included brandy or some other booze in the pink sauce, so never one to miss a chance to use booze, I mixed in some Calvados.  Do I think it made a huge difference, no, but it did give a little tang that I liked.  The pineapple sauce gave me pause, after the extended pineapple debate we encountered with Australia, I wasn’t sure I was up for more pineapple.  Fortunately, most of the sources I found described a pineapple sauce rather than a big slice of pineapple – it added a really nice fruity undertone to the burger.  I used fresh pineapple because it’s in season and I was making carrot cake anyway, so I was able to use the whole thing and not waste anything.  I also made the sauce with canned pineapple chunks.  I expected a big difference in taste – the pineapple itself tastes quite a bit different, but, when you cook it down and add the sugar and lime there was almost no difference in the final flavor (although the fresh pineapple sauce was more yellow while the canned was paler).  So use whichever you prefer and it will be good either way.

The Aji sauce (I found this was spelled a number of ways, but this spelling seemed most common), is a classic condiment in Colombia with innumerable recipes.  Some include tomato, some are thick, some are watery – it’s the Colombian equivalent of piri piri or chimichurri – everyone uses it and every family has a secret recipe.  I made mine more paste-like for fear of drowning my poor burger.  It adds a nice herbaceous note that helps balance all the rich sauces.

I have a feeling some of you may comment on my cheese choice and to all of you I say, comment away!  I chose manchego cheese because, A) I like it, B) it’s got a nice tart flavor that I thought would hold up to all of the crazy flavors in this burger (I was right).  I know, it’s Mexican but I couldn’t find any Colombian cheeses or good descriptions of what Colombian cheeses taste like (I did find two references to American cheese being used, but I decided to ignore those because, well, yuck).

It is critical that you get a nice soft bun for this burger – the standard American hamburger bun that you get at the grocery store is perfect.  For those without access to American supermarkets, a brioche roll or other soft roll would work well.  I also chose to use a thicker wavy potato chip vs. the classic thin chip.  I wanted to make sure the chips stayed crispy and the thicker wavy chip worked well.  I was surprised how much crunch they added which kept the burger from feeling soggy and too wet.

This is a crave worthy burger, it’s messy, an amazingly tasty – it’s made me rethink my love for the Big Mac, this is a far more worthy burger, I hope you think so too.  Everyone in the family loved this – my father was relieved to have something a little less exotic for a change and my husband insisted on eating the photograph version of the burger the next day for lunch.  Bring lots of napkins and enjoy!

(by the way, you can make all of the sauces ahead of time and just cook the burgers last minute and assemble which makes this really easy to make for the family, the burgers cook fast too!)

Colombian Burger
1 pound ground beef (90% lean)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 ounces manchego cheese sliced
4 soft burger buns
salted butter
Aji Sauce (recipe below)
Pineapple Sauce (recipe below)
1 large tomato sliced thin
1 onion sliced thin
Pink Sauce (recipe below)
Wavy Lays or other thick potato chip (pounded into coarse crumbs)
Garlic Sauce for dipping (recipe below)

Mix ground beef with salt, pepper and onion powder.  Separate into 8 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a ball and flatten into as thin a patty as you can (max ¼ inch).  In a large non-stick pan, fry the first 4 patties until cooked through.  Put them on a platter and cover with foil.  Cook the other four patties adding the cheese after you turn them and cover to melt the cheese.  These patties cook really quickly so while your cooking them, if you have a helper, have them butter and grill the buns and get all of the other ingredients lined up.

To assemble the burgers, I’m not sure order is critical, but here’s how I did it…

Bottom bun
Aji Sauce
Cheese-less patty
Pineapple Sauce
Pink Sauce
Top bun

I also soaked the sliced onion in ice water for about ten minutes to take some of the sting out – this is up to you and your tastes.

Aji Sauce
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 jalapenos chopped
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
¼ cup Italian parsley chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until everything is uniformly chopped.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Pineapple Sauce
¾ cup pineapple juice (either from fresh pineapple or from canned)
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ Tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons cold water
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

in a small sauce pan, combine pineapple juice, lime juice and sugar, stir and heat through.  In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch and stir until there are no lumps.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the juice mixture slowly, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil and continue cooking until thick (2-3 minutes).  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.  Refrigerate until ready to use

Pink Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon Calvados
4 drops Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Garlic Dipping Sauce
Juice of 1 lemon (about ½ cup)
8-10 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup olive oil

Whisk first two ingredients then slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach

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19 Responses to Colombian burger recipe

  1. Carl H says:

    Mmm… this looks extremely yummy! A real kick-ass over the top treat. Getting hungry as I write.

    By the way. Manchego, as it’s known over here in Europe is something very different from the Mexican variety. Manchego as it is made in Spain, is a quite salty and dry ewe’s milk cheese. While Mexican Manchego originated in the La Mancha region of Spain it has almost nothing to do with the Spanish version as it is according to Wikipedia; a cow’s milk cheese that’s more similar to cheddar.

    Just to get that out of the way.

    • linda says:

      lol, I think my next project will be exploring the cheeses of the world – on second thought, it’s too confusing and would involve a ton of travel (especially since they don’t let us import non-pasturized cheese to the US). I would pick a relatively dry sharp cheese for this burger – now I’m getting hungry!

  2. Janet says:

    yes yes yes! This is a burger.

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  4. Shane says:

    you’re missing a slice of ham drooooooooooooooooooool

    • linda says:

      mmm, everything is better with pig! I’ll give it a try next time – just re-made these last month for a party – drool is right!

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  6. Carl says:

    Finally got around to make this burger. Had to make some alterations to the recipes. For example I added egg whites in the garlic sauce (and switched from olive oil to rapeseed).

    I also omitted the parsley for more cilantro in the Aji, and used whisky instead of calvados in the pink sauce. I can’t stand onion powder so that had to go. For the pineapple sauce I used quite bland canned diced pineapple which I then blended, adding some whole bits in the end for texture (it’s quite good to reduce the juice if it’s bland and then use less cornstarch than in your recipe as you’ll end up with less liquid). It’s nice to make it really thick so it’s sticks to the burger, like ketchup.

    But all in all it was one hell of a delicious burger. Perfect for an outdoor spring barbecue. Thanks!

    • Carl says:

      Also: here is a photo of how it turned out!

    • linda says:

      Sounds like you cook just like I do, adapt the recipe to what you like and don’t like 🙂 I’m glad you made this one, it is one of my favorites, messy but so good! It’s a good idea to reduce the pineapple sauce if you’re using canned, that would give it more flavor. I agree that it’s perfect for a spring BBQ, especially since you can make the sauces ahead of time and make your life simple.

      Enjoy the summer grilling!

  7. MARIBEL says:

    Oh my goodness my daughter and I eat a Colombian burger last night and it was so delicious, I had never tasted a hamburger so delicious in my life…. It was like all types of flavors bursting in my mouth……

    • linda says:

      Hi Maribel – so sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I’ve been taking a bit of a break this summer to spend more time with my girls. Glad you liked the Colombian burger, it is one of my favorites too – messy, but so yummy!

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  9. MICHI says:

    Yesssss I knew I wasn’t crazy I had found that mysterious Pink sauce, thank you for writing this.

  10. Marcia says:

    I went to Colombia about 13 years ago. We stayed in this beautiful hotel and I remember my father bringing us these burgers wrapped in foil that he bought from a street vendor. I remember thinking it was the best thing I had ever tasted at that time (I was 15). I´ve never forgotten that taste and had always wondered what that pink sauce was and if I would ever get to taste one again… until now. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I found this recipe! Than you so much!

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