Cote d’Ivoire burger recipe

Chicken Burger with Pili Pili Mayonnaise, Tomato and Okra Stew and Fried Plantain
This is our last African stop within the “Cs” and it’s amazing.  First things first Cote d’Ivoire is located on the Western coast of Africa.  It’s surrounded by Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

The Europeans were attracted to the country and it’s ivory and gold.  The French took control of Cote d’Ivoire in the 1800’s.  French is still the official language of Ivoirians.  Cote d’Ivoire became independent in 1960 and enjoyed relative prosperity and stability within the region.

Unfortunately, that kind of fell apart with a coup in 1999, popular uprisings, north vs. south conflict, etc…  This one even made the international news recently with many fearing the country would be torn apart.  As recently as April of 2011, the UN and France had to intervene to help remove President Gbagbo, who lost the election last November but refused to step down.  With one government now in place, let’s hope that Cote d’Ivoire can get back to peace and prosperity.

The food of Ivoirians is similar to what we’ve seen throughout Africa; the biggest difference is that they seem to enjoy a larger variety of foods and flavors than some of their less (at least historically) prosperous neighbors.  I was especially intrigued by kedjenou, which is a favorite local chicken dish – kind of a stew, but with very little liquid so that the vegetables get cooked down and concentrated in flavor.  I thought it would make an interesting relish-like topping for a burger, and it does!  Great concentrated flavor of tomato, onion, chicken and chili peppers, all it takes is time, the prep is easy.  If you really don’t like okra, you can substitute eggplant, but really, okra is yummy, don’t be afraid of it.

What really makes this burger though is the Pili Pili Mayonnaise.  I am now in love with this sauce.  You may have noticed that I’m a fan of mayonnaise generally, well, even if you aren’t you’ve got to give this a try.  I ended up eating potato chips dipped in the leftover sauce after everyone else went to bed.  Don’t judge, it really is an irresistible sauce.  You can dial up or down the heat with the pepper choice – most recipes call for habenero, but I used jalapeno to get something a little less challenging.  There are innumerable recipes for pili pili sauce (although narrowing down to Cote d’Ivoire as an origin for the recipe limited my options).  I could only find two though that trace back to Cote d’Ivoire.  It was from The African Cookbook by Jessica B. Harris that I got the idea to add horseradish.  I love horseradish and thought it would add a new kind of a kick that would be a little different than some of the other recipes I’ve created for this part of the world.  It was a great addition and gave a zing that was perfectly balanced by the creamy avocado and sweet plantains – combined with the savory chicken and the rich stew flavors and I was shocked at how good this burger was – I hope you will be too!

Cote d’Ivoire burger
1 pound ground chicken
1 clove of garlic minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons peanut oil
4 Plantain Cakes (recipe below)
1 Avocado
Kedjenou Sauce (recipe below)
Pili Pili Mayonnaise

Combine chicken, garlic, salt and pepper and mix until combined.  Form four patties.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat peanut oil until shimmering.  Add the patties to the oil and cook over medium heat until cooked through (I use a digital thermometer just to be sure I don’t end up serving raw chicken).  Mash the avocado then place ¼ of the avocado on each of the Plantain Cakes.  Place the cooked chicken patties on the avocado then top with Kedjenou Sauce and a generous helping of the Pili Pili Mayonnaise.

Plantain Cakes
2-3 yellow plantains
peanut oil
kosher salt

Chop plantains roughly and pulse quickly in a food processor.  You want a chunky mixture, don’t over process or you’ll end up with a porridge like consistency and the cakes will be a sticky mess.  Heat enough peanut oil to cover the bottom of a large non-stick skillet until shimmering.  Form 4 patties from the mixture and place them on four pieces of wax paper.  Invert the wax paper and peel the patties down into the hot oil (it sounds harder than it is – you can also just take a scoop of plantain and plop in the oil then flatten it out – whichever you prefer).  Cook until lightly browned then flip.  Lightly salt the cooked sides.  Place on paper towel to drain a little of the oil left until you are ready to plate – these can be served hot or room temperature.

Kedjenou Sauce
½ pound chicken wings (about 8 wings)
1 medium onion chopped
2 tomatoes seeded and coarsely chopped
2 slices of habenero pepper diced (use the whole pepper if you’re brave!)
1 garlic clove minced
½ inch fresh ginger peeled and grated
5 okra sliced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black papper

Place all ingredients in a large sauce pan and cover tightly (I wrapped my pot in aluminum foil to try to get it more air tight).  The idea is to cook the dish in it’s own juices and not let any of the steam escape.

Bring the pot to a simmer over medium high heat (go by the sound, don’t lift up the lid, when you hear it bubbling, trust yourself that it’s simmering).  Reduce heat to med/low and cook for an hour.  Most of the traditional recipes say to shake the pot periodically to keep ingredients from sticking – I didn’t find this necessary and it tended to let steam escape, so I say skip it.

After one hour, remove the chicken and the bay leaf and discard.  Use the sauce hot while it’s warm.

Pili Pili Sauce
1 tomato coarsely chopped
3 jalapenos seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
juice of 1 lemon
½ cup Italian parsley chopped
¼ cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and thoroughly mixed.  This makes way too much sauce, but you can use the extra as a salsa, it’s delicious.

Pili Pili Mayonnaise
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Pili Pili Sauce
½ teaspoon horseradish

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and adjust to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to use (at least an hour).

©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach

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