Caribbean Spiced Chicken Burger on Dominican Bake (fried dough), with Stewed Spinach and Spicy Papaya Sauce
Ok folks, this is number 50! Hard to believe, but we’ve already made 50 burger recipes together! And it’s a doozy. We’ll keep the intro short so that we can get right to the food. The Commonwealth of Dominica is not to be confused with the Dominican Republic (although it’s another one of those that you have to be really careful researching that you are reading about the right place). Dominica is South and East of Dominican Republic. It’s a small island within the Lesser Antilles between Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Based on the pictures of the gorgeous beaches and amazing landscape, I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to travel here to really understand the cuisine, please make sure that you let the IRS know that this was super necessary 🙂 Dominica is volcanic and (according to Wikipedia) is the youngest island of the Lesser Antilles.
According to their own website, Dominica is “The Nature Island” and the Dominicans have worked to promote the island as a destination for eco-tourism. Blah, blah, blah, let’s get to the food. Dominicans like their food spicy, but not crazy hot. They eat a lot of fish and a lot of chicken. One of the local specialties is frog legs from the Giant Ditch Frog (called Mountain Chicken – cause frog legs do taste like chicken). Due to over hunting the Giant Ditch Frog has become critically endangered, so we’re going to stick to chicken and pretend we’re eating frog legs. (Btw, if you’re ever in Boston and get to eat at L’Espalier, if the chef is making frog legs, order them – I had them once there and it was one of the best dishes I have ever tasted).
Now, for those of you that follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have noticed that I was having refrigerator problems the last couple of weeks. Dominica was a victim of this chaos and I lost the ground chicken that I had purchased for the dish. I had to improvise and thawed out some chicken breast and ground it myself. This was serendipitous as the end result was so much yummier than I thought it would be. Grinding the meat allows bits of the marinade to stay infused in the meat, and the flavor was extraordinary. I’ve always loved lemon with chicken; this just brought it to a new level. The texture was also a lot different – lighter, less chewy and stiff than the store bought ground chicken. So please, spend the $40 and get the attachment to your mixer, you will thank me. Ok, I’ll move on.
The spicy papaya is a riff on various pastes and sauces that I found mentioned as part of Caribbean cooking. If papayas aren’t in season, you could substitute mango or fresh guava. The sweetness of the fruit really compliments the sweetness of the fruit and the rum. I didn’t love the color of the final sauce, but I couldn’t argue with the flavor.
Dominicans make a soup from the leaves of the dasheen plant, so I played off of that idea with the stewed spinach (dasheen is not available in this part of the world). The last element of the dish is the bread. Dominicans eat a fried dough that they call “bakes”. It’s a popular street food. As you may have noticed, I like fried stuff, so I had to try this out. It is so easy to make and so tasty, you’ve got to try it out.
The combination of all of these elements far exceeded my expectations – even my dad thought it was “not bad” (he really doesn’t like meats other than beef for a burger, so this is high praise indeed for a chicken burger). My mom and I cleaned our plates and wished we had more. Paul was out of town, so sadly he missed this treat. I will make it again so day for him, but right now it’s just fun to torture him with what he has missed 🙂 With this burger you’ll get a wonderful balance of sweet, spicy and tart – the lime juice permeates everything and gives a great continuity t the total dish. It’s definitely not very burger-like, but you’ll be coming back for more.
1½ limes juiced
2-3 cloves garlic minced
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ pounds boneless chicken breast cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 Bakes (recipe below)
Caribbean Sauce (recipe below)
Stewed Spinach (recipe below)
In a large bowl combine first five ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add the chicken and let rest in the refrigerator for one hour (at the most). Pull the chicken out and grind it on the fine setting. Form four patties. In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil and cook chicken until done. Place each cooked patty on top of the Bake rounds, top with Caribbean Sauce and Stewed Spinach. Serve while the chicken is hot.
1½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons butter
¾ cup coconut milk
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and mix until you get a somewhat dry dough ball.
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into four rounds about ¼ inch thick. Heat ¼ inch of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet until just shy of smoking. Place rounds in oil and fry until lightly browned and golden. Flip and cook the other side until the rounds are heated through. Serve hot or room temperature.
1 cup dark rum (don’t use spiced rum, just dark rum)
1 habenero pepper seeded and quartered
3 ounces guava paste
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dry ground ginger
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of ground cloves
Juice of ½ lime
1 cup chopped papaya
In a small saucepan, combine rum, habenero and guava paste and cook over medium heat stirring regularly until the paste is dissolved (about 10 minutes). Remove the habenero (you can leave it in longer if you like things really hot). Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for another 10 minutes. Let sauce cool a bit, then pour into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
1 small onion diced
7 scallions – white and light green parts sliced
1 large clove of garlic diced
3 cups baby spinach
½ cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
In a medium skillet, heat oil and brown onion over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic and turn heat down to medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly until beginning to soften. Add spinach, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until spinach wilts. Add coconut milk, cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.
©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach