Haitian burger recipe

Citrus Marinated Pork Burgers with Spicy Cabbage and Coconut Rice and Beans
The H’s are really interesting because we are moving quickly around the globe – next stop is Haiti.  Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean (the Dominican Republic occupies the other two thirds).

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

It was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and the Spanish settlers who came after spent the next 25 years killing off the Taino Amerindians who were living there (combination of actual killing/enslaving and disease).  Then the French arrived in the early 17th century and were eventually given the western third of the island by the Spanish near the end of the century.  The French brought in an enormous number of African slaves to work in “forestry and sugar related industries” (that’s a quote from CIA World Factbook).  I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time, but by the end of the 18th century there were half a million slaves in Haiti and they got tired of being slaves and staged a revolt.  The revolution lasted nearly a decade, but in 1804 Haiti was recognized as an independent republic and as such became the first black led republic in the world!

I think that’s a really cool story.  Sure, there’s lots of bad stuff, especially the killing of most of the Amerindians; but I like the idea of people not putting up with repression.  I like it when the underdog realizes that maybe he’s not such an underdog and stands up for himself – it probably why I like the movie Bug’s Life – lots of parallels.  But I digress.

Alasandro via Wikimedia Commons

By Michelle Walz Eriksson, via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately from here, things don’t go so well from there.  Today, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas.  It was already the poorest in the Americas in 2010 when it was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused $7.8 billion in damages including destroying much of Port-au-Prince (the capital city).  Now 80% of the population lives in poverty and over half of the countries annual budget is funded from outside of Haiti (in other words loans and foreign aid).  Most Haitians don’t get enough to eat and the average caloric intake is 1,730 calories per day.

By Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock, USAF, via Wikimedia Commons

Many Haitians eat a vegetarian diet due to poverty and everyone eats rice.  Coconuts, avocados, oranges, limes and mangos grow wild so they are staples of the Haitian diet.  Haitian food is influenced by French traditions, but with more of a Creole flair – and Haitians like their food spicy.  Pork and goat are the most common meats (mainly because those animals will eat anything, so they are cheap to raise), and riz et pois (rice and beans) is the national dish.  Pretty much everyone eats rice and beans at least once every day.  Haitians also make something called pikliz which is spicy pickled cabbage – pikliz is cheap to make and very flavorful and is served with fried meat (usually pork).

So, to create our Haitian burger, I took the ingredients that are readily available and put them together.  I marinated my pork in citrus and jalapenos and let it sit all day to really absorb the flavors.  I pickled my cabbage with habeneros and let it sit overnight so that it would pack a punch.  And lastly, I cooked my rice (just like we did last week with Guyana) with coconut milk, beans and the ubiquitous Maggi cube.  Top the whole thing off with some nice ripe avocado and I am a happy gal!  This is one of the most flavorful meat treatments, similar to the depth of flavor achieved in the Dominica burger, marinating the meat in citrus and peppers really brought out the pork flavor and added complexity to a meat that can sometimes be bland.  The rice was fantastic – I love cooking rice in coconut milk – and the Maggi cube added even more to the flavor, gave it that salty seasoned flavor that is why so many people around the world cook with Maggi.  The cabbage was too sharp to eat on its own, but when you combined it with the creaminess of the rice and the fatty rich avocado, it was perfect.  The dish overall wasn’t as spicy as I think it should have been to hit the authentic mark, but it was the perfect spice level for our taste – spicy enough to notice, but not so spicy Paul ends up sweating – as he says “food shouldn’t be painful”.

I think this burger would go best with a nice cold amber ale, but since I can’t drink beer I settled for a light-ish red blend that wouldn’t fight too much with the spice.

Buy some Haitian coffee or some clothes made in Haiti, help support the struggling Haitian economy and have a beer and a burger and enjoy.

Last note – this is one of the coolest looking burgers to date – that purple cabbage and green avocado are really striking together – so make this burger and wow your friends!

Haiti Burger
1 pound pork cubed (I used boneless pork chops)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Juice of 3 oranges – about ¾ cup
Juice of 7 limes – about ½ cup
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
1 shallot chopped
1 jalapeno chopped
Coconut Rice and Beans (recipe below)
1 avocado sliced
Pikliz (recipe below)

In a large glass bowl combine pork and next 8 ingredients (salt through jalapeno).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours (this isn’t an exact science but you want enough time for the flavors to get into the meat but not so much time that the citrus makes the pork tough – you can try less time, but I wouldn’t do more).

Grind the pork and form into four patties.  Cook the patties until they reach an internal temperature of 155˚F, let them rest for about 5 minutes before serving if you want to get a more well done patty.

To serve put a generous scoop of Coconut Rice and Beans on each plate, then add the cooked patties, a couple of slices of avocado then a scoop of the Pikliz.

1 small head of purple cabbage sliced thin then chopped (you can use any cabbage, but the purple looks cool)
1 large carrot shredded
2 habanero peppers seeded and quartered
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar

Put all ingredients in a large zippered plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.  When you’re ready to serve, drain the excess liquid and remove the habaneros.

it really does look that bright!

Coconut Rice and Beans
1 cup long grain white rice
1 can small red beans (15.5 ounces) rinsed and drained
1 chicken flavored Maggi cube
1 can coconut milk (16 ounces)

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan (break up the Maggi cube as you put it in the pot).  Bring to a boil then reduce to low and cook covered 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through.



©Copyright 2012 Linda Monach

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2 Responses to Haitian burger recipe

  1. Janet says:

    “It’s just like A Bug’s Life”?

    That’s mighty white of you.

    • linda says:

      I’m really sorry if my comment offended you, but A Bug’s Life is the story of an oppressed majority rising up against the evil oppressors and realizing their power and building a beautiful new life for themselves – doesn’t seem like this is a stretch as an analogy. And, when you have two small children in your house, you find that all of your entertainment seems to be centered around animated movies, so please don’t take it personally. It certainly wasn’t meant as a negative comparison, I think we’re all on the ants’ side when we watch this movie.

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