Pork Lover’s Burger with Riesling Onions and Applesauce on Potato Pancake
It’s been too long, literally. I originally worked on the Luxembourg burger in spring of 2015, then life got busy and I took a break from writing. Fast forward to January 2017 and I decide, “time to get back to work”. Great! Let’s go! Oh, wait, where in the hell is my recipe? I have a picture, pretty, but the recipe has vanished. I may have recorded the recipe (I tried speaking instead of writing as I was cooking, but didn’t like messing with technology during cooking process), but I have a new phone and I deleted all the apps that I don’t use, including the recording ones.
Here’s the burger I made two years ago.
I’m pretty sure it’s a beef burger with grilled plums and some fresh greens (tarragon and something else). I have no idea what that sauce is, but lord knows I like a yummy sauce. But that’s really not enough to write a recipe for you, so clearly it was time to start over. We’ll consider this one lost forever and we move on.
Our journey now takes us to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a tiny little country wedged between Germany, France and Belgium. And I mean TINY! It’s 2,586 sq km, that’s smaller than Rhode Island. About half a million people live there and many more people commute in from neighboring countries to work in Luxembourg every day. (Just like I used to commute from Massachusetts to Rhode Island each day).
You may be asking what the heck a Grand Duchy is, I know I wondered. It turns out a Grand Duchy is a state ruled by a Grand Duke or Duchess – seems a little like using the word itself in the definition, but, whatevs.
Due to robust bank secrecy laws, Luxembourg has become a banking center – great place to stash cash you’re trying to hide from your own government, spouse or law enforcement. Not that I’m advocating any such thing, just passing on facts folks. Banking is a big part of why this little country is the second most wealthy country in the world (in terms of GDP per capita). This could also be why it has the 3rd highest net migration. Doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful, a founding country of the EU and one of the safest places to live in the world.
Now that we’ve all started picking out homes, let’s talk about the food. Pretty much ever source you look to will tell you that Luxembourg cuisine is highly influenced by German and French cuisines – gee, how insightful. Shocking that a country smaller than Rhode Island would have many cultural similarities to the largest countries that surround and have periodically engulfed it. (Please read with sarcasm dripping from each word – that’s generally a good rule of thumb when I’m making side comments).
The “national dish” of Luxembourg is widely touted as judd mat gaardebounen (which gives you a sense for Luxembourgish as a language). It’s smoked pork collar with broad beans. Pork seems to be quite popular across multiple recipes, which is fine with me, let’s go with pork. I considered bacon, but decided we’ve done too much bacon, let’s try ham. Fry up a little ham and throw it on the burger – yum!
Another key piece to this burger is the gromperekichelcher (love Luxembourgish) or potato pancake. This is a really popular street food in Luxembourg. I won’t lie, I really didn’t want to make a potato pancake. It’s not that it’s that difficult, it’s just work and more steps and a bunch of you saying “Linda, why do you make these recipes so complicated?”. So if you want to just put this burger on a bun I support you wholeheartedly, but I’m not allowed to do things the easy way. So potato pancake it is. Miraculously these potato pancakes came together better than any previous versions – each was pretty picture perfect.
Now Luxembourgers like to munch their potato pancakes dipped in either ketchup or applesauce. Here’s where you can all roll your eyes (my husband did)- I decided this was a great opportunity to try making homemade applesauce. I looked it up online and it’s actually pretty easy – peel and core some apples, slice them into chunks and cook in a pot with some water and lemon juice. I made some super yummy applesauce that tasted exactly like the applesauce you buy in stores. Exactly like that. So feel free to do this if you are curious, but don’t bother otherwise. Just use a natural applesauce with no sugar added and for the love of God, no cinnamon or other crap flavoring it.
Since Luxembourg is known for its Riesling (slightly sweet white wine), that gave me the opportunity to drink, I mean cook with wine. I love me some drunken onions, so another flavor done. Add a little cheese and some mustard and we’re in good shape.
The final combination was delicious – I’m pretty sure it was even better than the original “lost” burger. Such hearty flavors, but somehow lighter overall than I expected. The resiling onions elevated the whole dish and added a tanginess that cut through the heavier flavors. It would be easy to overpower with too much cheese or ham, so stick to the recipe. Somehow this came together with more subtlety than I imagined and really nice balance of smokey, tangy, sweet and meaty.
And one last note – my husband has already made the Luxembourger/Luxemburger joke…thanks honey.
Luxembourg Burger (click for printable version)
2 ounces good deli ham (I used Boar’s Head Black Forest), sliced very thin
1 pound ground pork
Kosher salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons camembert cheese
4 potato pancakes (recipe below)
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
Riesling onions (recipe below)
Chop up the sliced ham into ½ inch pieces. Pour a scant amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the ham and cook stirring regularly until lightly browned. Set aside. Form four patties from the ground pork (pork is easier to cook if you keep the patties relatively flat, so try to flatten them out as much as possible – but as always, don’t over handle the meat). Generously salt and pepper both sides of each patty. Add some more olive oil to the pan – enough to just coat the bottom and fry the burgers over medium high heat until cooked through. In the last 2 minutes, add a Tablespoon of camembert to each burger. Cover and cook until cheese is melted.
To plate – start with the potato pancakes then spread ½ teaspoon of mustard on each. Portion the ham evenly on each pancake then add 2 Tablespoons of applesauce to each then the cooked patties. Add some onions to each burger then sprinkle some chopped parsley (if you want a little color).
3 cups of peeled and grated Yukon gold potatoes
¼ cup parsley chopped
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons flour
Combine first 5 ingredients and let sit for a couple of minutes. Pour ¼ inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Heat the oil until shimmering. Squeeze the excess liquid from the potatoes (this is important, don’t forget this step). Form the potatoes into four patties/pancakes. Cook in the hot oil until lightly browned on each side. It helps to turn them over a couple times to ensure that they don’t burn and to get them evenly cooked. Place the cooked pancakes on paper towels to drain the excess oil.
Riesling Onions (can be done up to a day ahead of time)
2 large onions sliced (3 cups)
2 Tablespoons butter
½ cup Riesling
Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the onions and cook over medium low heat until the onions are beginning to soften (about 10 minutes). Add the Riesling and simmer until the liquid has mostly evaporated (about 20 minutes). Turn heat to low and cover, cook for another 30 minutes. If you make this ahead of time, just heat the onions in the microwave before using.
©Copyright 2017 Linda Monach