Malaysian burger

BH&T Malaysian burgerSambal Belacan Flavored Chicken Burger with Bean Sprouts and Roti Jala
Now we continue our journey with a stop in Malaysia. Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia. It borders Thailand and Singapore on the pennisula, and makes up about a third of the island of Borneo bordering Indonesia and Brunei. It’s also just across the South China Sea from the Philippines and Vietnam.

courtesy of CIA Worldfactbook

courtesy of CIA Worldfactbook

courtesy of CIA World Facebook

courtesy of CIA World Facebook

With a locale like this (not to mention British colonization and Japanese occupation at various points in its history), the cuisine is bound to be interesting and delicious. So let’s skip all the upfront and jump to the food.

Malaysians typically eat 6 times a day, they’re like Hobbits in their love of food! With most of these meals you’ll find a unifying flavor and that is spice. Spice in the form of chili peppers makes the foundation of Malaysian cuisine. Dried or fresh, ground into a paste or diced in a sauce, peppers are pretty much always on the table.

My first attempt at making this burger overdid the peppers and had us guzzling milk to recover. Lesson learned, be thoughtful about the number and kind of peppers you use. I started with 15 Thai Bird Chilis, and ended with 5 Thai Peppers for a spice level that you notice but doesn’t cause pain.

The beautiful think about Malaysian cuisine is that it doesn’t stop at hot chilis, the heat is always balanced with a touch of sweetness. Like we saw in Indonesia, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) is used to temper the heat and adds a lovely and distinctive salty sweetness that, for me, really exemplifies the cuisine of this region. If you haven’t tried kecap manis, I strongly recommend that you do, it has a distinctive flavor for which I’m sure you will find lots of uses.

Malaysian also like their flatbreads or “roti.” Here I encountered Roti Jala, a turmeric seasoned lacy crepe-like dish. The first time I made this burger, I incorporated the lacy pattern, but I totally forgot to do so the second time, since it doesn’t change the flavor, I’d just go with a basic crepe. Then you can pick it up and kind of wrap the burger in the crepe – this keeps the sauces in and makes the whole thing less messy. Here’s a look at what the classic roti jala looks like.

Even with the crepe structure, this is probably best eaten as a fork and knife dish.  The trick of making authentic Malaysian food is balance. This burger gets umami from the bean sprouts and chicken, eggy custardy flavor from the roti jala, sweetness and saltiness from the glaze and spiciness to tie it all together from the sambal belacan. Serve the extra sambal belacan on the side so folks can dip and spice it all up to their own taste.

If you like this burger, you should definitely try the Indonesian burger and the Brunei burger – this will give you a broad taste of the region and leave you wanting to experiment more.

Malaysian Burger
1 pound chicken breast cut into 1-2 inch chunks
1 Tablespoon Sambal Belacan (recipe below)
Salt
Kepac Manis glaze (recipe below)
Ghee
Roti Jala (recipe below)
Sambal Bean Sprouts (recipe below)

Coat the chicken with the Sambal Belacan and salt. Grind chicken and form into four patties. Brush glaze over the patties. Heat ghee in a non-stick pan and fry patties until completely cooked through. Just before the burgers are done, drizzle a little extra glaze on the patties.

To serve, place 1-2 Roti Jala on each plate then put the cooked patties on top and top with a scoop of Sambal Bean Sprouts on each burger. Serve the Sambal Belacan on the side so your diners can add extra spice to their own tastes.

Sambal Belacan (can be made ahead 1-2 days)
2 ounces dried chile japonés
5 dried Thai chilis
hot water
3 shallots peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic peeled
1 Tablespoon tamarind paste
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 Tablespoon palm sugar
4 Tablespoons coconut milk

Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain the chili peppers. Place chili peppers, shallots, garlic, tamarind paste and lime juice in a food processor and pulse until it forms a paste. In a small pan, heat the peanut oil over medium high heat. Add the chili paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add the palm sugar and the coconut milk (use the solids rather than the liquid if the coconut milk has separated), and cook for another 2 minutes.

If making ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve at room temperature with the burgers.

BH&T Malaysia sambal belacan

Kecap Manis Glaze (can be made ahead 1-2 days)
½ cup kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lime

Heat all ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium low for 10 minutes. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate then heat to room temperature when you’re ready to use.

Roti Jala (can be made ahead same day)
1 cup coconut milk
1 large egg
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ cup water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sifted flour
½ Tablespoon ghee

Combine all ingredients except flour and ghee. Add the mixture to the flour and stir until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine strainer to remove and residual lumps.

BH&T Malaysia Roti Jala Batter

Heat ghee in a nonstick pan over medium heat until melted. Pour enough batter to create thin crepe (or drizzle for traditional lacy effect). Cook until firmed up then gently flip to cook other side. These only take a few minutes to cook, so watch them carefully. This is enough batter to make 8 crepes.

Make these ahead and just keep them warm in the oven until ready to use.

BH&T Malaysia Roti Jala

Sambal Bean Sprouts
2 bunches of scallions chopped (or 2 spring onions), about 1 cup
1 ½ teaspoons ghee
1 ½ Tablespoon sambal belacan
1 cup bean sprouts
2 teaspoons kecap manis glaze
Kosher salt to taste

Heat ghee in medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and saute for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

BH&T Malaysia Sambal Bean Sprouts

©Copyright 2017 Linda Monach

 

Posted in asian recipes, burger recipes, chicken burgers, south asian recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Malawian burger

BH&T Malawian BurgerSalmon Burger with Nsima and Sautéed Greens
Now we take a quick hop over to Continental Africa to the Republic of Malawi. Malawi is a landlocked country in southern Africa bordered by Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.  It is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania and home to approximately 50% more people (18 million vs. PA’s 12 million).  Oh, and, Lake Malawi takes up about 25% of the land – so that leaves very few wide open spaces in the country.

courtesy of CIA World Facebook

courtesy of CIA World Facebook

Malawi has had a difficult history since its independence in 1964. Underdevelopment and corruption have left the country poor and largely dependent on agriculture.  Adding to the difficulties of life in Malawi is HIV Aids.  Malawi has a HIV Aids adult prevalence rate of 9.1% (9th in the world) and it’s estimated that in 2015 26,700 people died from HIV Aids putting Malawi 11th in the world for HIV Aids related deaths (CIA World Factbook).  I read one article from the UK that put the number of HIV Aids orphans at over 1 million children.

hub and spokes II malawi

 

Because 80% of the population works in agriculture, the food that they eat is primarily fresh produce and grains.  Grains and starches are an important part of the Malawian diet as they give energy for the difficult labor of tending fields.  Corn is central to the life of Malawians – there is a saying in Chichewa “chimanga ndi moyo”  or “maize is life”.  Most corn is ground into flour and then made into a paste called nsima.  Nsima is a staple of the Malawian diet and is usually formed into patties and served with a “relish” of veggies, meat or quite often fish.  Sounds like a good basis to start the Malawian burger, no?

I tried making Nsima with medium grind corn meal and with masa – it was better with masa (this is a fine grind corn meal that can be found in the latin section of the grocery store).  I kept the nsima pretty simple with just a little salt and a hint of red pepper.  You could spice it up more if you want but the simplicity of the total dish is kind of refreshing, so I wouldn’t go crazy adding flavors.

lake-malawi-4

 

Lake Malawi contains more fish species than any other lake in the world (if you can believe the internet – could be “fake news”).  So we are definitely going with a fish burger.  While tilapia is one of the most plentiful, I’ve already done tilapia so I wanted something new.  Mpasa is a native fish similar to salmon, I thought the stronger flavor of salmon would compliment the nsima, so I went with salmon.  Add in some sautéed greens and you have a simple and delicious Malawian burger.

If you are a “ingredients forward” type of person, you will love this burger. It is fresh and light with nothing to obscure the buttery salmon.  The greens give just a little tang to relieve the oiliness of the fish and the nsima is a nice neutral starch that keeps you from being starving when you finish the meal.  It definitely feels like a warm weather dish, so wait for a nice spring day and treat yourself to a taste of Malawi.

If you like this burger but want a little more kick, you should try the Guinea Bissau burger – similar ingredients, just a lot more spicy.  And, totally different flavors, but one of my favorite fish burgers is the Fijian burger – check it out!.

Malawian Burger (click for printable version)
1½ pounds salmon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Zest of ½ lemon
1 shallot minced
1 egg lightly beaten
⅓ cup masa
Sautéed Greens (recipe below)
Nsima (recipe below)

Make the Nsima first and cover to keep warm.

Salt the fish.  Melt butter and olive oil over medium high heat.  Once the butter foam has subsided, place the fish skin side down in the pan.  Cook until you can see the fish has cooked about ¼ inch up from bottom (it turns light pink).  Flip the salmon and remove the skin with a metal spatula.  Continue cooking the salmon flipping as necessary until medium rare.  Remove the fish from the pan and chop.  Add lemon zest, shallot, egg and masa.  Combine and form into patties.  Return to pan and fry until just lightly browned and cooked through.

In the meantime prepare the Sautéed Greens.

To serve, scoop Nsima on each plate, add the cooked salmon burgers and top with sautéed greens.

Sautéed Greens
2 cups mustard greens
1 cup kale
1½ Tablespoon butter
1 small onion chopped

Roughly chop the mustard greens and kale removing any large stems.  In medium sauteé pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent.  Add chopped greens and cover until wilted (about 2 minutes).  Sauteé for another minute or two until greens are soft but haven’t lost their color.  Remove from heat and serve warm.

Nsima
4 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup masa

Place first three ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add masa and reduce to high simmer – cook stirring constantly until thick.  Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

©Copyright 2017 Linda Monach

Posted in african recipes, burger recipes, fish burgers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Malagasy burger

BH&T Malagasy burgerBurger with Coconut Rice and Unripe Mangos
The Republic of Madagascar, despite what you’ve seen in the movies, is not run by lemurs and/or fossa.  It is home to over 24million people.  The animals are important, but let’s start with the people.  After achieving independence from the French in 1960, the Malagasy people have struggled with political instability.  It is a poor country with agriculture being the primary industry.  GDP per capita is 217th in the world.

ma_large_locator

Complicating matters is the youth of the country.  More than 60% of Malagasy people are under the age of 25.  Young women are often encouraged to marry even before age 18.  Very young women are getting married and having children themselves.  The average age for having a first child is just over 19.  Women average 4 children in their lifetime, the population continues to grow.  Poor access to healthcare and education along with food insecurity make this a challenging place in which to live.

At the same time, it is a beautiful place with an unimaginable diversity of flora and fauna.  I could geek out for hours on the super cool animals that are unique to Madagascar.  Between 1999 and 2010, 615 new species have been discovered in Madagascar.  The lemurs, OMG, lots of lemurs, so cute!

By Yves Picq - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15225934

By Yves Picq – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15225934

And there’s this cute little creature called a tenrec – there are around 30 species of tenrec in Madagascar.

http://www.wildmadagascar.org/wildlife/animals.html

http://www.wildmadagascar.org/wildlife/animals.html

And baobabs, the coolest tree ever!

http://www.wildmadagascar.org

http://www.wildmadagascar.org

So, if you have some extra vacation dollars and you’re looking for a place that welcome’s tourists and has stuff that can’t be seen anywhere in the world, try Madagascar.

Malagasy food is simple, mangos, rice, coconuts and greens are all staples of the Malagasy diet.  Meat is available, but typically eaten in small amounts with large helpings of rice and stewed vegetables as common accompaniments.  Like so many countries in this region, spicy peppers are used liberally to add flavor to otherwise simple foods.

I haven’t worked with unripe mangos before, so I really wanted to try them out.   I also took this as an opportunity to make my coconut rice.  By substituting coconut milk for most of the water, you get a creamy, sticky and slightly sweet rice that is a perfect accompaniment to spicy foods.  Some kale gives a little bitter bite to balance the sweet and spicy.  I used beef for the patty mainly because I was in the mood for beef.  It is eaten in Madagascar, so it’s fair game.  I probably should have used fish or chicken, but sometimes you’ve got to go with what you’re craving.

The result was a tropical treat.  The mangos and kale are a little sour, the rice lightly sweet.  Add those to the meaty beef and some spicy sauce and you have a you have a burger that feels light.  I wish it were warmer here, because this is really perfect for a warm weather day, but just bookmark it for summer and try it out when mangos become plentiful.

If you like some spicy, tropical burgers, I’ve got a bunch.  Try the Liberian burger, Burundian burger and Haitian burger.

Madagascar burger (click for printable version)
1 cup long grain rice
1 can coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
½ cup water
1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
Kosher salt
Olive oil
Chopped fresh kale
Unripe Mangos (recipe below – make ahead)
Chili Mayo (recipe below – make ahead)

Make the Unripe Mangos and the Chili Mayo first then let the mangos cool to room temperature  and refrigerate the mayo.

In a medium pot, combine rice, coconut milk and water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cover.  Cook for 15 minutes or until liquids have been absorbed (this will make a sticky rice, not a light fluffy rice).  In the meantime, form four patties from the beef.  Salt them liberally.  Cook the patties in enough oil just to coat the pan.

To assemble, place a scoop of rice on each plate then layer on some chopped kale.  Placed the cooked patty on the kale (this will wilt the kale a little bit, but that makes it yummier and easier to eat).  Now a dollop of Chili Mayo and a scoop of Unripe Mango – I know, dollop and scoop aren’t measurements, but taste each of the components and put more or less depending on your personal preferences.

Unripe Mangos
1 unripe mango peeled, pitted and cut horizontally into thin slices1 small onion sliced thin
4 cloves garlic peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup white wine vinegar

Put all ingredients into a medium pot.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Cover and cool to room temperature.  Remove the garlic pieces before using.

Note: pick a hard green mango – if you get a soft yellow or red one, the whole flavor will be too sweet.

BH&T Madagascar Unripe Mangos

Chili Mayo
1 red fresno chili chopped
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon dried ground ginger

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

©Copyright 2017 Linda Monach

Posted in african recipes, beef burgers, burger recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Luxembourg burger

BH&T Luxembourg burger

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.

BH&T Luxembourg lost recipe

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).

Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

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.

Grand Duke Henri

Grand Duke Henri

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.

Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

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.

If you enjoy this burger, you should try the German burger and the Cypriot burger. they have some similar tastes and nice complexity of flavor.

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
Olive oil
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)
Parsley (optional)

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).

Potato Pancakes
3 cups of peeled and grated Yukon gold potatoes
¼ cup parsley chopped
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons flour
Vegetable oil

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.

BH&T Luxembourg potato pancakes

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

 

Posted in burger recipes, european recipes, pork burgers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lithuanian burger recipe

BH&T Lithuania Burger

Burger with Bacon Jam and Borscht Sauce

After a lengthy break, we are back and on our way to Lithuania.  Lithuania is an Eastern European country bordering Belarus, Latvia, Russia and Poland.

Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Once upon a time Lithuania was the largest state in Europe, encompassing most of modern day Belarus and Ukraine.  Of course, that was in the 14th century, things kind of went downhill after that.  At one point Lithuania was completely swallowed up by the surrounding countries and ceased to exist as an independent state.  Then there was the Soviet problem.  Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 1940.

During all this, Lithuanians managed to maintain a strong national identity.  United by Catholicism and the Lithuanian language (a Baltic language closely related to Latvian), the people of Lithuania were the first Soviet state to declare independence on March 11, 1990.  Moscow agreed by September of the following year and was even nice enough to remove troops by 1993.

Modern day Lithuania is part of the EU and the Eurozone.  It continues to be largely Roman Catholic, and the Lithuanian language is alive and well.  Like several of its neighbors, Lithuania is becoming more and more of a draw for tourists.  Between gorgeous coastlines and a lively capital city, Lonely Planet describes Lithuania as “one of Europe’s gems.”

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Neringa-Dunes-SPL_741-Main

Since I’m a bit of a data geek, I always like to look at the country stats and see if anything jumps out.  In this case, not much does.  The only number, in fact, that jumps out as being unusual is the death rate.  Oddly, Lithuania has the 3rd highest death rate in the world (according to CIA World Factbook).  WTF?  So, I, of course, had to know more.  Luckily, the internet is designed to help those of us who are terminally curious.  According to the World Health Organization Lithuania is 4th in the world in suicide deaths and 2nd in the world for death from alcohol.  This, despite being over 75% Roman Catholic.  Poisoning and suicide rates in Lithuania are twice as high as the regional average (which is higher than EU average).  Alcohol deaths are almost 5 times that in the region.  I couldn’t figure out if these were all independent numbers – for instance, does suicide by poisoning show up in both the suicide numbers and the poisoning numbers?  Any way you slice it, these numbers are sad and perhaps an indication that life in Lithuania is not always so easy as the travel blogs would like us to believe.

I hear you saying, “enough Linda, what about the food?”.  Lithuanians love food.  Their cuisine is typical to the region with lots of dark bread, mushrooms, potatoes, pork, beef, borscht and pickles.  Perfect food for a cold January in Boston – so let’s get started.

I personally don’t care for bacon on burger – this has as much to do with the texture as anything.  Strips of meat on a patty are just annoying to eat and the flavor can overpower the burger.  My mother recently introduced me to bacon jam.  Bacon jam is an amazing invention, it gives you bacon flavors without the annoying strips of meat.  And when you mix bacon with onions and mushrooms and a little sweetness of reduced vinegar, you have a little bit of perfection.

So I started there and added a sauce based on borscht – I love roasted beets, so this sauce was a big hit for me.  The tanginess of the sour cream and dill compliment the earthiness of the beets and balance out the complex flavors of the bacon jam.  Add some hard boiled eggs and a few dill pickles and put the whole thing on dark rye.  The result is a super messy burger that is rich and dark and meaty.  This is a heavy dish, so keep your sides light, a nice salad with roasted beets and goat cheese would be perfect.

If you like this recipe you should try some of the other recipes from he is region.  The Estonian burger is one of our favorites.  Belarus and Latvia also inspired terrific burgers.

Lithuanian Burger (click for printable version)
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt
8 slices dark rye or pumpernickel bread
Mushroom-Bacon Jam (recipe below)
Dill pickle slices
2 hard boiled eggs
Borscht Sauce (recipe below)

You’ll want to make the Bacon Jam and the Borscht Sauce first, then come back and make the burger.

Start by trimming 2 large beets, wrap them in foil and roast in a 350℉ oven for 1 hour or until they are easily pierced with a knife.  While the beets are cooking soak 1 ounce of dried chanterelle mushrooms (covered) in boiling water.  Set beets aside to cool.  Leave the mushrooms soaking until you’re ready to use them

Form four patties from the ground beef and generously salt both sides.  Using the pan that you used to make your Bacon Jam and the reserved grease, cook the patties over medium high heat until they reach desired temperature.  Now grill your bread.

Depending on the size of your bread, you may want to cut each slice in half to fit the burger.  Trim your bread and necessary so that you have 8 burger sized pieces.  Grill them (on one side only) in the same pan until lightly browned.

Place grilled side of bread up and portion bacon jam on four pieces of bread.  Add dill pickle slices (I slice my own from whole dill pickles because I like very thin slices on my burger), enough to make one layer across jam.  Now add your patties and two slices of hard boiled egg.  Top with a generous scoop of Borscht Sauce and the last 4 pieces of grilled bread.  Keep the grilled side facing the burger – it will help keep the bread from disintegrating.

Mushroom-Bacon Jam
8 ounces bacon chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 onion sliced
½ ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
     
Brown the bacon pieces over medium high heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy.  Remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain excess fat.  Cook the onions in the bacon grease over low heat for about 5 minutes.  Drain the mushrooms from the hot water and chop.  Add the mushrooms to the onions.  Continue to cook until the onions are very soft.  Drain and reserve bacon grease.  Add bacon back into pan then add the vinegar.  Turn the heat up and cook until vinegar reduces into syrup (this happens quickly, so stay close and stir constantly).  This can be made ahead and just heated up before serving.

Borscht Sauce
2 roasted beets
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup spring onions chopped (green parts only)
1¾ Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

Pulse the beets in a food processor then combine with all other ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

©2017 Copyright Linda Monach

Posted in beef burgers, burger recipes, eastern european recipes, european recipes | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Liechtenstein burger

BH&T Liechtenstein burgerSpaetzle Burger with Mushrooms and Fried Onions
I’ve got to admit that I had little faith that there would be anything interesting to talk write about a country that is only 62 square miles. If you wanted to, you could walk across the country in less than a day. So, other than being small, what else is there to say about Liechtenstein? As a matter of fact, there’s quite a bit of interesting trivia – just search “fun facts Liechtenstein” and see for yourself.

My favorite story about Liechtenstein is the “Great Swiss Invasion of 2007” – ok, I totally made up that name for it, but the invasion was real. Apparently 107 Swiss soldiers got turn around and accidentally wandered about a mile into Liechtenstein. The 37.6k citizens of Liechtenstein didn’t even notice they had been invaded. The Swiss apologized, but I can’t confirm that a couple of cases of wine were exchanged to smooth things over. 🙂

"Schlossvaduz" by Michael Gredenberg - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schlossvaduz.jpg#/media/File:Schlossvaduz.jpg

“Schlossvaduz” by Michael Gredenberg – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schlossvaduz.jpg#/media/File:Schlossvaduz.jpg

Theres’s also the story about how Snoop Dogg tried to rent the entire country to film a video. The request was denied, but only because he didn’t give enough notice. About a year later, the principality offered up the opportunity for anyone to rent the country. From $70,000 per night, the package would include street signs and customized currency.  No reports of anyone actually doing this, but if I ever win the lotto, I might just throw a party there – how cool would that be?

Ok, enough silliness. The Principality of Liechtenstein is a small country surrounded by Switzerland and Austria. It has the 3rd highest GDP per capita in the world (after Qatar and Luxembourg). It is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. The land was first purchased in 1719, and the family continues to rule today (although it took them about 100 years before any family members actually lived in Liechtenstein). The economy is fueled by the production of false teeth – it seems that if you want really excellent false teeth, you want them made in Liechtenstein.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

As you can imagine, a country this small does not have a cuisine that is substantially different from that of its neighbors. Although not unique to Liechtenstein, spaetzle is commonly enjoyed and sometimes made into Käsknöfle (basically spaetzle baked with cheese and onions). Since I’ve always wanted to make spaetzle, this seemed a wonderful opportunity. I’ve tried making pasta many times with varying success, the joy of spaetzle is that it’s mostly foolproof. Just make the batter and push it through anything you have that has holes in it – bigger holes=fatter spaetzle. It isn’t pretty, but it’s yummy and makes a great noodle cake for the base of a burger.

Add some beef, cheese, onions and mushrooms and you’ve got a classic burger with meaty yumminess. Oddly the combination didn’t seem heavy, but it certainly is perfect for a cold winter’s day.

This has classic flavors of the region, if you enjoy this burger, you’ll also like the German burger.

Liechtenstein Burger
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyere cheese sliced thinly or grated
4 Spaetzle Cakes (recipe below)
Sautéed Mushrooms (recipe below)
Fried Onions (recipe below)

Combine beef, salt and pepper and form into 4 patties.  Fry burgers over medium high heat (preferably in a cast iron skillet) until desired doneness.  Add cheese about 2 minutes before burgers are done, reduce heat and cover to melt cheese.

To plate, place Spaetzle Cake on each plate, add a scoop of Sautéed Mushrooms, cooked burger patty and top with Fried Onions

Spaetzle Cakes
2 cups flour
3 eggs (beaten)
¾ cup water
pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Lightly whisk together all ingredients (don’t over beat) until combined.

BH&T liechtenstein spaetzle cook1

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Using a slotted spoon or colander, drip the batter into the water in small batches.

BH&T Liechtenstein spaetzle cook2

BH&T liechtenstein spaetzle cook3

Cook for 2-3 minutes, then strain.

BH&T liechtenstein spaetzle cook4

Form 4 discs from the cooked spaetzle.  Coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with a thin layer of olive oil over medium heat.  Fry the spaetzle discs for a 2-3 minutes per side until just lightly browned.  Place in a warm oven until ready to use.

Sautéed Mushrooms
18 crimini mushrooms (aka baby bella)
3 Tablespoons butter

Slice mushrooms ¼ inch thick. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat until foam starts to subside. Add the mushrooms and cook until brown – don’t mess with the mushrooms too much, shake the pan a couple times to turn them over, but don’t stir or use any tools – the more they sit on the pan, the more you’ll get nice browning.

Fried Onions
1 large onion
Flour
Salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Slice the onions into rounds and separate the layers.  Place some flour in a bowl and generously salt it.  Dredge the onion rounds in the flour.  Heat the oil to 350°F.  Fry the onion in batches until onions are lightly browned.  Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

©Copyright 2016 Linda Monach

Posted in beef burgers, burger recipes, european recipes | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Libyan burger recipe

BH&T Libyan burgerLamb Mb’atten Sliders with Bzaar Seasoned Ketchup
Our next stop on this culinary journey is Libya.  Libya is a country in North Africa bordering Tunisia, Algeria, Chad, Niger, Sudan and Egypt.  Originally settled by the Berbers, the area was later ruled by Egyptians then became part of the Roman Empire.  After the Roman Empire fell, various groups ruled the area until the Ottoman Empire took over in 1551.  Then in the 20th century the Italy began an occupation that lasted until the end of WWII.  Libya became independent in 1951.  Muammar al-Qadhafi assumed leadership in 1969.  Qadhafi espoused a mix of socialism and Islam.  But he wasn’t happy spreading his ideology in just his home country.  Because Libya has large oil stores, he was able to use the money from oil to support other like minded people and he became the face of terrorism in the 1970s.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Facebook

In 2003 Libya admitted responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland.  The government turned over two suspects and paid reparations to the families of the victims.  Qadhafi also agreed to stop trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.  After 7 years of normalizing relations between Western nations and Libya, the unrest that began late in 2010 and later became known as Arab Spring, spread to Libya in early 2011.  Qadhafi was overthrown by mid-2011 (and killed in the process) and a transitional government took over until elections in 2014.  Since then, Libya has continued to struggle with instability and violence.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

So that’s the short version of a very long and complicated history.  Which brings us to the more uplifting part of the tale – the story of food.  Food is central to Libyan life and culture.  Libyans have a popular saying “One must eat well.”  Central to Libyan cooking is olive oil, dates, grains and milk products (like ghee and yogurt).  My favorite fun food fact is that the sand in Libya gets so hot in the summer that you can (and many do) bake bread, potatoes or eggs by burying them in the sand.  Unfortunately, the sand in Boston is not quite up to the task, so I didn’t get to try it out.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

As I was researching the various flavors of Libya, and this is a country that loves complex flavors and myriad spices so there was lots to build on, I came across Mb’atten.  There are some who claim that this is a dish unique to Libya, but I have friends who are from the Middle East and they assure me that this dish can be found outside of Libya.  They also assured me that it is delicious.  So, what is Mb’atten you ask?  It is herb, onion and lamb stuffed inside a thinly sliced potato pocket then fried!  That’s right folks, it’s like potato skins that you didn’t cut all the way, so they’re connected and then you stuff with the most deliciously seasoned meat you can conjure up and some zesty fresh herbs and it’s heavenly.

I’m sure you can tell from the picture that I totally overstuffed the potato; I found that a generous meat to potato ratio tasted the best, but this also makes it more difficult to eat.  My choice is always going to be for yummy vs. easy to eat, a little mess and lamb juice running down your chin is good for the soul.  I added the seasoned ketchup because I always like a little sauce and I think the juxtaposition of tart ketchup and sweet lamb is nice – you could also make a seasoned or herbed yogurt if you prefer (insert joke about American love of ketchup here…).  If you do make the ketchup, just go light with it.  Tomato is a strong flavor and it can easily overwhelm the lamb.  I found serving it on the side worked better so each diner could decide how much was perfect themselves.

Cutting the potatoes just right is not easy, be prepared to scrap a few as you learn the feel.  I went through three versions before I came up with one pretty enough for the blog.  The good news is that the ugly ones were just as tasty.  Even if they fall apart completely you end up with a thick potato chip – hard to be sad about that.  Try to find fat potatoes so that you get decent sized “buns”.  Once you mastered the potato “bun” or “pocket”, this technique could be used with any number of different flavor profiles and meats – I’m thinking carnitas might be a good match.  Let me know if you try any crazy combos…sweet potato pockets with pulled pork anyone?

But I digress, if you fried food and/or Middle Eastern spices, you will enjoy this burger.  It’s meat and potatoes with flair and zing.  If you enjoy this burger you should also consider my Bahrainian burger, it’s another take on lamb and fresh herbs, perfect for summer dining.

Libyan Burger
1 pound ground lamb
2 Tablespoons Bzaar Seasoning (recipe below)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cloves garlic minced
8 scallions chopped (white and light green parts)
½ cup fresh dill chopped
4 Tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped
4 teaspoons minced Serrano chilies
1 egg beaten
3-4 large Yukon gold potatoes
Flour
Vegetable oil
Bzaar Ketchup (recipe below)

Combine the lamb, Bzaar Seasoning and salt.  Cook the meat mixture in a medium skillet over medium heat until just browned.  While meat is cooking combine the garlic, scallions, dill, cilantro and chilies.  When meat is just browned (don’t overcook), turn off the heat and add the herb mixture.  Stir until herbs are wilted the transfer mixture to a glass bowl.  Let it cool a bit then add the beaten egg.

In the meantime peel the potatoes.  It helps at this point to take one side of the potato and slice a little bit off so that you have a flat side to keep the potato steady, if you feel ok with your knife skills, then you can skip this.  Now comes the tricky part.  Slice the potatoes into 8 rounds that are less than ½ inch thick.  Now comes the even trickier part, slice each round ¾ of the way through (or more if you can do it without the seem breaking).  Try to keep your knife centered so that each side of the “bun” is the same thickness.

Stuff each “bun” with a generous helping of the meat and herb mixture.

BH&T Libya burger pre-fry

Dip the open end into flour.  In a large skillet, heat ¼” of vegetable oil until shimmering.  Fry each of the stuffed potatoes until golden then gently flip them and fry the other side until golden.  This takes about 4 minutes per side and it helps if you baste (especially at the seam of the potato).  The challenge is moving these gently so you don’t lose your filling and making sure the potato is cooked through.  The seam will take longer to cook than the ends, so basting it with oil as it cooks help cook both sides of the seam at the same time.

When the potatoes are cooked through and golden, serve the sliders hot with a side of Bzaar Ketchup.

Bzaar Seasoning
1½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all the spices and store any extra in an airtight container in the freezer.

Bzaar Ketchup
½ cup ketchup
1½ teaspoon Bzaar seasoning
1½ teaspoon olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and store covered until ready to use.

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©Copyright 2015 Linda Monach

Posted in african recipes, burger recipes, lamb burgers, middle eastern recipes | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Liberian burger recipe

BH&T Liberian BurgerBurger with Spicy Greens on a Sweet Potato Pancakes
The snow is finally (almost) gone, and we have dug out of the winter craziness.  It must be time to get back to burgers.  Luckily we get to start things off with both an interesting country and a scrumptious meal.  We’ve finally (only two years behind schedule) reached the mid point, number 96 of 192 countries.  Liberia here we come!  Liberia is a country on the coast of Western Africa bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte D’Ivoire.  The history of this country is unique.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Rather than being colonized as so much of Africa, Liberia was founded a little differently.  The journey began in 1815.  After the American Revolution, free African Americans struggled to find work and community in the US.  Some free blacks and whites began to work together to “solve this problem.”  At this time, the idea of whites and blacks mingling and living together seemed impossible to most.  From this tension came the idea to return free blacks to Africa.

In 1815, Paul Cuffee, an African American entrepreneur, financed a voyage to Sierra Leone.  He helped settle a small group of immigrants with the dream that they would be able to set up a trade network, educate local black with the skill that the immigrants brought from the west, and live a life free of the restraints of the US limits on black freedom.

In 1820, the American Colonization Society (ACS), a white dominated organization sent another group of immigrants to Africa.  They started on an island in Sierra Leone, but it was swampy and disease ended up being a huge problem.  So, with the help of the British, the group convinced the locals to sell some coastal land and so began the settlement that would eventually become Liberia.  The early history of Liberia is fraught with conflict.  Conflict between the immigrants and the native populations and conflict between the immigrants and the ruling government (originally governed by representatives chosen by ACS).

from www.virtualtourist.com

from www.virtualtourist.com

Fast forward to 1847 and Liberia declares independence.  This independence was not recognized by the US until 1862.  I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there, but it wasn’t.  Liberia has continued to struggle with conflict between decedents of American immigrants and native people.  There has been corruption and civil war (which lasted 14 years).  Relative peace was established in 2011, and Liberia has been slowly working to rebuild and strengthen its infrastructure.  The recent Ebola outbreak has been a set back to the progress that has been made over the last few years.  New cases have slowed dramatically and there is hope that the spread will be contained some time this year.

With such an interesting history, there was no doubt that the food would be equally interesting.  While only about 5% of the population is decedents of American immigrants, they have been extremely influential.  This group has been over represented in government and community leadership.  These immigrants brought skills learned in the US, but they also brought food traditions and flavors.  So, while the original slaves brought food traditions from Africa to the US (especially the South), their decedents reversed the process and brought southern cooking to Africa.  The result is a fabulous blend of fatty sweetness and exotic spiciness.  We have spicy greens that you expect from this part of the world, with that warm red palm oil flavor and habeneros to spice it up.  Then I brought the south to our burger by making sweet potato pancakes with the homey flavors of cinnamon and molasses.  The result is amazing.  I don’t even like sweet potatoes, but I loved the balance of the sweet with the spicy greens and the meaty burger.  I liked the combination so much I made the sweet potato pancakes a week later with spicy pork chops – yum!

If this sounds good to you, I recommend you try the Cote D’Ivoire burger; it’s got classic flavors from the region and is a personal favorite of mine.

Liberian Burger
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1½ ground pepper
Sweet Potato Pancakes (recipe below)
Spicy Greens (recipe below)

Form four patties out of the ground beef.  Generously salt and pepper each side of the patties.  Cook to desired temperature.  To serve place cooked patties on top of the Sweet Potato Pancakes and top with the Spicy Greens

Sweet Potato Pancakes
4 cups grated sweet potatoes (use large holes on a box cheese grater, or food processor)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3-6 shakes Tabasco sauce
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 eggs
Peanut oil

Combine first six ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs.  Add the eggs to the sweet potato mixture.  Form the mixture into four disks (about ½ inch thick).  Heat ¼ inch of peanut oil until shimmering.  Cook the cakes in the oil until warm through and brown on each side (because of the molasses, this will brown more than you might expect, don’t worry, it will taste delicious).  Set on paper towel until ready to serve.

BH&T Liberia Sweet Potato Pancake

Spicy Greens
1 Tablespoon red palm oil
1 onion halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 habenero pepper sliced
4 cups collard greens chopped (remove big stems)

In a large sauté pan, heat palm oil over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic and peppers and cook until soft and translucent.

In the meantime, put greens into boiling water for 2-3 minutes then shock them in an ice bath.  Once they are completely cool, drain the excess water.

Remove the peppers from the sauté pan and add the greens.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes just until greens are heated through and coated in the onion mixture.

Serve warm.

BH&T Liberia Spicy Greens

 

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©Copyright 2015 Linda Monach

 

 

 

 

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The North Pole Burger!

BH&T North Pole Burger

Ok, so the North Pole isn’t a country, but a good friend requested that I create something to celebrate the Christmas season so consider this my holiday gift for you.  There isn’t really a recipe, you can do the whole burger with simple store bought ingredients, and, on the insistence of my friend Cheryl, it is not made of venison (although I really wanted it to be, but I have a twisted sense of humor and she often has to rein me in – (yes, that was on purpose)).

This is a simple beef burger – salt the patty generously and cook it, melt fresh mozzarella on top.  That green stuff under the burger is mayonnaise mixed with pesto (you can use store bought pesto or make your own).  The optional green dots are just pesto.  On top is a sun-dried tomato tampenade – I made mine with sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, capers and garlic – but there are good store bought options too.  The “snowballs” are just enoki mushrooms dry pan roasted with a little lemon juice to give them more sharpness. I added a shaved radish and some clover sprouts just for aesthetics.  We ate this with a top bun, I just didn’t photograph it that way, because this one is all about the presentation.

This is a fun holiday burger – easy to make and really pretty.  It also tastes delicious – pesto and sundered tomatoes are a winning combination.  Just make sure to generously salt your beef as the meat can get drowned by the other flavors if you don’t.

Life has been crazy and there haven’t been nearly enough burgers this year, but thank you all for continuing to visit, read and comment.  Here’s hoping the 2015 brings tons more burgers, and lots of good food for everyone.  Merry, happy, joyous everything to all!

©Copyright 2014 Linda Monach

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Basotho burger recipe (country name Lesotho)

BH&T Lesotho Burger Recipe

Curry Spiced Chicken Burger with Pap Pap and Spicy Kale and Peas
Perhaps it’s my lousy attention span rather than the poor state of education in the US, but I’ve never heard of Lesotho.  It’s not even vaguely familiar.  Yes, it was formerly known as Basutoland, but that’s not familiar either.  (BTW, that’s why the name of this burger is Basotho, that’s the adjective form of Lesotho)  So, assuming I’m not the only poorly educated person around, let’s find out a little about Lesotho together.  First of all, it’s pronounced li-soo-too.  And, oddly, it’s not only completely landlocked, it’s South Africa locked.  It is a country completely surrounded on all sides by South Africa.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Ok, so how did that happen?  It’s complicated, but essentially the Basotho people kept fighting during the years of European colonization and they generally caused enough trouble that the British gave them some self-rule within the protectorate of Basutoland.  When the South African Union was formed in 1910, the British wanted Basutoland to be part of the Union, but they have enough self-rule to say no.  So they remained an independent protectorate.  In 1966 the British granted them full independence and Basutoland became the Kingdom of Lesotho.

DSC3707wtmk

http://www.africaontheblog.com/lesotho-enchanting-kingdom-in-the-sky/

Independence has not been kind to Lesotho.  The country is poor and largely dependent on South African imports.  Worse than the poverty is the destruction that has been caused by HIV/AIDS.  Lesotho has the 2nd highest adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world.  Some estimate that there are, within the 1.9 million people living in Lesotho, almost 400,000 are HIV/AIDS orphans.  I couldn’t find a good source for that number, but CIA World Factbook puts Lesotho with the 3rd highest death rate in the world.   Life is hard in Lesotho.

On the other side of the equation, years of staying more or less independent have resulted in a rich culture.  And that leads out of the darkness and to the dinner table.  At the center of the family food experience is the 3 stone fireplace in the courtyard of the family home.  This is where the women cook a giant pot of pap pap every day.  Pap pap is the staple of the Basotho diet.  It is a cornmeal porridge.  Much like the yucca porridges so common in other parts of Africa, few meals are enjoyed in Lesotho without pap pap.  It is sometimes seasoned with garlic, but often is just cornmeal and water.  It is filling but bland to the American palate, so I spiced it up a bit with a generous amount of garlic and some fresh corn.  It helped pump up the flavor and the pap pap is a great creamy balance for the spice and acid of the rest of the dish.

Because of the British influence, flavors have come to Lesotho from various British colonies, which means we can bring some curry into our burger patty.  Meat isn’t always available, but when it is, chicken is one of the most popular.  Like I’ve mentioned before, the best way to do chicken burgers is to get chicken thighs and marinate them, then grind the meat fresh for the burger.  So that’s what I did here, lime, curry, onion and garlic flavors ground in with the meat – flavorful and delicious.

I topped the whole thing off with a kale and pea mixture with some spicy peppers.  What we got was a rustic tasting burger with just enough spice and a hearty feel.  It reminded be of a nice roasted chicken and polenta – but a little more interesting because there was a hint of curry and a touch of spice.  Perfect for the cold nights that are starting to hit New England.

If you like this burger, you should try the Gabonese burger – it’s another great chicken burger that’s packed with flavor.

Lesotho Burger
1½ pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pap pap (recipe below)
Kale and peas (recipe below)

Rub the oil all over the chicken.  Combine all spices in a bowl then sprinkle the spice mixture on the chicken.  Let it sit for an hour.  Grind the chicken then form four patties.  Cook the patties in a cast iron skillet until chicken reaches 165°F.  To serve, spoon ¼ of the pap pap on each plate, then add the cooked patties and a scoop of the kale and peas.

Pap pap
1 ear of corn
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups water
1 cup medium grind corn meal

Remove the corn kernels from the ear.  In a large sauce pan, melt the ghee over medium high heat.  Add the corn, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt and cook stirring regularly until garlic browns lightly (about 3 minutes).  Add 2½ cups of water and stir to get any stuck on bits off pan.  Add the corn meal and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.  Turn to medium low and cook for 30 minutes.  Add the rest of the water and stir until smooth.  Cook another 10 minutes.

BH&T Lesotho Pap Pap

Kale and peas
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
1 medium onion cut in half then thinly sliced
1 jalapeno seeded and sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5-6 cups fresh kale, stems removed and chopped
1 cup frozen peas

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet.  Add onions, jalapenos and salt and cook over medium heat until soft and just starting to brown.  Add kale and peas, cover and cook over low heat for 2 minutes.  Uncover and turn up heat to medium and stir.  Cook for another 2 minutes or until kale is softened.

©Copyright 2014 Linda Monach

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