Staying with the island theme, we move on to Cyprus, an island nation in the Mediterranean. Based on Google® images, wow, what a beautiful place. Another one for my fantasy vacation list! Cyprus was a British colony until 1960. The people of Cyprus are primarily Greek 77% and Turkish 18%. These two groups have not coexisted peacefully over the years. In fact there is a Turkish enclave that has declared itself independent (after some fighting) in 1983. They call themselves the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and are not recognized by any international body except Turkey. The island was accepted into the EU in 2004, including any Turks that can prove Cypriot citizenship. The UN has been trying to get the Turkish and Greek Cypriots to unite for years. Talks are still ongoing but from what I can tell, violence seems to have subsided. Yeah – definitely on the fantasy vacation list! (on the map it’s that little dot in the far right hand corner that is vaguely orange and yellow)
I have to apologize to the Muslim minority of Cyprus; I decided to go with pork for this burger based on the dominant flavors of Cypriot food. And, the Greek majority does seem to love pork. Another thing they love is cheese, all sorts of cheese. In particular, the good people of Cyprus created a cheese that can be fried and doesn’t melt. If you’ve been to Greek restaurants in the US, they make a dish called flaming saganaki where they throw ouzo on the fried cheese and light it on fire – yell “Opa”! Then put out the fire with lemon juice. It’s a little slice of heaven. Halloumi is one of the cheeses can be used for saganaki. I couldn’t resist frying me some cheese, but I did resist lighting it on fire.
So, with a nicely seasoned pork patty and an irresistible fried cheese, we just needed something to lighten the dish up a bit. Enter the tzatziki, a Greek inspired dish made with yogurt, garlic and cucumber. I added a kalamata olive bread just to give it some extra punch and overall the effect was bright flavors layered over a rich and creamy base. I went a little crazy on this one and tried grinding my own pork mixture for the burger – it turned out great, but I also made a version with the regular ground pork that you get at the store. The family couldn’t agree which was better – they were really similar with a slightly meatier taste to the fresh ground and a stronger coriander flavor in the store ground version – both worked well with the toppings, so I’ll give you both recipes and you can decided based on how adventurous you feel or how much time you have. If you don’t grind your own, this is one of the easier burgers to make, it’s perfect any time of the year, so enjoy!
Cyprus burger (fresh ground)
¾ cup Cabernet
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ pound boneless pork loin cubed
½ pound boneless pork butt cubed
Combine the first five ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat until boiling. Remove from heat then cool until tepid. In a glass dish combine pork and wine mixture, cover and refrigerate 4-5 hours. Drain off excess liquid then grind the pork in a meat grinder (you want the coriander and garlic pieces in there too). Form four patties from the meat and grill in an oiled non-stick skillet until cooked through. Top the burger per the recipe below.
Cyprus burger (store ground pork)
1 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 slices olive bread or French bread
Tzatziki (recipe below)
Fried Halloumi (recipe below)
Mix pork, coriander and salt then form into four patties. Lightly oil a non-stick pan and grill each slice of bread on one side. In same pan cook the pork patties until cooked through. On four slices of bread layer enough spinach to cover the bread, then add two tomato slices. Next comes the cooked patties, then the Tzatziki then the Fired Halloumi. Top with the final slices of grilled bread.
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
5-6 cloves garlic crushed and minced
½ cup grated English cucumber drained
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of one lemon
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and refrigerate for at least a half hour before using (the longer it sits the more the garlic flavor will come forward).
4 slices of Halloumi cheese (about ¼ inch thick)
Fresh lemon juice
Dredge the Halloumi slices in flour (coat both sides). Heat enough olive oil to cover the pan to about ¼ inch deep until shimmering. Carefully place the cheese in the hot oil and fry until golden, then turn and fry the other side. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to drain. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on each slice. Serve hot.
©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach