Bah-hamburger - a Christmas tale of the unexpected

Christmas for me is all about surprise.From the expression of excitement and anticipation on a small child´s face as it tears the wrapping off a present, to the look of astonishment and incredulity on an aging relatives face when a untraditional plate of Christmas dinner is put before them.
I am afraid I have long since lost that magic of snowdrifts, sleigh bells and carols by candlelight.Nowadays the bah humbug is crushing the Bing Crosby in me and I cant get gooey eyed and sentimental about cocktails and canapés.I have always been more of a “Mummy´s kissing Santa Claus” kind of guy and this year the radical in me has come out with a vengeance.Oh the weather outside is not so frightful (18ºC )and the fire is so delightfu,l but this year I have looked to all sides of the world to find some cultural traditions and references that perhaps would make Christmas a little bit different.My posts this month are unearthing Christmas recipes from across the globe.From Portugal and Spain, across continents to the United States, Colombia and Australia, to England.I have brought stringent reform to the Christmas dinner table and taking the all American hamburger as my catalyst I have created a turkey dinner with a difference.I have not only made the central focus a turkey burger but put a traditional stuffing of sausage, sage and onion in the centre of the meat.In place of cranberry relish there is a sweet chili topping to spread on the bun.Bread sauce comes in the guise of Migas and the matchsticked carrots were given a Carribean warmth and sweetness by being roasted in Pimenta da Jamaica (Allspice) and orange juice.
For the salad element that goes with a burger I included a crispy layer of shredded Chinese cabbage.To round it all off root game chips came from a re-invention of a longstanding English tradition

Here´s how its done:

One or two days day before
Get some  rustic bread to make the bread sauce
Make the chili relish
Make the stuffing

The night before
Prepare your burger mix and chill overnight

Migas branca (Bread sauce)
1 day-old loaf unsliced white bread
1 litre/2 pints full-fat milk
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp white peppercorns
2 blades fresh mace or heaped ¼ tsp ground mace
2 tsp salt
30g/1oz butter
2 tbsp double cream, optional
1 fresh nutmeg, for grating

Remove the crust from the bread and tear the stripped loaf into a mound of rough chunks or cubes about 2cm/¾in in size. You should end up with 175-200g (6¼-7¼oz) of cubes. If the bread is not slightly stale already, leave the pieces out on a wire rack to dry out.
Pour the milk into a saucepan. Press a clove into each quarter of the onion.
Add the onion quarters, bay leaves, peppercorns and the blades of mace (or sprinkle the ground mace into the pan) along with the salt and bring to the mixture almost to its boiling point.
Remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let the ingredients infuse for at least half an hour, though you can leave it for a few hours if that helps with your cooking schedule.
After the mixture has infused, place the pan back on a very low heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves and the blades of mace.
Add the bread to the saucepan and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, by which time the sauce should have become thick and warm.
Just before serving the bread sauce, add the butter to the saucepan and stir until the butter has melted and combined with the sauce and season, to taste, with salt.
Add the cream (if using). Grate over quite a bit of nutmeg, adding more once you have poured the bread sauce into a warmed bowl or gravy boat.

Chilli Mirin Relish 

5 hot red chillies chopped
400g tomatoes
2 cloves garlic peeled
150g(5oz) caster sugar
2 tbsp good quality white wine vinegar
soup spoon Mirin or sherry

In a food processor whizz the chillies,tomatoes and garlic until smooth.
Put the mixture into a small pan.Stir in the sugar and vinegar.Boil rapidly for 20 minutes until it has reached a jam like consistency.Cool slightly the pour into sterilized jar and seal.When ready to serve transfer the relish to a serving bowl and stir in the mirin or sherry.

The stuffing 

1 tbsp sunflower oil for frying
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp flaked sea salt
1 heaped tsp dried ground sage
sprig of thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
250g/1lb 8oz pork mince
175g/6oz fresh white breadcrumbs
dash of Worcester sauce,soya sauce or molho piccante
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add onion, celery and garlic with chili flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent. Cool slightly.Mix in the pork mince and continue cooking until mince is sealed and browned,stir in the sage and thyme,the worcester sauce.Stir well to mix and continue cooking for couple of minutes.Remove from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs until you have
achieved thick moist stuffing.Taste to adjust the seasoning.You will probably have more than you need to stuff your burgers so reserve for later and re-fry or use in sandwiches.
Transfer to a storage container and chill until you are ready to make your burgers.
Have yourself a merry little fast food Christmas

On the day

Bah-turkey burger
makes 6 x 180g 8cm burgers
(prepare your mix the night before)
2 courgettes, coarsely grated (net weight 250g)
Salt and black pepper
600g minced turkey, or chicken
2 medium free-range eggs
1½ tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp chopped coriander
3 tbsp chopped mint
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
60g chopped spring onion
Sunflower oil, for frying

Put the grated courgette in a sieve, mixed with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and leave to drain for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible with your hands, then put the courgette in a large mixing bowl along with the turkey, eggs, cumin, coriander, mint, garlic, three-quarters of the spring onion, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Chill overnight.
When you are ready to make your burgers( I added some dried breadcrumbs to the mix at this point to make it workable).
Take a deep pastry cutter the same size as the dimension of your burger bun when split open.Spoon some of the burger mix into the pastry cutter
to a depth of 2/3 of the cutter.leaving sufficient amount of meat in the bottom careful pull some of the meat out to the sides of the cutter making a well in the middle.fill the well with a spoonful of stuffing and then spoon more turkey mix on top to seal.Repeat with the remaining five burgers.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan with enough oil to cover the bottom. fry the patties for four minutes, turning once, until nice and brown on both sides. Transfer to a baking tray and finish off in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Allspice roasted carrots

6 medium carrots cut into thick matchsticks
extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon or more of  freshly ground allspice
Flor de sal  and freshly ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
125ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes or so, until nearly fork-tender but still have some firmness. Drain thoroughly.
On a baking sheet, toss the carrots with enough oil to coat them generously, then toss them with the allspice and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 10 minutes, shaking and turning often, until nicely seared and browned here and there.
Remove the pan from the oven and while the carrots are still in it, add the garlic and orange juice and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot or at room temperature added to your burger.

NOTE:You can par-cook the carrots and set them aside to drain for up to several hours before sliding them in the oven. These little lovelies are also quite nice when served warm, as opposed to hot from the oven, so if they need to linger on the counter a few minutes before going from baking sheet to serving dish, all is not lost.

Last minute root vegetable game chips
The inspiration for this was those fancy schmancy multi coloured root vegetable chips you find in posh health food shops or the gourmet ingredient section of supermarkets.For a mere fraction of the exorbitant cost you can have these personally customized, just as impressive and home made, deep fried lovelies.You can choose just which root veggies you want and just what proportions you want of each.They’re moorish just to munch with a tipple but also make a noble side to the big bird,steak or roast hen.

a selection of red skinned potatoes,parsnips,red beets,golden beets,sweet potatoes,carrots
About 8 cups sunflower oil, for frying
Sea salt, to taste

Wash, peel and thinly slice the root vegetables. For best results, the slices should be almost paper thin, about 1/16 inch. Sprinkle the slices with about 1 tsp salt, mix and let stand for 15 minutes to extract water. The less water they contain, the better they will fry. Then rinse, and pat dry thoroughly.
Pour enough sunflower oil into a tall-sided pan to cover the bottom surface; the oil should be about 1/4 inch deep. Heat the oil on medium heat to about 350F 175C(the oil will be sufficiently hot when a test slice dropped into the oil sizzles satisfyingly). With tongs and working in batches, carefully place the slices in a single layer in the pan. Fry the chips until crisp, about 3 minutes per batch, flipping with tongs occasionally. The chips are ready when slightly darkened in color and they begin to resemble wilted petals. Remove with tongs immediately and let dry completely on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve and enjoy.


Split your burger buns in half and lay a layer of shredded chinese leaves on the bottom of each.Top with a thick layer of bread sauce then the roasted carrots.Place your burgers on next and brush a thin layer of chili relish on the top of each burger.Replace the lid on the buns and transfer to serving plates.Surround with a selection of game chips and extra bread sauce and chili relish.

*Just a little historical note:These crispy type chips were invented in England to accompany roast pheasant (or other game) and are called ‘game chips’. They are cooked at the very last minute before serving the meat, sliced very fine, deep fried in oil, drained and salted. They are served on the same plate and are the perfect compliment to game! Most important weight-wise, only 5 or 6 chips are served per plate and strangely that is all that is needed since more somehow unbalances the meal…one medium potato is enough for 6 people.


Popular Posts