Today was one of those perfect fall days. The air was crisp, the sky was a clear, true blue and there was only a whisper of a breeze. My husband and I took a long walk, meandering through streets and neighborhoods that we normally never go through. It is a favorite past-time of ours and we love to walk until just before the point of exhaustion. We arrived home and I still was happy to make dinner. Tonight I made slightly spicy “Thai” chicken burgers, a green salad and then I had to decide what to do for a side. As Frances said in an earlier post, the sides are what can take something that you make all of the time and send it to a new level. I decided to concoct some coconut rice pilaf. I always have coconut milk on hand because if you are cooking a meal for people who keep Kosher or are vegan, it’s a wonderful substitute for dairy. And I buy Basmati rice in 10 pound bags because we love it that much. Everyone has their own pantry staples and mine always include a nice variety of nuts and dried fruits, so I knew that I had the makings for a delicious pilaf without having to go to the store. I also keep some kind of chutney on hand and this time I had Major Grey Mango Chutney which was a nice accent to the burgers.
“Thai” Chicken Burgers adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow
Yield 3-4 servings
1 pound ground chicken, white or dark meat
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 bunch finely chopped cilantro
2 shallots, finely minced
1 teaspoon red pepper paste (I used Harissa, but you could use red bean paste with chili or Korean red pepper paste)
2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons of a neutral oil (I used Grapeseed, but canola or safflower oil would be fine)
- Using your hands (I know, I know, but you just have to!) thoroughly mix everything except for the oil together. Wetting your hands in cold water, form either 3 patties or 4 patties about 1 inch thick. I made 3, but if you are a very small eater or being good about your diet, by all means make 4.
- Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and then add the oil.When the oil sizzles if you drop a tiny amount of water in the pan, add the burgers. This will spatter so understand ahead of time that you will have to wipe your stove top when you are finished. Get over it.
- This part is going to depend a bit on the size of your burger. I made 3 burgers out of 1 pound of chicken and cooked them for 6 minutes on the first side and 8 minutes, covered on the second side. My burgers were pretty thick so they were wonderfully juicy, but fully cooked when I finished. Do allow your burgers to sit in the pan with the heat turned off for 5 minutes before serving them. This will allow the burgers to absorb back all of the juices that otherwise would run right out the second you cut into them. You do not want to undercook chicken. If the burger looks nicely browned and seems firm to the touch, it’s probably done.
Coconut Rice Pilaf
Yield: 6 servings
1 cup Basmati Rice (Texmati rice will do if you can’t easily find Basmati rice. I buy mine from Amazon…)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried currants or Sultana raisins
1/4 cup of blanched slivered almonds
1 stick of cinnamon bark
1 15.3 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup clover honey or other light colored honey
zest of one orange
Vanilla Soy milk, almond milk or regular milk
- In a small skillet melt the butter and saute the chopped shallot and currants or raisins until the shallots are softened.
- Add the turmeric, cardamom, orange zest and honey and mix through. Set aside.
- In a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid, add the coconut milk and enough of the other milk to make 2 generous cups. Add the cinnamon bark.
- Bring the milk to a boil and add in the rice and give it a stir. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low so that the liquid simmers. Cook for 14 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Warm the currant mixture just until the honey is liquified and then pour it into the cooked rice and gently mix it through. Let the rice sit for a few mionutes to finish absorbing the liquid.