Super bowl XLIV: Gumbo and Sweet Potato Pie

I was pretty happy that the Saints made it to the Super Bowl this year, but I honestly did not think they would actually win! That was a fantastic game. Either way I knew I’d be making some good food to match the Saint’s home state. The main course was gumbo. This one is shrimp, sausage and chicken. I used a recipe from “Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of  New Orleans” for the gumbo and changed it up a bit. I used a bit less oil and added half a pound of okra in there. For the roux I used Alton Brown’s method of making it in the oven. Sure it takes more time but is very convenient and almost guarantees a perfect, dark but not burned roux.

For dessert I wanted to make a sweet potato pie, also based on a recipe from the same book. I made the dough with the standard 3-2-1 pastry dough recipe, the perfect ratio of flour-butter-water for a flaky and delicious pie dough. The filling recipe only made enough to fill half the pie, so I quickly decided that the sweet potato pie is now a sweet potato-pecan pie. Good and very tasty decision that was.

The Best Chicken Burger, Lebanese style

This is my absolute favorite chicken burger recipe. Diana requests it almost every time I ask her what she would like to eat off the grill. I first created this recipe for some ‘Best Burger’ contest. I did not win, but since then this beauty is a winner every time I make it for friends. The origin for the recipe is the Lebanese dish Shish Tawook which is chicken chunks marinated and grilled on skewers. The aioli that goes with the burger is inspired by Hummus bil Tahini better known in the US as ‘Hummus’ dip. I usually also make my own buns but store bought Kaiser buns are perfectly fine.

Some of the marinade prep. 

 

Marinating the chicken. Note how I leave some fat on the meat.

Creamy -and very addictive- Hummus Aioli. Tastes great on the burger and with fries.

Grilling over charcoal is the best way to go.

One side is done, one to go…

Served…

…but I usually eat at least two with lots of homemade fries. These buns are home baked too.

Now, here’s the recipe. Give it a try.

Lebanese Chicken Burger

Burgers:
8-10 Garlic cloves
3 Tbsp Chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp Tomato paste
1 Tbsp Yellow mustard
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3 lbs Skinless and Boneless Chicken thighs, trimmed of any sinew or excessive fat (leave some fat in though) and cut into cubes
3 Tbsp plain bread crumbs

Aioli:
½ Cup canned Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas), drained
1 garlic clove, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp ground Cumin
1 Egg
¾ Cup Vegetable or canola oil

To Serve:
10-12 Burger Buns
Green leaf lettuce
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced red Bell pepper
Pickled cucumbers, preferably the garlicky sour middle eastern ones
Homemade French Fries

4 to 24 hours before you want to enjoy these burgers marinate the chicken. Combine all the burgers’ ingredients except for the chicken and crumbs in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and pulverize to a paste. I like to do that with a granite mortar and pestle instead, but a processor works fine. Season the marinade with salt and pepper. Be a bit aggressive since this is the chicken’s seasoning. Place the marinade and the chicken in a bowl or Ziploc bag, mix well and refrigerate till you are ready to use.
When you are ready to make the patties, place the chicken and any marinade stuck to it in a food processor and pulse till the chicken is finely chopped but not creamed. Place the chicken in a bowl and add the crumbs and mix well. Form the mixture into 10 or 12 (depending how much you trimmed the meat) 4 oz patties. Oiling your hands helps with this process. Grill them over charcoal or if all else fails, under the broiler.

The Aioli can be made hours or even a day or two ahead of time. In a blender combine everything except the oil and puree till smooth. With the blender running, drizzle the oil in a VERY THIN stream. The end result should look very much like a slightly grainy mayonnaise. Well, that’s what this is. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, lightly grill the buns, slather generously with the aioli on both sides and add the patty. Top with your favorite garnishes and serve with a side of fries. A small ramekin of extra aioli goes great with the fries too.