It’s hard to bring a bit of Minnesota to you when you’re living in Italy. Hell, it’s hard enough to recreate North American foods, but couple that with the less-than healthy fare of the midwest and now you’ve gotta be extra creative.
While I’ve tried many times this past year to make some beloved favourites from scratch like pumpkin pies and bagels, things like cheesy potatoes and tater tot hotdish are gonna have to take a backseat until I’ve freed up some extra time...however, making my own tater tots is very much on my culinary agenda!
That said, burgers are the one thing that I’ve been able to master here in Bra. Though I have a modest “grill” skillet pan, it seems to do the trick and God knows I need bbq'd foods for the warmer season. After all, is it really summer if you don’t have char marks on your dinner?
I’ve dubbed this the Minnesota burger because it combines a few key ingredients that remind me of the place I affectionately refer to as “back home” even if it has never actually been home for me, but rather just for my dad. It’s through my dad and his eternal friendships that I’ve learned to love all that the midwest has to offer. Between marshmallow salads and wild rice-laced bratwurst, there’s a culinary culture that’s quite unlike anything else.
What makes this burger so unique is that it has elements like wild rice, blueberries and venison that remind me of trips to visit my family in Rainy Lake, spending time at the huntin’ shack and foraging wild blueberries nearby. For me, it’s these three staples that are synonymous to Minnesota and luckily, together they’re pretty tasty.
While I could only find substitutes for wild rice (riso di venere) and venison (beef), this burger managed to do the trick and transport me back to a familiar place thanks to some beloved flavours. I hope my Minnesotan companions will agree!
. . .
The Minnesota Burger
* Makes 4 servings*
1 pound ground venison (I could only find beef in Italy!)
1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled
⅓ cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 bottle of beer (the more Minnesotan the better!)
1 pat butter
1 white onion, sliced
Fire up the BBQ!
Mix beef, rice, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder together in a bowl.
Form four patties, shaping them into circles with a thickness equivalent to the width of your thumb. Set aside.
In a pan over low heat, melt butter. Add onions and sauté until golden and translucent 30 minutes. Set aside.
Place burger patties on grill and coat with half the bottle of beer. Cook on one side for about 6 minutes. Flip and repeat. Once done, remove from the grill and set aside to rest.
Assemble your burger by adding garlic mayo to the bottom bun, then add the burger, followed by blueberry jam, caramelized onions and topped with crumbled blue cheese.
Enjoy with an ice cold beer and pretend you’re at the lake!