Having spent over two decades in the United States so far, there are some classics I have come to love and appreciate in American cuisine. With summer follows barbecue, and the hamburger comes first to mind. With big hunks of Jarlsberg cheese in my fridge these days, I am constantly thinking of ways to blend the cultures of Norway and the United States that will please my readers from both nations. Sure, I could make a fabulous grilled cheese, but many before me have done this and I wanted to do something different. I will readily admit that my husband is definitely fonder of burgers than I am, but he has taught me how to make a proper, juicy burger that has made even me an avid fan. In a previous post I explained that Norway has its own version of the hamburger, called “Karbonader” , but today I will include my more Americanized recipe for the burger itself.
Few argue with the statement that cheese makes everything better, and is there a more decadent cheese to use on a hamburger than Jarlsberg? Rich and nutty with a texture that combines perfectly with the meat, it should be a required standard offering with other classics such as Swiss, American and Provolone when ordering a cheeseburger.
When designing my burger plate, I wanted to add more Norwegian touches to it. I was looking for something acidic and refreshing to cut through the fat of the meat and the cheese, so naturally my mind went to pickled cucumbers and onions. My pickling liquid is awesome: I use a 1-2-3 ratio (1 part sugar, 2 parts vinegar, 3 parts water) and add a cinnamon stick, some cloves, all spice, star anise and some chopped fresh ginger. Bring it all to a boil and turn off the heat and let steep for about 30 minutes before straining over your vegetables.
This time I added fresh stalks of dill into the jars with the cucumbers as well, which added another dimension of that typical Scandinavian flavor.
A second “secret” we have in the Nordic countries, is our very special mustard sauce. Typically we fancy ours up, it simply won’t suffice to just slap the bun with mustard from a jar! The horror!! I will include my own recipe for a heavenly mustard sauce in this post, as long as you promise to keep it to yourself.. :) This adds another layer of flavor and honestly, makes the burger even more decadent. Make a large batch and add it to your smoked salmon sandwiches, grilled cheese or as a condiment to charcuterie platters. One of my secret ingredients in my my mustard sauce:
Thirdly, instead of just throwing in a bag of potato chips with this meal, why not add some beet chips? And no, you don’t buy them, you MAKE them!! Incredibly sweet and earthy when baked on low heat in the oven, they are also ten times healthier than regular chips and is a great way of using beets.
Lastly, do you think I would even dream of using store bought buns? Heavens, no! The Jarlsberg and the flavorful homemade burger deserves an equally delicious partner, so I have gone to the extra step of providing my amazing recipe for burger buns made from scratch. These are incredibly easy to make, and if you are going to go all out, you might as well add this to your to do list when making this recipe. You won’t regret it!!
Adding all of these steps, what do you get? A gorgeous, juicy cheeseburger with decadent Jarlsberg cheese in a fluffy, homemade bun, spread with a flavor packed Scandinavian special mustard sauce, topped with refreshing, dill pickled cucumbers and onions, served with sweet and earthy baked beet chips. If you don’t love this, please check your pulse!
Are you ready to cook??! Start here:
SUNNY’S SCANDINAVIAN MUSTARD SAUCE
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tbsp mustard power
1 large shallot (or 2 small)
3 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp garlic confit
2 cups grape seed oil
* 1 tbsp pickled mustard seed *recipe to follow
Add egg, mustard powder, water, shallots and garlic to a food processor. Add in the oil in a slow stream while the motor is running. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of sugar. Add pickled mustard seeds. Cool and store.
I got the recipe for pickled mustard seeds in one of my favorite cookbooks, Momofuku, co-authored by David Chang, the chef of the very popular restaurant of the same name here in NYC.
PICKLED MUSTARD SEEDS
Adapted from “Momofuku” by David Chang and Peter Meehan
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups water (more as needed)
1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
Combine the mustard seeds, water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a very gentle simmer over low heat. Cook the mustard seeds, stirring often, until they are plump and tender, about 45 minutes.
Note: it is important to cook them this long and until plump, otherwise they get a bit too much of a bitter taste. If the seeds look to be drying out, add more water as needed to keep the seeds barely submerged. Cool and store in a covered container in the fridge. Pickled mustard seeds will keep for months.
LIGHT AND FLUFFY HAMBURGER BUNS
Makes 8 large buns
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 tsp salt
about 1 lb all purpose flour
1/2 stick (or 60 g/ 2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed small
sesame seeds or poppy seeds for sprinkling buns
In a stand mixer with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients except the butter, and knead on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes. Add in the cubed butter and continue kneading for another 5 minutes until you have a smooth, shiny dough that has released from the edges of the bowl and formed a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Punch dough down, roll out into a thick link and cut into pieces weighing about 4-5 oz each. Roll into balls and flatten slightly with the palm on your hand and place on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise again for about 45 minutes, while preheating the oven to 450F.
Brush the top of the buns with a bit of egg white, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, place in oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden on top.
Next is beet chips – these are best the day they are eaten. It may take a few tries before they turn perfect, but I think you will be happy you went to the trouble.
HOME MADE BAKED BEET CHIPS
Serves about 4
2 medium beets, washed and peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
salt for seasoning after baking
Preheat oven to 325F and position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
Using a mandolin, slice the beets 1/16th inch thick and place them in a bowl, toss them with olive oil.
Place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and place another rimmed baking sheet on top. Repeat with a new set of baking sheet.
Place them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes covered with the baking sheet. After 20 minutes, remove the top sheet and continue baking for another 20 minutes uncovered. The beets should get lighter in color, make sure to monitor them throughout because each oven is different. Remove from oven, and place on a rimmed rack and sprinkle with a little sea salt. The chips will crisp up as they cool.
I would imagine the hamburgers you are about to cook may taste really good with a gamey meat like reindeer for the added Norwegian touch, or venison or elk if reindeer is not available. Keep in mind this is a much leaner meat and will easily dry out, so be mindful not to overcook if you choose this option. For my recipe, I used ground beef and I chose to keep the seasoning fairly simple to not interfere with the toppings and sides. I named it after my dog, Thor. Here he is, guarding my cookbooks:
THOR’S THUNDER BURGER
Makes 4 burgers
2 lbs ground beef (or ground meat of your choice)
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground fennel
salt, pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in bowl and shape into four 8 oz burgers. Let sit out for a few minutes before you put them on the grill or saute them.
Saute /grill over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side for medium rare, 5 minutes on each side for medium. As I was in a hurry yesterday, I chose to saute them:
Once the hamburgers are cooked and have rested for about 5 minutes, you are ready to assemble your meal!
Slice the hamburger buns in half and spread them with your mustard sauce:
Place a couple of nice romaine lettuce leaves and a slice of beef steak tomato on the mustard spread buns:
And, most importantly top with the burger and add lots of Jarlsberg cheese!
Finally, top with some dill pickled cucumbers and onions and garnish with a dill sprig:
Serve with your baked beet chips, and you are ready to eat a delicious burger that will hopefully taste like Norway mixed with America!