RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Tbilisi Burger

This burger contains all the classic ingredients of Georgian cuisine: cheese bread, walnuts, eggplant, lamb and beef. Even pastrami is derived from Georgian basturma, a dish of spicy cured beef.

Ingredients 

For the cheese mixture:
1 1/2 cups feta, drained
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 egg
For the walnut mixture:
2 cups walnut chunks
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons flour
8 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cognac
For the patties:
1 1/2 lb ground beef chuck
1/2 lb ground lamb
1/3 cup minced sweet onion
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
For the burgers:
12 pitas
vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
12 slices of pastrami
1/2 cup babaghanoush (or any other eggplant salad you can find), finely chopped
6 large slices of tomato

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.
To make the cheese mixture:
- Blend the feta, shredded mozzarella and egg in a food processor until smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
To make the walnut mixture:
- Blend the walnut chunks, confectioner's sugar, flour, butter, eggs and cognac in a food processor until smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
To make the patties:
- Combine the ground beef chuck, ground lamb, minced sweet onion, egg, garlic powder, salt and ground pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well.
- Shape into 6 round patties, about 3/4" thick (thicker patties will be hard to eat).
- Loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
To make the burgers:
- Trim the pitas on two sides to fit the size of the patties.
- Spread the cheese mixture inside 6 of the pitas.
- Spread the walnut mixture inside the remaining 6 pitas.
- Wrap the pitas into 6 pieces of foil, each containing one cheese pita and one walnut pita, one on top of the other.
- Place the wrapped pitas on the grill rack, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping them once. Opening one of the foils, check that the cheese mixture is melted and that the walnut mixture is cooked through. Remove from the heat and let rest.
- Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil.
- Grill the pastrami on each side until brown and crisp, then transfer to paper towels to remove excess fat.
- Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning just once, until done to preference (3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium). Remove from the heat and let rest while assembling the burgers.
- Unwrap the pitas.
- If necessary, cut the pastrami slices to fit the length of the pitas.
- Spread each walnut pita with some of the babaghanoush, then place a patty on top, followed by 2 slices of pastrami and a slice of tomato.
- Top each burger with a cheese pita and serve.

Comments 

This may look like a lot of steps, but the cheese mixture, the walnut mixture and the patties are very simple to make: for each of them, simply combine all the ingredients together!