Venison and Potato Latke Burgers with Vodka-Battered Vegetables

Posted by Florian in Meat, Polish Food, Recipes, Ukrainian Food, tagged with , , , ,

A whole deer, even if you keep the backstraps and legs whole, yields a lot of ground meat, mostly from the neck and the belly. This is nothing to worry about: these are the perfect cuts to make burgers. All you need is a good repertoire of burger recipes. And of course, if you don’t like venison, ground beef from your favorite butcher or CSA (what, you don’t have a CSA???) will do.

Venison and Potato Latke Burger

I’ve already blogged about Bohemian Venison Burgers and Hungarian Lángos Goulash Burgers. This time, I’m doing a Polish / Belarusian / Ukrainian version. Hey, with enough deer meat, I might post one burger recipe for each country of the Eastern Bloc!

The yiddish word latke comes from Ukrainian oladka — remember my oladi recipe? The beauty of adding this potato pancake to your sandwich is that it will compensate for the blandness of store-bought buns, thus saving you the time of making your own potato bun. Portobello mushrooms are the perfect complement to the potatoes, and heavy cream helps add some juiciness and fat to the lean ground venison. As for the cheese, the fruity and nutty taste of aged gouda is a good match for the meatiness of the portobellos and the meat itself. Also, Dutch cheese is quite popular in Eastern Europe. For example, there are (or were, before the new ban) a total of sixty Dutch dairy companies exporting their products to Russia.

Now that we put the potatoes right inside the burger, a side of fries seems redundant. Instead, vodka-battered vegetables maintain the idea of crunchy finger food, without the spuds. You can use pretty much any vegetable you’d like; my only advice is to vary the shapes — batons, cubes, slices, florets…

Potato LatkesPotato latkes
Yields 6 latkes

5 oz onion, thinly sliced
0.5 oz olive oil
10 oz peeled Yukon gold potatoes
1 egg
0.5 oz flour
1/2 tsp (4 g) salt
1/8 tsp (0.3 g) ground black pepper
about 12 oz canola oil

  • In a pan over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until golden brown, stirring regularly. Let cool.
  • Coarsely grate the potatoes. Transfer to a kitchen towel, wrap, then squeeze the liquid into a container, and let rest for 15 minutes. Discard the liquid, keeping only the starch that settled at the bottom.
  • In a bowl, mix the egg, flour, salt, and ground pepper with a whisk. Add the onions, potatoes, and starch, and mix with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Pour about 1/4″ of canola oil into a frying pan, and bring to 325 F.
  • Divide the potato mixture into 6 parts. Proceeding in batches, take each part in your hand, shape into a flat pancake slightly smaller than your burger bun, and gently drop into the oil. Fry the latkes until golden brown on both sides. You want to make them really thin, otherwise the potato will mask the other flavors in the burger. Reserve.

Mushroom sauce
Yields 4 servings

8 oz portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 oz olive oil
1/4 tsp (2 g) salt
8 oz hard cider
4 oz heavy cream

  • In a pan over high heat, sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil until soft.
  • Season with salt, add the cider, and simmer over medium heat until reduced to about 1/4.
  • Add the heavy cream, and keep reducing, stirring regularly, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Reserve.

Venison and Potato Latke BurgerVenison and potato latke burgers
Yields 4 servings

4 ground venison patties, 5 oz each
about 6 g (1% of the meat weight) salt
about 1 oz canola oil
4 potato latkes
4 burger buns
3.2 oz aged gouda, sliced
mushroom sauce

  • Season the patties with salt. In a frying pan over high heat, sauté the patties briefly in the canola oil, until just brown on both sides. Remove from the pan, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Return the patties to the pan and repeat the above process two more times, cleaning the pan and adding oil as needed. The final time, leave the meat in the pan long enough to reach the desired doneness. (For a rare venison burger, I take it out when the internal temperature reaches 110 F — this way it will go up to 120 F on its own after a few minutes.) Reserve on a plate.
  • Place the latkes and open buns on a baking sheet. Top the upper halves of the buns with some gouda, and heat in a 400 F oven. The latkes and bun bottoms will be ready before the cheese-covered tops, so take them out first.
  • Gently reheat the mushroom sauce.
  • To assemble each burger, stack the elements in the following sequence: bun bottom, potato latke, venison patty, cooking juices from patty, mushroom sauce, bun top with cheese. Serve immediately.

Vodka Battered VegetablesVodka batter
Yields over 4 servings

0.8 oz corn starch
6 oz white flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp (7 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (4 g) salt
1/8 tsp (0.3 g) black pepper, ground
7.5 oz sparkling water
2.5 oz vodka
0.5 oz olive oil

  • In a bowl, mix the corn starch, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the sparkling water, vodka, and olive oil, and beat with a whisk until homogeneous. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Vodka-battered vegetables
Yields 4 servings

2 oz corn starch
1/4 tsp (2 g) salt
36 oz canola oil
4 cauliflower florets, about 1 oz each
4 small peeled baby carrots, about 0.4 oz each
4 batons peeled parsnip, about 0.4 oz each
4 cubes peeled celery root, about 0.8 oz each
4 batons peeled scallion, about 0.4 oz each
vodka batter

  • Mix the corn starch and salt in a bowl.
  • Bring the oil to 375 F in a saucepan.
  • Proceeding in batches, coat each piece of vegetable with corn starch, shake off the excess, dip in the vodka batter, and carefully drop into the oil. Fry just until the batter takes on a rich golden brown color, flipping regularly — make sure the batter gets dark enough, or you will find the vegetables may not be cooked through.
  • Take the vegetables out of the oil, and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Vodka Battered Vegetables