Russian Waste-Not Burger

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen some recent tweets about my upcoming talk on the Future of Food at TED@IBM. One of themes I’ll be discussing is food waste, and how recipe-generating Chef Watson can help. About 1/3 of the food produced worldwide is wasted, and consumers have their share of responsibility. According to a recent article on Yahoo, the five most wasted foods at home are sour cream, produce (especially celery), fresh herbs (like parsley and cilantro), citrus, and bread. So I decided to give Chef Watson a spin. I tried to input all five ingredients and create something with a Russian influence. The system offered me a few options. Crostini was probably the most straightforward dish to use large amounts of these ingredients, but sandwiches and burgers seemed more creative to me. I went for the awkwardly named “Russian celery, parsley, lemon juice, sour cream and bread” burger.

Russian Burger - made with 5 most wasted foodsChef Watson got back to me with ideas that were both inspiring and slightly puzzling. I have to admit some of the ingredients aren’t all that quintessentially Russian. Fennel and olives, really? That might make sense in Bulgaria, but much less so in Russia. However, a) all the ingredients go really well together, b) I can live with a Russian-Bulgarian burger, and c) there are indeed many Russian elements: the tomatoes, pickles, sour cream, rye bread, and veal. Besides, all in all, this is a really good burger.

The key to using our five most wasted ingredients is the celery ketchup, which is inspired by Heston Blumenthal’s cucumber ketchup. It will definitely help you get rid of plenty of celery and lemon juice. Depending on what you have on hand, you could increase the amounts of parsley and sour cream, and add some lemon zest — this is a pretty flexible recipe. As a reminder, the gellan F, which gives the ketchup most of its texture, can be purchased here.

Celery ketchup
Yields about 4 servings

240 g celery stalks
about 2 g gellan F
30 g lemon juice
8 g sugar
13 g parsley
70 g sour cream
salt
black pepper, ground
50 g cornichons, brunoise

  • Process the celery in a juice extractor, and pass the juice through a chinois. Weigh the juice (I had about 200 g), and measure 1% of that amount in gellan F.
  • In a saucepan, heat the celery juice to 90 C. Transfer to a blender, and pour in the gellan F while mixing on low speed. Blend for 1 minute at high speed, then transfer to a bowl, and let cool over ice water until the mixture reaches room temperature and is completely set.
  • Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Blanch the parsley in boiling water for a few seconds, then drain.
  • Place the celery gel, lemon mixture, blanched parsley, and sour cream in a blender, and process until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix in the cornichons. Reserve.

Russian-Bulgarian salsa
Yields 4 servings

65 g fennel bulb, small dice
12 g butter
90 g tomato concassé, small dice
35 g kalamata olives, small dice

  • In a small pan over medium heat, sauté the fennel in the butter until golden brown. Let cool.
  • Mix the fennel, tomato concassé, and olives in a small bowl. Reserve at room temperature.

Veal patties
Yields 4 servings

640 g ground veal
8 g salt
0.4 g ground black pepper
1.5 g ground coriander seeds
0.6 g star anise
0.6 g ginger

  • In a bowl, mix the veal, salt, pepper, coriander, star anise, and ginger, using a spatula.
  • Shape into 4 patties, without compacting the meat too much.

Assembly
Yields 4 servings

veal patties
about 30 g canola oil
8 slices rye bread, 1 cm thick, cut into 9 cm diameter discs
16 g butter
celery ketchup
Russian-Bulgarian salsa

  • 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 medium-rare burger, I take it out when the internal temperature reaches 120 F — that way it’ll go up to 130 F on its own after a few minutes.) Reserve on a plate.
  • In a pan over medium heat, toast the bread slices in the butter until brown on both sides.
  • For each burger, spread some celery ketchup on a slice of the bread, add a veal patty, and top with Russian-Bulgarian salsa and another slice of bread. Serve immediately.

Russian Burger - made with 5 most wasted foods