For those of you who have visited Ireland, what is most striking is the countryside and vast areas of green landscapes. There are layers of color that all blend to make a perfect picture, and they are the inspiration for how I approach plating my dishes. Two years ago I suffered from an extreme knee injury, which took a great deal of time to recover from. My grandmother, who is an amazing cook, took it upon herself to look after me during this time. She knew my love for a simple burger, but in an effort to nurse me back to health she removed all carbohydrates from the dish and made a beautiful kale burger with a bun that was made out of squash. All the ingredients were sourced from the fields in County Fermanagh and created with patience and love. The Irish Kale Burger is a celebration of my Irish heritage and my grandmother.
Ingredients: (Yield makes 4-6 burgers)
- 1 small winter squash
- 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
- 1 small red onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 bunches kale, finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons fiery salsa for recipe and 2 for topping
- 1 egg yolk (large egg)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili or red pepper flakes
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1–2 tablespoons pure Irish butter (preferably Kerrygold)
- 1 small white onion, roughly diced
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Remove the skin of the squash and scoop out the seeds. Dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a roasting dish and roast for approximately 20 minutes until soft.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, red onion, garlic, kale, salsa, egg yolk, chili or red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Make sure all the ingredients are chopped evenly and well mixed through, or the burger will not cook properly.
- Divide the meat mixture into 4 portions. Using your hands, gently form each portion into a ball shape, making sure not to overwork the meat.
- In a frying pan over medium-high heat, fry the white onion in the butter until caramelized, achieving a nice browning effect. Then set aside.
- Heat the frying pan on high heat for 1 minute, then reduce it to medium-high and add the burgers to the pan. Do not touch the burgers once you have them in the frying pan. Cook them until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes, then flip them. Cook until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, about 3 minutes, for medium rare or until desired doneness.
- Take the squash out of the oven and mash with an avocado or potato masher or a fork. Then use your hands or a patty maker (see Tip) to shape the squash into the “buns” for your burgers.
- To assemble the burgers, put one of the squash buns in the middle of a plate. Top with a burger and align them perfectly. Layer the avocado slices on top of the burger, add some caramelized onion, and top with salsa. You can either leave the burger open or add an additional layer of squash on top.
TIP - Someone gave me a fancy burger maker that makes all my burgers the perfect shape and width, but you can just use your hands. You can also search on Amazon for a burger maker or patty press. They range from $8 to $20.