Monday, January 18, 2016

Wine Club -- Dinner at Rick's Cafe Americain

Casablanca is my favorite movie.  I can still remember being introduced to the movie in college.  I was a second-year college student who elected to take a cinema class as part of my general education requirements.  The class was taught by Professor Turaj.  On the first day of the class, the Professor told his students (including me) that he could show the movies that other professors used in their courses.  However, he found many of them boring.  Instead, he was going to show movies that he liked ... and that we would like.  So, we got to see movies like High Noon, Deer Hunter, and, of course, Casablanca.  

The iconic movie's plot unfolds at the fictitious Rick's Cafe Americain.  The cafe with a view of the airport, which was a perfect spot for anyone trying to escape the Nazis and the Vichy collaborators.  Walk through the doors and one enters a large restaurant, with its white walls and round arches, crammed with tables of anxious people.  Their collective anxiety focuses on the requisite papers needed for the flight to Lisbon and then on to America.   The multitude of tables surround a pianist playing tunes, such as Knock on Wood, to lift the guests' spirits.  Waiters, such as Carl, wind their way around the restaurant, serving drinks and food....

But wait, the one thing missing is the food.  Having watched the movie more times than I can count, I can recall only one reference to food.  To set the scene: Captain Louis Renault just sat down at a table with Major Heinrich Strasser and his aide Colonel Heinz.  Major Strasser orders a bottle of champaign and a tin of caviar.  Captain Renault suggests a bottle of Veuve Cliquot 26.  That's it.  

Not every guest could have ordered caviar.  After all, many did not have enough to pay for the exit visas needed to get to Lisbon.  This leaves the question of what would they have eaten.  This question leads to an even more basic one: what would Ricks Cafe Americain have had on its menu.  The cafe's menu is the one aspect of the restaurant that the writers and directors did not explore, probably because it did not have any meaningful relationship to the telling of the story.  

So, for the January Wine Club, we are going to explore what could have been the menu at Rick's Cafe Americain.  One of my friends gave me, The Casablanca Cookbook, which has recipes for wining and dining at Ricks.  These recipes loosely draw from Moroccan-inspired recipes, with character's names, like Ugarte's Tangy Chicken Wings and Emil Chickpea Fritters.  This book provides a great start, but we need to delve a little further to create the menu.

Coriander Shrimp Kebabs and Ground Lamb Kebabs
Served over Coucous Morocain

Kebabs are a significant part of many Mediterranean cuisines.  Morocco is no exception, with kebabs reaching the Moroccan area during the height of the Ottoman Empire.  For our first course, everyone will have a choice of two skewers of Coriander Shrimp Kebabs or Ground Lamb Kebabs (or a combination of both).  The kebabs will be served over Moroccan style couscous.

Chicken Tangine with Preserved Lemons and Olives, 
Served with Carrots with Cumin and Garlic

The tangine is the emblematic dish of North African cuisine.  When it comes to Moroccan cuisine in particular, one of the most popular dishes is Tangine Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid.  This dish features bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs that are marinated with spices and then cooked until very tender.  The chicken is then served with preserved lemons and green olives.  If you don't like olives (and I know a couple of you do not), don't worry -- I will add the olives at the end, thereby enabling me to omit them from your serving.  This tangine will be served with a side of Carrots with Cumin and Garlic. 

Apricot Pistachio Cake

Agriculture in Morocco encompasses a wide variety of ingredients.  For the final course, we will serve a cake that combines two fairly prominent ingredients -- apricots and pistachios.  Morocco is 7th in the world when it comes to producing of pistachios and 11th when it comes to apricots.  

As always, the menu is subject to change.  If there are any food preferences or dietary restrictions that we have overlooked, please let us know.  We look forward to seeing everyone!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

If someone were to ask me what pasta dish would I order at an Italian restaurant, I would reply "the Bolognese."  A "Bolognese," which is also referred to as a "ragu," is a sauce of chopped meat and vegetables cooked in a liquid, such as water or wine.  The sauce is perhaps the most familiar dish from the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna.  And, if it is done right, the Bolognese is perhaps one of the best pasta sauces ever created, not only in Italy, but perhaps the entire world (at least in my humble opinion).  

Speaking of origins, the earliest documented recipe for a Bolognese dates back to the late 1700s.   Lynn Rossetto Kasper writes in her book, The Splendid Table, that Alberto Alvisi, a cook to the Cardinal of Imola, made a sauce that he called "ragu for maccheroni."  The first published recipe was written by Pellegrino Artusi in his 1891 cookbook, La Scienza in Cucina e L'Arte di Mangiare Bene ("The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well").  The recipe called for veal fillets, butter, onions and carrots.  The ingredients were to be minced finely, cooked in the butter, and then covered with a broth.   Artusi also suggested adding mushrooms to improve the taste, as well as cream to make a smoother sauce.  

A lot of time has passed since Artusi published his recipe.  With time, comes change.  At some point over the years, decades and centuries, cooks began to use other proteins, such as beef and pork.   They also substituted water or wine for the broth.  The changes went beyond mere substitutions. Cooks decided to add other ingredients, such as tomato paste.  Many of these changes were probably brought about by necessity, such as the availability of cost of beef.  Other changes were probably made to alter the taste, such as the use of wine over broth.  In the end, these changes produced a sauce made with minced meat, onions, carrots, celery and tomato paste, all of which are cooked in a liquid of the cook's choice.  

One final note about this recipe.  Traditionally, a Bolognese is served with Tagliatelle pasta, which is the traditional type of pasta in Emilia-Romagna.  Tagliatelle is a long, flat pasta.  The flatness of the pasta is the key.  You want a surface that can serve as a canvas for the sauce.  Tagliatelle can be a little hard to find, especially if you do not have an Italian store near you.  If you can't find that pasta, you can use Fettuccine or even Pappardelle.  Just avoid the dried pasta.  A Bolognese should only grace fresh pasta.   It definitely costs more to buy fresh pasta.  However, trust me.  It is definitely worth the cost.  

Recipe from Oscar Farinetti, How to Eataly at pg. 56
Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 small carrot, minced
1 rib celery, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
4 ounces ground veal
4 ounces ground pork
4 ounces ground beef
Fine sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken or beef stock
Coarse sea salt for pasta cooking water
Fresh tagliatelle
Grated grana cheese, for serving

1.  In a heavy Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil.  Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes more.

2.  Crumble the veal, pork and beef into the pot.  Season with fine sea salt.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat has rendered most of its fat and is just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Spoon out and discard some of the rendered fat, but leave enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  (This will depend upon the meat that you are using - there may not be an excessive amount of fat.)

3.  Add the wine and increase the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated, about 6 minutes.

4.  Decrease the heat to low, add the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the stock and adjust the heat if necessary to reach a gentle simmer.  Simmer until the stock has reduced but the sauce is still moist, about 45 minutes longer.  Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning if necessary and remove from the heat.

5.  Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.  When the water is boiling, salt it with coarse salt and add the pasta.  Cook until the pasta rises to the surface of the water.  

6.  Smear a small amount of the sauce on the bottom of a warmed pasta serving bowl. 

7.  When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, then transfer it immediately to the serving bowl.  Top with the remaining sauce and toss vigorously to combine.  Serve immediately with grated cheese on the table.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Turkey with Turnip and Pear

My CSA challenge has really been a challenge.  I have to say that the true challenge came when I was confronted with turnips ... and turnips ... and turnips.  They came with every shipment.  I had more turnips than I knew what to do with.  The reason for my situation came not only due to the number of turnips, but also from the fact that I have rarely cooked with the root vegetable.  

Sure, I could have boiled them, pureed them into a smooth nothingness, and, voila, an alternative to mashed potatoes or with mashed potatoes.  And only that.  I have never cooked with turnips.  So I needed to come up with another use for them.   So, I did what I often do and that is to consult the Internet.  I searched for various recipes for turnips. There a lot of recipes, as there are for pretty much any ingredient.  However, there was one recipe that caught my eye, because it called for a combination of ingredients which appealed to my stomach ... turnips and pears.  The recipe was from Bon Appetit, but I decided to give it my own twist.

The twist involved combining the turnips and pears with turkey, which works on so many levels. Turkey is a very good protein to work with because its its flavor is complementary to so many fruits, vegetables and starches.  This goes well beyond cranberries and potatoes.  Both the turnips and the pears paired very well with the turkey.  For this dish, I used a turkey thigh, rather than the breast or cutlets.  The reason is the preparation.  Given the top of the stove treatment, which involves higher heat over a shorter period of time, the added fat content in the turkey thighs helped to keep the meat moist.

This was a very good dish for turnips, and a great alternative to simply mashing them like potatoes.  While my plating still needs some work, this is the type of dish that I think could look fancy enough to appear on restaurant menus.  

Adapted from recipe by Bon Appetit
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 turkey thigh, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into
     four even sized pieces
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 medium pear, peeled, cored and chopped
1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspooin fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
1/2 cup salted, roasted macadamia nuts, chopped

1.  Brown the chicken.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.   Season turkey with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, until skin is browned and crisp 10-12 minutes.  Transfer turkey to a plate.

2. Prepare the sauce.  Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in same skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion, pear, turnip and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring ocassionally until pear and turnip are soft and starting to turn golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  Carefully add wine and thyme, then return chicken to skillet, skin side up.  Cook until wine is almost completely evaporated and turkey is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

3.  Complete the dish.  Plate the dish and serve topped with macadamia nuts.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Classic Gremolata

It has been said that, "you can't have a fancy food blog without a recipe that has something topped with gremolata."   While I don't have a fancy food blog, I still felt it was necessary to include a recipe with something with this flavorful topping.  A classic gremolata consists of three ingredients: flat leaf parsley, garlic and lemon zest.  There are other optional ingredients, such as salt and pepper.

The origin of gremolata is lost to history, although it is suggested that the term originates from the French word, gremolade.  Notwithstanding its obscure history, the gremolata has a key place in Italian cuisine.  It is the key accompaniment to Osso Bucco alla Milanese, where it tops a braised veal shank.  Gremolata has also found its way onto other Italian dishes.  Indeed, over time, it seems that Gremolata has become to Italian cuisine what Chimichurri is to Argentine cuisine or a Persillade is to French cuisine.  

The key to a Gremolata, as it is to a Chimichurri or Persillade is to use  the freshest ingredients available.  If that flat leaf parsley looks a little limp, set it aside for another use. If the garlic has been sitting around a little too long, turn it into roast garlic for a different dish.  If you lemons have been sitting in the basket for too long, make lemonade, not gremolata.  

Once you have the freshest ingredients, make the topping right before you plan on serving it.  It only takes about 5 minutes to make and then use it right away.  I used it on a steak that I cooked under a broiler.  The steak was rubbed with complimentary flavors (ground onion, ground garlic, kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper).  If you don't have a steak, you can still use this topping on any number of dishes, from grilled or braised meats such chicken, lamb or pork to grilled fish.  The simplicity of this recipe translates into a flexible condiment that can add a lot of flavor to a wide range of dishes.

If you happen to have left over gremolata, you can use it within a day.   That should be enough inspiration to cook something else.  If you don't use it within a day, the topping will start to go bad because of the wilting of the parsley.

Recipe from The Kitchn
Makes 1/3 cup

1 small bunch of parsley, washed and dried (1 cup loosely packed)
1 clove of garlic, skin removed
2 organic lemons, washed and dried

1.  Prepare the parsley.  Remove the leaves from the parsley until you have enough to make 1 cup when loosely packed.  Chop the parsley until it is nearly finely chopped.  The parsley should be less than 1/2 cup.

2.  Add the garlic.    Use a microplane or fine toothed grater to grate the garlic clove over the parsley.

3.  Add the lemon.  Usingthe same microplane or grater, zest two lemons on top of the garlic.

4.  Finish the chopping.  Continue to chop the parsley, mixing in the garlic and lemon until the parsley is chopped very fine.

5.  Use the gremolata.  Use the gremolata right away.   Serve it on Ossobucco alla Milanese, or any grilled or braised meat dish.   You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mobile Style Oysters

As the chronological archive on the right demonstrates, I have not posted as many recipes this year as I have in previous years.  This is due in part to a very busy schedule, both at work and at home.  It does not mean that I am not cooking or that I am not trying out new recipes.  It just means that those recipes sit in a queue, waiting for me to write a few pithy paragraphs about them.

This recipe -- Mobile Style Oysters -- was one that waited a long time in that queue.  A really long time.  The reason why it waited so long was not necessarily due to my schedule, but the fact that I wanted to make this dish for my very beautiful Angel, Clare.  However, I was unable to do so for days, weeks and months.  The reason is that Clare was pregnant with our little girl.  I was unsure about serving oysters, even when cooked, so I held off making this recipe.  This restraint was very difficult.  Many a night I wanted to buy a half-dozen oysters and make this dish.  I held off, and it was well worth it.

This dish, as its name suggests, heralds from Mobile, Alabama, where local restaurants have a ready supply of oysters from the Gulf of Mexico.  There are at least eight commercial oyster farms in Alabama.  In addition to these farmers, there are local fishermen who harvest the variety of oyster species in the bay, most notably the Eastern Oyster.  Once the harvests reach the shore or the store,  the oysters find their way to restaurants like Bluegill.  The chefs and cooks then grill or broil oysters in their shell filled with a bath of butter, garlic and parmesan cheese.  The end result is  Mobile Style Oysters.

There are two things that make this recipe work.  First, the combination of those three flavors -- garlic, butter, and parmesan -- always work together in a delicious harmony.  This is true no matter the dish.  Nevertheless, what makes the harmony work in this case is that it does not drown out the star ... the oysters.  The briny flavor of the oysters are still able to stand out, surrounded by the supporting elements.

The other thing that works with this recipe is that the oysters are cooked just enough.  Often times, oysters can be overcooked, which takes such a beautiful ingredient and turns it into trash.  The five minutes under the broiler (which I did) or on the grill provides just enough heat and cooking time to give the bivalves the opaqueness one expects from cooked seafood without turning them into a chewy mess.

It was definitely worth the wait.  Both Clare and I loved these oysters, almost as much as eating them raw.  

Recipe from Saveur
Serves 4

12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons of fresh parsely, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
24 medium oysters, shucked and left in bottom shell
Crusty bread, for serving.

1.  Prepare the grill or stove.  Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high.  Alternatively arrange an oven rack 6 inches from the heating element and heat the oven to broil.

2.  Prepare the topping.  Combine the butter, Parmesan, parsley, chile flakes, garlic, shallots, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Season with Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture over each oyster.

3.  Grill or broil the oysters.  Grill or broil the oysters until the edges of the oysters begin to curl, about 5 minutes.  Serve with the bread.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Iowa Loose Meat Sandwiches

Recently, I decided to make Iowa Loose Meat Sandwiches for my family.  I found the recipe in one of my most recent cookbook purchases, Cook's Country Eats Local.  The recipe seemed unbelievably simple. Ground meat, onion, mustard, water, salt and pepper.  Yet, the cookbook authors guaranteed a lot of taste.  

In Iowa, the loose meat sandwiches are known as "Maid-Rite" sandwiches, named after the chain of restaurants, that has been proudly serving the sandwiches since 1926.  I've never set foot in a Maid Rite restaurant, so I have nothing to compare the Cook's Country recipe to an authentic loose meat sandwich.  Nevertheless, the Cooks Country recipe boasted about being a simplified version of what seemed like a fairly simple sandwich.  Given my hectic schedule at work and home, simple seemed like a very good selling point.

To be sure, the recipe took very little time to make.  All of the ingredients go into the pan and you cook until the meat is done.  It took about 5 minutes, plus another couple of minutes to "prepare" the buns.  I prepared the sandwiches as directed and then served them.

The end result was as advertised: the sandwiches were very tasty.  The cooking of onions and mustard with the meat provide additional flavors just beyond beef.  Everyone enjoyed these sandwiches and, given the simplicity of the recipe, this is a good dish for people who have very little time to cook ... or make their way to Iowa to buy one.

Recipe from Cook's Country Eats Local, pg. 175
Serves 4

1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon yellow mustard, plus extra for serving
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 hamburger buns
Sliced pickles

1.  Cook the meat.   Combine beef, water, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a 10 inch skillet.  Bring to simmer over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spoon.  Reduce heat to medium low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in onion, cover, and remove from heat, keep warm while preparing buns.

2.  Finish the dish.  Spread extra mustard on buns, then using slotted spoon, mound beef mixture on top.  Cap with pickles and bun tops.  Serve.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Ginger, Cardamom and Honey

If one were collecting cardinal rules of cooking, my suggestion would be that "cardamom makes just about everything better."  Not butter.  Not bacon.  But cardamom.  Any type of cardamom: black, green or Madagascar.  If anyone were to question this cardinal rule, then my response would be to direct him or her to this recipe: Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Ginger, Cardamom and Honey.

Before this recipe, I did not like sweet potatoes.  If given the option between regular fries and sweet potato fries, I would choose the former over the latter.  If my only option was sweet potato fries, I would grimace and look for the nearest bottle of hot sauce to mask the taste of the sweet potatoes.  If presented with the choice of mashed sweet potatoes, that would a choice I would avoid.  The bottom line: I would rather have an empty space on my plate.  

All of that changed with this one recipe.  We had a couple of large sweet potatoes, which were given to us as part of our CSA share.  The sweet potatoes sat on our counter, and in our refrigerator, for a while as I pondered what I would do with them.  Eventually, I had to confront them and prepare them in some manner.  I once again went to the Internet to find some recipe that would intrigue me.  It did not take long before a recipe caught my eye.  The eye-catching feature of this recipe was the word "cardamom."  

I am no stranger to cardamom.  There are over a dozen recipes on this blog that feature the spice, but I used the spice to cook dishes with ingredients that I loved to eat.  The problem with using cardamom is its price.  It is very expensive, second only to saffron.  The price is worth it, because the warm, pungent aromas of the cardamom pod and the unique flavors that it contributes to the dish are without measure.

This recipe marks the first time that I used cardamom to prepare a dish with an ingredient that, as I mentioned above, I did not like to eat.   Now, I love sweet potatoes ... at least with cardamom.

Recipe from Chowhound
Serves 4

2 pounds of sweet potatoes
8 ounces of russet potatoes
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 cup peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1.  Prepare the steamer.  Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Set a steamer basket inside and set to low so the water is simmering.

2.  Prepare the potatoes.  Peel and cut the sweet potatoes and russet potatoes into large dice.  Place them into a steamer and cover with a tight lid.   Steam until fork tender, about 20 minutes.    Meanwhile, place the remaining measured ingredients into a small saucepan over low heat, season with pepper and stir until the butter and honey have melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

3.  Finish the dish.  When the potatoes are ready, transfer them to a large bowl and drizzle with the butter mixture.  Mash with a potato masher until you get the desired consistency.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  


Monday, November 9, 2015

South Carolina Shrimp Burgers

Almost any protein can be made into a burger.  Beef may reign supreme, but lamb and turkey have made their inroads. However, some of the best burgers are those made with fish.  In the past, I have prepare dishes such as Salmon Burgers and Rockfish Burgers, both of which were paired with variations of guacamole.  I actually prefer those types of burgers over a beef burger (but not a lamb burger).  

Given the myriad of possibilities when it comes to proteins and burgers, I am always on the lookout for something new and different.  A few months back, my beautiful wife, Clare, and I -- along with our kids -- went to the Library of Congress' book festival  At that festival, I picked up the Cook's Country Eats Local.  It was a great purchase, because the book has all sorts of interesting recipes from around the country, including one for South Carolina Shrimp Burgers.

The connection between South Carolina and shrimp is an obvious one, especially for a food lover such as myself.  There is a long history of shrimping in the low country, with generation after generation plying the waters catching one of the three types of shrimp that thrive in the area.  Each type corresponds to a color.  There is the brown shrimp or Farfantepenaeus Aztecus.  There is the white shrimp or Litopenaues Setiferus.  And there is the pink shrimp or Litopenaue Duorarum.  Three types of shrimp, that all basically taste the same. 

The true difference in shrimp comes from using fresh shrimp and frozen shrimp.  Unless you live in the low country, or by a body of water where shrimpers ply their trade, you are most likely eating frozen shrimp.  This is even true if you buy them at the seafood counter of your local grocery store. (The shrimp arrive at the store frozen, but the store's seafood staff takes care of that whole defrosting thing.)  While fresh shrimp are definitely the best, you can use frozen shrimp provided that those shrimp did not have to travel half of the globe to make it to your local supermarket.  In other words, look for shrimp that is as "local" as you can get.  If you are in a city such as Charleston, South Carolina, or Chicago, Illinois, you are better off if your shrimp is from the United States, as opposed to Thailand or Ecuador.  While it may cost more to buy shrimp harvested in the United States, you are at least supporting local fishermen and shrimpers, which is a good thing.  

The authors of the Cook's Country book also recommend that you should use "untreated shrimp," that is, shrimp that does not have added sodium or preservatives, such as sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP).  This would pretty much rule out most, if not all, of the shrimp that you find in the freezer section of your grocery store.  Once the freezer section declared off limits, you are left with the seafood counter, where you can buy some seemingly-fresh-but-previously-frozen shrimp for this burger recipe. You will not regret it.

In the end, this is a great recipe. I have already made these shrimp burgers for family and friends.  The recipe is quickly becoming a family favorite, which ensures it will be made again and again.  Too bad we don't live closer to the shore where we could get our shrimp right off of the boat.  

Recipe from Cook's Country Eats Local, pages 114-115
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the burgers):
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 1/4 pounds of large shrimp (26/30 count),
     peeled, deveined, and tails removed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 scallions, chopped fine
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
4 hamburger buns
4 leaves Bibb lettuce

Ingredients (for the tartar sauce):
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickles
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.  Make the tartar sauce.   Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

2.  Begin making the burgers. Pulse the panko crumbs until finely ground, about 15 pulses, transfer to a shallow dish.  Place one-third of shrimp (1 cup), mayonnaise, pepper, salt, and cayenne in the now-empty and pulse until shrimp are finely chopped, about 8 pulses.  Add remaining two-third of shrimp (2 cups) to shrimp mixture in processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 4 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Transfer shrimp mixture to a bowl and stir in the scallions. 

3.  Make the patties.  Divide shrimp mixture into four 3/4 inch thick patties (about 1/2 cup each).  Working with 1 patty at a time, dredge both sides of batties in panko, pressing lightly to adhere, and transfer to plate. 

4.  Cook the burgers.  Heat oil in 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Place patties in skillet and cook until golden brown on first side, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Carefully flip  and continue to cook until the shrimo registers 140 to 145 degrees and second side is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer.  Transfer burgers to paper towel-lined plate and let drain, about 30 seconds each side.  Spread tartar sauce on bun bottoms, then place burgers on top.  Cover with lettuce and bun tops.  Serve.

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