Puerto Rican Piquant Chicken Burger
When considering America’s best local burgers, let us not overlook the delightful American Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. If you’re thinking rice and beans, visualize, as well, the smoky mouth-watering aroma of coconut and cilantro infused chicken burgers on the grill. Imagine, furthermore, a sweet and tart pineapple, mango and pumpkin seed topping.
Living in Bayamon, Puerto Rico for a year as an exchange teacher, I became enamored of the fresh tropical fruits and vegetables I ate every day. Fortunately, I don’t have to live with just these memories, as these delights are available here on the mainland. Even though I now make them here, they are always reminiscent of the popular outdoor barbecue parties and fragrances permeating the air of a Caribbean fresh produce market.
For the relish:
1 cup pineapple cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3/4 cup mango cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3 T jicama cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 T pumpkins seeds, toasted and chopped
1 T parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T sherry vinegar
1 T Lyles’s Golden Syrup
1 t salt
For the burger:
2 1/2 lbs. boned and skinned chicken breast
3 T coconut unsweetened milk–thick cream from top of opened can. (Do not mix contents of can.)
2 T shopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T olive oil, plus extra for brushing burgers
2 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
6 ciabatta rolls sliced in half
6 leaves butterhead or bibb lettuce
6 tomato slices
6 T unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
Mix pineapple, mango, jicama, pumpkin seeds, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Lyle’s Golden Syrup and salt. Refrigerate until needed.
Prepare grill to medium high heat.
Pulse chicken in a food processor to a coarse chop. Transfer to a large bowl and mix together gently with coconut milk, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Form into six burgers and chill 1/2 hour to 1 hour. Brush with olive oil on both sides and grill 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through and golden.
Brush the roll halves lightly with olive oil and grill lightly. Assemble each burger by placing a lettuce leaf on each bottom half, then a tomato slice, a burger, topped with 2 tablespoons of the relish, 1 tablespoon of toasted coconut and the top half of each bun. Serve.