Russian Borscht Burgers with Caviar Creme Fraiche, Grilled Beets and Pickled Cucumber
For the Crème Fraiche:
2 cups crème fraiche
6 Tablespoons American Lake Sturgeon or Hackleback Sturgeon Caviar
6 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
For the Burgers:
3 lbs boneless short ribs, ground by butcher into hamburger style meat
1 cup finely chopped sweet red onion
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Quick Pickled Cucumber:
2 large sweet red onions
2 large English “seedless” cucumbers
¼ cup sherry vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 t fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Beets:
2 medium red beets
2 medium golden beet
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil spray
To Finish the Burgers:
Fine sea salt for seasoning the burgers before cooking
6 large Challa or Brioche hamburger buns
3 cups lightly packed baby arugula
1. FOR THE CRÈME FRAICHE: Place the crème fraiche into a small mixing bowl and add the caviar and chives. Whisk to combine, cover and set aside until ready to serve.
2. FOR THE BURGERS: NOTE: KEEP THE MEAT VERY COLD AT ALL TIMES!!! Spread the meat out on a cold tray and season it with the chopped red onion, 2 tsp. fine sea salt and 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Use your hands to gently mix the meat and seasonings until evenly combined. Divide the meat into six 8 ounce portions and, using wet hands, form them into six 4-5″ diameter patties.
3. THE QUICK PICKLE: Thinly slice or shave the red onion and place into a large mixing bowl. Thinly slice the cucumber and place it into bowl with the onion. In a small bowl, combine the sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, sugar and pepper and whisk to combine and dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the mixture over the onions and cucumbers and toss to combine evenly. Cover and set aside until ready to serve (make sure as much of the onion and cucumber are submerged in the liquid as possible – stir every 5-10 minutes).
4. GRILL THE BEETS: Heat the grill to medium high heat. Peel the beets and slic them ¼-1/3″ thick. Season both sides with the salt and pepper and spray with the canola oil spray. Grill for 3-5 minutes per side, turning once, or until beets are softened and you have nice grill marks (be careful – they burn easily!!). Remove to a clean plate.
5. GRILL THE BUNS AND BURGERS: Heat the grill to medium high heat (400-450 degrees. Clean the grill with a wire brush and lightly oil the grates with some of the oil. Lightly oil both sides of each burger. Season both sides with the fine sea salt. Place the buns, cut sides down onto the grill and lightly toast and warm them (1-3 minutes) — be careful not to burn them. Remove them to serving plates or a platter, cut sides up.
6. Place the burgers onto the hot grill and grill, turning once for about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare burgers. Grill a little longer on each side for more well done burgers. While the burgers cook, spread about 2 Tablespoons of the crème fraiche onto each cut side of the buns (top and bottom). Cover each bottom bun evenly with rounds of the pickled cucumber and mound some of the onion on top of the cucumber. When the burgers are done, remove them from the grill to the onion topped bottom buns. Top the burgers with one slice of grilled red beet and one slice of grilled yellow beet. Place the arugula into a medium mixing bowl and add 3 Tablespons of the Caviar Crème Fraiche. Use your hands to toss the arugula, coating it very lightly with the crème fraiche. Top the beets with ½ of the arugula and then with the top buns. SERVE and ENJOY!!! Serves 6