I haven’t celebrated Christmas without snow since the holiday heat wave of ’94. This year, I barely noticed there wasn’t snow covering the bleak brown midwestern landscape for most of December– I assumed Mother Nature would take care of this aesthetic element of Christmas before the big day arrived.
But then, about two days before Christmas, I realized “White Christmas” had crept into my head, and it seemed to be spinning through my mind on repeat louder and louder as every snowless hour passed. I became panic-stricken, and braced myself as I checked the forecast for the next few days. “Sunny, high of 38.” I sighed as I realized it wouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t get a white Christmas this year, but I decided–if we couldn’t have snow, we could at least bring back summer with a meal of burgers and microbrews! (That’s some weird train of thought, right?)
The meal lifted my mood considerably. And while “White Christmas” is still running through my head at least once every few hours (darn you, Bing Crosby), I realized far worse things could have spoiled a cherished day. A Christmas without snow is, well, still Christmas…just without snow.
This recipe, adapted from Heavy Table, is a recreation of the Harvest Moon Wild Rice burgers served at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota. This is one of my favorite summertime meals–a meal that’s found, oddly enough, in a city with some of the truest, whitest winters I have ever experienced.
Harvest Moon Wild Rice Burgers Recipe
Makes 8 burgers
1 cup wild rice, uncooked
3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
4 eggs, whisked
2 rounded teaspoons all-purpose seasoning (should include ingredients similar to salt, onion, garlic, paprika, sugar, black pepper, curry powder, turmeric)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
oil to brush on the griddle
8 multi-grain hamburger buns, split
garlic mayonnaise (store-bought or homemade)
roma tomatoes, sliced
red onions, sliced
Prepare the wild rice according to the instructions on the bag or box, substituting the vegetable stock for cooking water. When you’re to make the burgers, first prepare the buns and burger toppings. Split the buns, spread a layer of garlic mayonnaise on the top half of the bun, then place a pinch or two of sprouts and two slices of tomato on top of the garlic mayonnaise. Lay out the bottoms of the buns on a serving tray.
Make the patties. In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 eggs, seasoning, and olive oil. With a rubber spatula, mix in the cheddar cheese until combined. Mix in the cooked and cooled wild rice, then the crushed crackers.
Scoop out a ½ cup of the wild rice mixture, form it into a patty, and place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. The patties are very crumbly and delicate at this stage. Repeat for remaining 7 patties.
Brush a cast-iron griddle with oil, then heat to medium. Using a pancake turner, carefully place each patty on the griddle and cook for 3 minutes. Turn each patty carefully with the pancake turner. Cover each patty with a slice of cheddar cheese, and then cover with a lid (or close the cover of the grill) to melt the cheese. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Remove patties from heat and slide each on the bottom half of the whole grain bun. Serve with a cold beverage. Welcome to summer.