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~ Chicken, Cheddar and Chimichurri Veggie Patties ~

IMG_0602This time of year, a lot of people are looking to cut back on carbs, increase lo-fat protein and add a lot of vegetables to their diet.  I know because a lot of recipe requests are coming across my desk.  The first time I ate a chicken patty that I liked (I tend to refer to burger-type thingies as patties when they are cooked in a skillet and burgers when they are cooked on the grill), it was at my friend Kathy's house.  Hers were Asian (as is she) and she served them with egg-drop soup.  I asked her what her secret was, and, it was: "to pulverize chicken thigh meat, which is moister and more flavorful than breast meat, with a bit of the fat left on it, in a Robot Coupe".

Magimix3A bit about Robot Coupe:  Robot Coupe was a 1960's French company that manufactured food processors for the catering industry.  Pierre Verdun, a catering company salesman, had noticed the large amount of time his customers spent chopping, shredding and mixing. They began producing a simple but efficient electric machine that turned a time-consuming chore into a quick task: a bowl with a revolving blade in the base.  In 1973, Carl Sontheimer introduced a similar machine, the Magimix 1800 by Robot Coupe, which became America's first domestic food processor.  In 1977, Mr. Sontheimer contracted with a Japanese company to begin production of new models, under the Cuisinart name in 1980, immediately after his contract with Robot Coupe ran out.

Chimichurri was made for steak, but, it tastes great on chicken!

IMG_0105Chimichurri was made for steak: Back in the 16th Century there was a large influx of cattle into Argentina from Spain, which quickly made beef their country's main source of protein.  The Argentinean cowboys, or gauchos, who herded the cattle, came up with this flavorful, rustic blend of native herbs, spices and oil to top their cowboy-cooked steaks. Their bold, bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian pesto (only made with parsley and/or cilantro, oregano, garlic and pepper), is super-easy to make.

Chimichurri works well as a marinade for tough cuts of beef like flank or skirt steak, and, it's delicious atop fish or vegetables too -- steamed cauliflower, grilled sweet corn, fresh or roasted tomatoes, etc.  Recipes for it vary and every cook tunes the proportions to suit themselves.  The more I dabbled in coming up with my own recipe for it, the more uses I discovered for it!

IMG_0220I got a craving for chimichurri during the week, so, I made some.

The first thing we ate it on were these ~ Steak, Habanero Cheddar & Chimichurri Sliders ~. The recipe is in Categories 1, 2, 13 or 17.  The next day, I used some of the leftover, prepped ingredients to make a great ~ Steak, Peppers, Cheddar & Chimichurri Omelette ~, which we ate as a main course for dinner with a nice bottle of red wine.  You can find that recipe in  IMG_0353Categories, 3, 9 or 13.  Tonight, I'm using the last of this flavor-packed, pretty green sauce to top these pan-fried chicken patties.  To get my recipe for ~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~, just click into Categories 8, 10, 13, 14 or 20.  There's more good news:

A little of this sauce goes a long way, and, the nice part is, because it's packed in olive oil, it keeps nicely for a week in the refrigerator, and, gets better tasting by the day!

When does a 'burger turn into a patty?  Whats the difference between a patty and a cake?

IMG_0577The word 'burger is carnivorous American slang for the "hamburger", which is made of ground beef. Herbivores (vegetarians and vegans) have non-meat concoctions which they call 'burgers, and, while I have no ax to grind with them, past that mention, I have no more to say about that. To the average American, "burger", implies a disc of ground meat placed on a round roll.

Burger?  Patty?  Cake?  Aren't they all the same?  In my opinion, it depends a lot upon where  you grew up, but, in my neck of the woods, when it comes to this type of culinary trivia, folks don't play patty-cake.  A "burger" is ground meat (beef, lamb or pork) or poultry, shaped into a disc, cooked, and placed on a round bun to eat.  A "patty" is a burger that is eaten with a knife and fork, or, placed between two square slices of bread to eat (patty-melt-style). A "cake" refers to burgers and patties made with delicate fish, seafood or vegetables and can be eaten like a burger (on a bun) or a patty (knife and fork), or, served as a side-dish.

IMG_04562 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks leaving little bits of skin in tact

1/4  cup chimichurri sauce

3/4  cup each:  diced green and red bell pepper, and, red onion

3/4  cup chopped cilantro leaves

3/4  cup grated habanero cheddar cheese

1 1/2  cups restaurant-style tortilla chip crumbs (6 ounces)

2  large eggs, lightly-beaten

2  teaspoons sea salt (Note:  Since you're dealing with raw chicken in this recipe, you can't taste for salt, so if this is the first time you're making this recipe, you're going to have to put your trust in me.  That said, this amount of salt is based upon the salt in my chimichurri, the cheddar and the salt in the tortilla chips, so, if you make any substitutions, take that into consideration.)

IMG_0463 IMG_0466 IMG_0472 IMG_0475~Step 1.  In the work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, place 4 ounces of hand-crumbled restaurant-style tortilla chips.  Turn motor on and process to crumbs, about 25-30 seconds.  You will have 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.  Remove from processor and set aside.  Add chicken to work bowl, and, using 25-30 rapid on-off pulses, coarsely grind the chicken.

IMG_0480 IMG_0487 IMG_0493 IMG_0496~Step 2.  Place all of the ingredients, except for the eggs (do not add the eggs at this time), in a large bowl, and, using your hands, thoroughly combine.  Add the eggs and mix again.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the crumbs to absorb moisture.

IMG_0505 IMG_0503~ Step 3. Using a kitchen scale as a measure, divide the chicken mixture into 8, 7-ounce balls and place on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-1 1/2 hours. Refrigeration is important -- it will firm the patties up prior to frying.

IMG_0509 IMG_0530~Step 4.  Heat 1/8" of corn or peanut oil in the bottom of an electric skillet over 350 degrees (medium-high on the stovetop).  I prefer the skillet because you can control the heat perfectly.

IMG_0536 IMG_0521While patties are cold (do not let them come to room temp), gently place four of them into the oil, wait one minute then lower the temperature to 325 degrees, then fry until golden brown on both sides, turning only once, about 6 1/2-7 minutes per side.  Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. IMG_0549Repeat process with the remaining four chicken patties.  

Note:  While all eight will fit in the skillet at the same time, I always do this in two batches because eight cold patties lowers the temperature of the oil too fast and too much, which risks them falling apart before their bottoms can brown.

How to make my Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps for garnish:

IMG_9555 IMG_9564Step 1. Cut 6 corn tortillas into quarters, stack a few at a time on top of each other and slice the quarters into very thin strips.

Add 1/4" corn oil to a 12" skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until wavy lines appear on the surface.

IMG_9575 IMG_9579Step 2. Add all of the tortilla strips to the hot oil in the skillet.  Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes, using a spatula to keep the wispy strips moving around in the oil the entire time. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with a generous grinding of sea salt.

Serve as a snack with your favorite ice cold beer... 

IMG_0593... or use as a garnish on these flavor-packed chicken patties:

IMG_0607Chicken, Cheddar and Chimichurri Veggie Burgers:  Recipe yields 8, 7-ounce chicken patties.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held box grater; food processor; plastic wrap; kitchen scale; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 12" skillet or electric skillet, preferably nonstick; nonstick spatula

IMG_9636Cook's Note:  I serve these Southwestern-style chicken patties atop a puddle of cream corn.  For a vegetarian option, my recipe for ~ Cod Cakes w/Creamed Corn & Crisp Tortilla Wisps ~ can be found in Categories 3, 13, 14, 19 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)


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