Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daring Cooks June: Teriyaki Chicken Burgers with Pineapple & Macadamia Nut Butter

 I have been a fan of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies for as long as I can remember... I particularly love them when made with salted roasted macadamias, since the combination of salty toasty nuts and sweet white chocolate is pretty difficult to beat.

I'm also a big fan of the macadamia nut pie -- which I fell in love with in 1998 when a business associate mailed one to me as a Christmas gift. Since I'm a nice person, I immediately cracked open the package and shared the bounty with my colleagues -- but soon regretted the decision. Let's put it this way, the word "luscious" doesn't even begin to describe that deliciously salty sweet pie.  In fact, I've been conspiring to make a pilgrimage to Hawaii to pay homage to the macadamia nut ever since.

It probably goes without saying that if someone challenged me to make something delicious with macadamia nuts, I'd be most likely to think of a sweet application for them.  But, those Daring Cooks... they're sly. Margie of More Please  (who also happens to be a local food blogger -- yay!!) and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies chose to challenge all of the Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and then use the nut butter in a SAVORY recipe.

Hmm. I'll admit I had to think about this one for a moment.
It's not that I've never eaten a savory recipe made with nut butter.  After all, there's nothing quite like a mole made with almond butter or an Asian noodle dish made with peanut sauce.  But, I wanted to do something a little different. And less... well... expected.

So, I enlisted my usual compadre in crime, Peef, to help me think of a great savory application for nut butter. Our two brains ground around on the topic for quite some time (pun intended), and we finally decided on a plan.

The credit for the burger concept belongs to Peef, who is always coming up with new and wonderful ways to combine meat and bread. He may have been slightly inspired by the Barrie burger, which is served at a little local burger joint called AJ Bombers (if you're on twitter, you've probably heard of them).  The Barrie burger consists of a cheeseburger topped with bacon and... peanut butter. Actually a fairly brilliant combination, master-minded by @KateBarrie, and enjoyed by many in the humble city of Milwaukee.

But, we're not complete copy-catters (though you might remain unconvinced if you look back in our archives at the Stendler breakfast burrito or the Buttafuoco tomato sandwich  -- both Comet Cafe knock-offs).  And I was pretty determined to do something wonderful with macadamia nut butter.  So, we settled on that classic combination -- teriyaki chicken and pineapple.  To take the challenge truly over the top, we also added a Daring Baker's challenge -- homemade brioche buns.
While the dough for the burger buns was rising, we put our heads together and came up with a nearly perfect marinade for the chicken.  A bit of pineapple juice, some soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a whisper of brown rice vinegar.  Taste and... perfect.

We mixed the chicken with the pineapple mixture and put everything aside to marinate in the fridge.  In the meantime, we took about a cup of roasted salted macadamia nuts (this seems to be the only way we can find them here in Wisconsin), and made our nut butter. We used about one cup of macadamia nuts, which produced approximately 1/2 cup of butter.
Thirty seconds in the food processor was all it took to create a creamy delicious butter. And, of course, the first thing we did was to stick our fingers into the bowl to get a sample.  Smooth, creamy, nutty, slightly salty... dare I say buttery?

The thing about macadamia nut butter is that it's scarily addicting. In fact, the both of us stopped just short of simply taking out a couple of spoons and finishing up the batch right then and there. But, we refrained. And, as painful as it was, our burgers were far better for it.

We distracted ourselves by finishing up the brioche rolls. Gorgeous, aren't they?  (seriously, you must try this recipe at least once... it was particularly perfect with these burgers)

After the chicken had marinated for a couple of hours, we hauled out the KitchenAid meat grinder attachment that we got from my parents for Christmas and slopped the chicken bits right into it, along with about one-fourth of a large red bell pepper (which added both color and flavor).

We probably should have drained off more of the marinade, since the resulting ground meat was a little bit damp.  But, we solved that problem by adding a few crushed saltine crackers to the mix.  We formed the chicken into patties and put them on a plate in the refrigerator to give them a bit more time to firm up before we grilled them, along with a few slices of pineapple.
And then it was time to feast...
A homemade hamburger bun, a slathering of fresh macadamia nut butter, a perfectly grilled teriyaki burger, and a slice of grilled pineapple -- there's something for everyone on this burger. The freshly ground meat was tender, the burger was juicy, and the flavors were outstanding. A little bit of sweet, a little bit of salty... and all kinds of great synergy between the pineapple, red peppers, macadamia nuts, and soy sauce.
Seriously one of the best burgers we've had in a very long time.  And totally worth every last bit of effort. Especially that 30 seconds we spent on the nut butter. *wink*

Light Brioche Buns
Teriyaki Chicken Burgers with Pineapple & Macadamia Nut Butter

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

And don't forget to check out other Daring Cooks' Challenges!  Lots of creative folks out there whipping up nut butter.

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  1. Oh what a beautiful take on this month's challenge! Absolutely loving this combo!

  2. Mmmm, beautiful AND delicious. Those brioche rolls are just the best thing ever, aren't they?

  3. The peanut butter topped burger is big here in MN too so I can see that this would be a hit as well.

  4. Holy deliciousness. I love macadamia nuts, but almost never have them, so this burger sounds so decadent and scrumptious... And the homemade brioche buns are just, so to speak, the icing on the cake.

    And not that it has anything to do with the actual challenge, but I have never heard of macadamia pie before, and am not going to have to go searching for it!! :)

    Awesome job on the challenge.

  5. Those buns really do look good! The burgers and nut butter too! I think you guys outdid yourselves here!

  6. MMMMmmmm. I just bought some macadamia nuts (and then have had the Turtles song I'm Chief Kamanawanalea(We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts) stuck in my head ever since. I had to go and download it in hopes to get it out of my brain.), and now am tempted to use them for this awesome application instead of for the vegan probiotic cheese I was going to do.

    But my food pro is not very strong, methinks. I tried to make a nut butter in it once or twice, and it did not do the job. I'll have to earmark this one for after my VitaMix fund jar fills up!!!

  7. Wow! These look delicious. I initially would never think macadamia butter would go with burgers, but after seeing your post I'm intrigued. Good job!

  8. Rebecca - Not to encourage you to depart from your vegan cheese project... but I'm pretty sure your food pro would work on macadamia nuts. They're the softest nut I've ever made into butter... lots of good oils in there. In fact, as you can see from the picture, the nut butter itself is thinner than most. And yummier too :)

  9. In fact your pilgrimage should be to Australia where macadamia are indigenous not Hawaii. Everything about your burger is superb the Brioche bun the patties and the pineapple. The photos are lovely and the overall flavour is astounding. Cheers from the Audax in Sydney Australia.

  10. I've made macadamia nut pie...and yeah. It's amazing.

    These burgers look incredibly awesome! I love the idea of macadamia nut sauce. Next time I get my hands on some...I'll be all over this.

  11. These burgers looks delicious. And nice work on the buns. Wow. You guys are good. : )

  12. Sarah - considering our oven died not long after those delicious buns came out of the oven, I think it was more luck than anything! :)

  13. WOW! Those buns look great! I have never made homemade buns and think it would be worth it. And you ground your own chicken? Holy cra*! Awesome job!!!!!

  14. That is a sophisticated bunful of yum. GREG

  15. Let me repeat - Teriyaki Chicken Burgers with Pineapple & Macadamia Nut Butter? For real, Lo? Holy heck balls. Yes, to all of it. DROOL.

  16. Great idea. Very Hawaiian. Maybe you should have added a slice or two of fried Spam? ;-)

    Have you ever seen the White-Castle-style burger recipe on My Tasty Treasures? That one has the peanut butter IN the burgers instead of on top. I'm a little scared to try that, but those who have say it's wonderful.

  17. Amy - You crack me up. We <3 you.

    Rachel - Haven't seen it, but I'm intrigued.
    I was actually pleasantly surprised by the Barrie burger. I like peanut butter, but am not the biggest fan -- so I wasn't really expecting much.

  18. Rachel - Lo beat me to it, but I have to say it's a must try! The peanut butter really works well with the burger. I, however can eat any nut butter straight from a spoon (or finger), so I might have a biased view on these flavors together.

  19. These look amazing, as I am literally wiping the drool off my keyboard. I think I may have just found what I want to make for dinner tonight!

  20. Ooo, now that is something I should have thought of!! Macadamia butter on a delicious burger.. Mmm, I am soooo gonna make that very very soon!

  21. You really did a fabulous job with this challenge. I am a newcomer to your blog, so I spent some time browsing through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did. I really like the food you feature and will be back often to see more of your grat recipes. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Maryo

  22. Very cool and original idea. They sound fantastic!

  23. Wow, everything homemade...even the buns...awesome, what a nice meal. Love the pictures :-)

  24. savory recipe made with nut butter is new to me too! This sounds deliciously interesting! :) Looks great. And the rolls are perfect!

    Thanks for stopping by my "place"! ;)

  25. I love what you did with the challenge! The burgers & buns look flippin' fabulous. I have a tendency to avoid chicken burgers, but you've convinced me to give it a go with your teriyaki marinade and macadamia nut butter topping. Those brioche buns were pretty convincing also!

  26. Mouth-watering!!!!!!!!!!!! This is all I can tell now.. now I have to go eat something.. this made me hungry:)

  27. Wow, your burger sounds fabulous. I've never thought of making mac nut butter and will have to try it. Thanks for the awesome recipe!


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