Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Recipes: Bitokes a lá Russe with Mornay Sauce (Frensh style hamburgers served with a cheese-cream sauce)

BY: Samuel Parks (June 2011)

Officially introduced to Americans by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle in 1961 with their work Mastering the Art of French Cooking, this burger (served sans buns) has all of the flavors of Provence, but with some uniquely Continental twists.  The introduction of corn meal to the recipe guarantees a well formed and crunchy exterior, while preserving the rich juices of the well seasoned meat.  Served hot and doused with a creative mornay sauce, this dish is guaranteed to please even the pickiest of eaters (just don’t tell them there is buffalo meat in the patty)

(serves approximately 6-8)


1 cup finely minced Vidalia onion (or about 1 large onion)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound ground chuck (preferably a ratio of 80:20)
1 pound ground buffalo or bison (preferably a ratio of 90:10 or higher)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (finely chopped)
3 tablespoons fresh Italian or flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
2 whole eggs
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt-to taste
Freshly ground black pepper-to taste
1 cup flour
½ cup yellow corn meal
1 tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoons Black truffle oil
1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces beef stock
Mornay sauce (recipe follows)


In a large non-stick skillet heat the 3 tbs. of butter over medium heat until melted and filmed over.  Add the minced onion to the pan and cook until tender (but not quite browned).  Removed from skillet and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl combine the ground chuck, buffalo, thyme, parsley, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and room temperature onions.  Using your hands, combine the ingredients until all of the spices and seasonings have been evenly distributed through the meat.  When properly combined with good bread crumbs the mound of meat should jiggle like a large blob of cow flavored Jell-O.

Form the meat into patties approximately 3-4 inches in diameter and approximately ¾ inch thick.  Make sure that the patties are formed well and evenly, as any variations in shape will greatly affect how the patty cooks. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and corn meal.  Ensure that the corn meal is evenly distributed throughout the flour.  Drag the patties through the flour, making sure that each side is lightly coated. 

In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet combine the butter, black truffle oil, and olive oil.  Heat on medium-high to high until the oil is almost smoking.  Immediately add the patties to the oil in a single layer, it may be necessary to use two pans or to cook the meat in batches.  Cook for approximately 5-6 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet and cover with aluminum foil.

Return the skillet to the stove top, turn the temperature setting to high, and add the beef stock to the pan.  Making sure to scrap the sides and bottom of the pan, cook vigoursly for approximately 1-2 minutes, or until reduced by approximately ½.  Pour the reduced pan sauce (or demi-glaze) over the burger patties and let sit covered in aluminum foil for approximately 10 minutes.  This allows the flavors to more fully develop and for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Serve hot and doused with a mornay sauce.

Mornay Sauce


(makes approximately 2 cups of finished sauce)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese
½ cup finely grated gruyere cheese

Salt-to taste
Pepper-to taste
Paprika-to taste
Cayenne-to taste
Fresh Nutmeg-to taste



In a large pot or sauce pan heat the milk and heavy cream with ¼ teaspoon salt until almost boiling (make sure to stir frequently)

While the milk is cooking, in a separate large sauce pan heat the butter on medium-high until fully melted and filmed over.  Immediately add the flour and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes.  Once combined, immediately remove from heat and add the hot milk mixture to the butter and flour, beating vigorously with a whisk.  Cook over medium-high heat for approximately 1 minute. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with a fork.  Drop by drop, mix 1 cup of the hot cream sauce into the eggs.  Once the full cup has been added, continue to add more and more of the cream sauce to the eggs, until the egg mixture has almost reached the same temperature as the sauce itself.  Add the egg mixture to the cream sauce and cook over high for approximately 1 minute, stirring constantly. 

Remove the sauce from the heat, and add the grated/ shaved cheese.  Stir constantly until the cheese has fully melted. 

Season with additional spices to taste.  Serve hot.

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