I grew up in a lovely Northern Minnesota town of Duluth. It is known for events such as Grandma’s Marathon, Blue’s Fest, & The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon (yes, that is a real thing). In the summer, Duluth is a delightful destination for those wishing to escape the heat a bit due to the lake’s “natural air conditioning.” The canal area has a romantic lakewalk, complete with many perfect locations for rock throwing, malt sipping, & lake gawking. The desert Pie à la Mode, a slice of pie topped by a scoop of ice cream, was first invented & named by John Gieriet in Duluth in 1885. Iron Will was filmed in Duluth in 1994 & The Crash Test Dummies (remember “mmm mmm mmm”?!) recorded an album at the Sacred Heart Church in Duluth. Duluth has pumped out some fine musicians, including Bob Dylan (he was born in Duluth), Low, Charlie Parr, & Trampled By Turtles.
Although Duluth will always capture a bit of my heart, I am giddy to report that I have recently sunk my teeth into one of my very favorite Duluth attractions & that is the Harvest Moon Wild Rice Burger from Fitger’s Brewhouse. The Brewhouse is Duluth’s original brewery & it’s been going strong for over 150 years, even throughout Prohibition (they stayed alive by selling other products like candy bars & pop).
This year the Duluth brew pub will produce more than 2,500 barrels of beer in over 100 varieties. Fitger’s Brewhouse & its affiliates—Redstar Lounge, Burrito Union, & Tycoons Alehouse— carry a rotating combination of 20 unique brews, including cask-conditioned ale & award-winning Duluth beers such as Witchtree E.S.B. & Big Boat Oatmeal Stout (my personal fav). The Duluth restaurant’s local food includes beef from its own Scottish Highland cattle—fed on grain leftover from the brewing process—& its stage hosts live music from local & touring entertainers 5+ nights a week. This place is kind of a big deal & it has been one of those places that will always conjure up good memories for me, as I spent many evenings sipping a brew, appreciating local music & shoving my face full of oatmeal stout cake.
I was pretty floored when I stumbled on this recipe from Heavy Table because I’ve been attempting to recreate this wild rice burger since I moved from Duluth in 2009. Although I’ve had my fair share of pleasant burgers, nothing has come close until now. You may not be super familiar with wild rice since it’s a pretty local product, but the roasty, earthly flavors really bring this burger to life. It’s hearty & garlicy (thanks to the garlic mayo), but not a bit heavy. It is still my favorite item to order off the menu (paired with beer battered fries of course) & besides the fries, it’s a pretty sensible choice. All in all, this burger just makes me happy. Food has a powerful way of transporting us back to places we have once been & this burger is no exception.
So there you have it for my “Happy & Healthy” Saturday. If you’re itching for more, make sure you check out these post:
- 1 cup Minnesota hand-harvested, wood-parched wild rice, uncooked
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 3 extra large eggs, whisked
- 2 rounded tsp Jax Seasoning (I made my own version by mixing 1/2 tsp each of salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, sugar, black pepper, curry powder, & turmeric)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup crushed saltine soda crackers
- 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 multi-grain hamburger buns, split
- garlic mayonnaise (I made my own by mixing 1/4 cup mayo with 1 clove of minced garlic & 1 tsp of lemon juice)
- alfalfa sprouts
- roma tomatoes, sliced
- The night before you want to make the burgers, cook the wild rice, substituting vegetable stock for the water. Cool in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 eggs, seasonings, & olive oil. With a rubber spatula, mix in the cheddar cheese until combined. Mix in the cooked & cooled wild rice, then the crushed crackers.
- Scoop out a ½ cup of the mixture, form it into a patty, & then place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Repeat for the remaining 7 patties. Bake the patties for about 10 minutes on each side, or until they are just barely crispy. You may grill the burgers instead, but I would still recommend baking them for at least 5 minutes per side so that they stay together when grilling.
- Cover each patty with a slice of cheddar cheese & stick the burgers back in the oven for a minute to melt the cheese.
- Prepare the buns & burger toppings by first splitting the buns & toasting them in a toaster oven for 1-2 minutes. Spread a layer of garlic mayonnaise on the top half of the bun, then place a pinch or two of sprouts & two slices of tomato on top of the garlic mayonnaise. Add the wild rice burgers & serve immediately.