An Egyptian street food, hawawshi (pronounced ha-WOW-shi) is a riff on the hamburger, if you will. It is basically dough (or pita in this case) stuffed with a mixture of ground meat—lamb or beef—that is seasoned with tantalizing warm spices, onions, garlic, hot peppers and fresh herbs.
There are three components to making these hawawshi patty sandwiches: the seasonings, the meat mixture, and pita pockets—we used the multi-grain variety. This satisfying sandwich is typically served hot without much else to accompany it, although we both felt it needed a sauce of some sort, such as tahini or tzatziki, neither of which we had. Instead, we made a quick mixture of mayo and Sriracha and spread it in the pocket. And it’s never a bad idea to add a side salad…
Since the original recipe (shown below) made 12 sandwiches, we cut it in half, which also gave us a few leftover for lunches.
1 green bell pepper, cored and cut into large chunks
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded (leave some of the seed if you like heat)
½ oz. fresh parsley stems, trimmed
2 lbs. lean ground lamb or beef
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
Extra virgin olive oil
6 pita pockets
For the Hawawshi Seasoning (Spice Mixture)
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. cumin
¾ tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, add the spices and mix to combine.
Put the onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno, and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse a few times until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a sieve to drain excess liquid (it helps to push with the back of a spoon).
Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the ground beef and tomato paste. Mix to combine. Add the spice mixture and a dash of kosher salt. Mix again until the mixture is well combined and the spices are well distributed within the meat mixture.
Cut the pita loafs in halves to create 12 pita pockets.
Prepare a large sheet pan brushed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
Stuff each pita pocket with ⅓ cup of the meat mixture. Using the back of a spoon, spread the meat mixture inside the pita pockets.
Arrange the pitas in the prepared sheet pan. Brush the pita pocket tops with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
Bake in the heated oven for 15, then carefully turn the pitas over and cook on the other side another 5 to 10 minutes until the meat is fully cooked and the pita is crispy on both sides.
What’s summer without a great burger now and again? And how about an upgrade that puts you in adult territory by incorporating a rich taleggio cheese. When combined with the other ingredients, the ground meat patties become light and airy allowing all of those flavors to dance a jig on your taste buds.
These deeply savory burgers were inspired from a recipe by Ignacio Mattos, chef of Estela in New York and author of a book by the same name. Instead of using fish sauce like Mattos, Courtney Hill from Milk Street opted for similarly salty and umami-rich Worcestershire sauce. It is mixed with rosemary and garlic to create a rich base. These seasonings, combined with a simple, yet sinful, taleggio cheese sauce, make these burgers richer, more elegant and far more flavorful than your average cheeseburger.
As far as buns, brioche buns or Kaiser rolls are recommended, as they better resist turning soggy than standard hamburger buns. Keep it simple with toppings using only sliced tomato and/or pickled red onions to balance the burgers’ richness. We used both although I never got around to pickling those onions.
We found that our cheese sauce was silky smooth after simmering with the heavy cream and therefore did not need to be strained. Instead of adding black pepper, we used white to keep that creamy color.
Don’t put the cheese sauce directly onto the cooked patties because it will slide off. A better approach is to spoon the sauce onto the cut sides of each bun and allow the bread to slightly soak it in.
8 oz. taleggio cheese, rind removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
2½ Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1½ pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
4 buns, split and toasted
In a small saucepan over medium, heat the cream until just simmering. Stir in the cheese, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand until the cheese is softened and partially melted, about 20 minutes, quickly stirring once halfway through.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the Worcestershire sauce, garlic and rosemary. In a medium bowl, combine the beef with 1 tablespoon of the Worcestershire mixture and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, then mix gently until the seasonings are evenly incorporated.
Divide the meat into 4 portions and shape each into a patty about 4½ inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick.
In a 12-inch cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until lightly smoking. Add the patties and cook for 3 minutes, spooning 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire mixture over each.
Using a wide metal spatula, flip the patties and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, again spooning 1 teaspoon of the sauce onto each.
Continue to flip and cook, brushing with the remaining sauce mixture, until the patties are well browned on both sides and the centers reach 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, another 2 to 4 minutes.
Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
(This step may not be necessary if your cheese mixture is velvety smooth like ours was.) While the burgers rest, set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Stir the cream-cheese mixture thoroughly, then pour through the strainer, pressing with a silicone spatula to force the cheese through; the sauce should be smooth and creamy after straining. Stir in ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cheese sauce onto the cut sides of both halves of each bun. Place a burger on each bottom bun half, then cover with the toppings.