We’re right in the thick of grilling season and the all-American beef burger isn’t the only way to use ground meat on the grill. In this recipe by cookbook author and meat expert Bruce Aidells, which appeared in Real Food, ground chicken gets a flavorful Asian flair and provides a way to mix things up in your repertoire. And there are a number of ways to serve these chicken patties: with Vietnamese sweet vinegar dipping sauce and lots of salad greens and herbs; on a bed of cooked thin Asian rice noodles or cooked vermicelli with an assortment of herbs; or simply as a burger garnished with lettuce, herbs, red onions, and mayonnaise mixed with a little of the dipping sauce. (If serving as a burger, skip the noodles.) You can buy pre-ground chicken at the grocery store, but Aidells likes to make his own to make sure there’s plenty of flavorful dark meat in there.
Vietnamese Ground Chicken Patties
Makes 4 servings
Ground chicken patties
1¼ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into ½-inch dice
or 1¼ lbs. ground chicken
3 green onions (white and green parts) finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. finely chopped ginger
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Cold noodle salad
½ lb. dried bun (Vietnamese rice vermicelli), cooked until soft but still firm, 4 to 6 minutes, rinsed and drained
or ½ pound Italian vermicelli, cooked and drained
6-8 leaves red leaf or romaine lettuce, washed and shredded
2 c. bean sprouts
1 c. thinly sliced cucumber
½ c. shredded carrot
½ c. thinly sliced sweet red onion
20 sprigs cilantro
10 sprigs Thai basil or sweet basil
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (see below)
Chill the diced chicken in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Place in a food processor and pulse several times to make a coarse ground mixture. (If using pre-ground chicken there is no need for this step.)
Transfer ground chicken to a mixing bowl. Add the green onions, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to the bowl and stir to blend. Shape the ground chicken into 8 patties about 2 inches wide and ½ inch thick. Set them aside until ready to cook.
Preheat a grill or broiler to medium-high heat. Grill the patties until the meat is done and the edges are nicely charred on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. (You can also cook in a frying pan). Transfer to a serving plate. Set the dining table with a platter of cold rice noodles and bowls of the garnishes.
To serve, let diners serve themselves a portion of noodles and provide them each with a small bowl of dipping sauce. Let each diner dip a couple of patties into the dipping sauce, then lay them on top of the noodles. Encourage each guest to garnish with an assortment of salad greens and fresh herbs then drizzle over some dipping sauce to dress the mixture.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. Japanese rice vinegar
1⁄3 c. fish sauce
2⁄3 c. warm water
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. finely chopped hot green chile such as Serrano or jalapeño (optional)
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except the chile and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add optional chile if desired. Divide into 4 small bowls and serve.
If using as a flavoring agent with mayonnaise add mayonnaise to taste, then serve with Vietnamese burgers.