Meaty Easter Baskets!

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This weekend was our annual pagan easter sunday celebration. Each year, we gather with our friends and feast on delicious food and copious amounts of wine and revel in all that is unholy. This year, we even had the special treat of a lovely prayer by my friend, North, to the patron saints of alcoholism & dysentery, in hopes they’d protect the cooks & the feasters! Non-traditional, definitely. Filled with love & fun, definitely!
Once the email chain started about who was cooking what, I volunteered lamb as a rather traditional easter meat, second only to the glazed ham. As I pondered how to effectively and deliciously prepare lamb for a large group, I had a sudden spark of inspiration: I wanted to make easter “baskets” made of potato, topped with greens, a mini lamb burger, and an egg. What a way to combine all the elements of easter into one tasty and cute bundle!
But first I had to figure out how to make these baskets. I did some research and started trying different methods of cutting & cooking the night before to see what would work. Let me make a long story short – Casualties: 2 melted ladles, 1 burnt hand, 1 burnt potato crusted muffin tin, and about 2 lbs of hand shredded potatoes.
burnt hand fail
FAIL! (burnt polka dot hand)
However, in the end, my dogged determination to make my vision happen came through and i figured out a safe, effective, reproducible way to make these crispy, tasty potato baskets!
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This was definitely the hardest part of the recipe to figure out, but now all the work is done for you. Imagine what other delicious things you could use these cute potato baskets for!
This recipe consists of

  • a potato basket topped with
  • mixed cucumber/cilantro/basil chop up topped with
  • caramelized shallots topped with
  • lamb/bison mini burger topped with
  • fried quail egg garnished with
  • a chive basket “handle”

On to the recipe…
Ingredients: (12 Servings)
Potato Basket

  • 2 golden russet potatoes (medium sized)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt/pepper
  • Butter
  • Cooking spray

Lamb/Bison Burgers (will make slightly more than 12 servings. freeze the rest for later!)

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf italian parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 TB black pepper
  • 1/8 cup shredded romano cheese
  • 1 TB cumin

Other toppings

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 10 sweet basil leaves
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 shallots
  • 12 quail eggs

Instructions:
1. Marinate the burgers (can be done day before)
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  • Finely chop up the sundried tomatoes & parsley
  • In a large bowl, add the lamb, bison, tomatoes, parsley, salt, sugar, pepper, romano cheese, cumin and combine thouroughly using your hands
  • Cover until ready to use. You can also do this the night before and refrigerate for more flavor. Just remember to bring it back to room temp before cooking

2. Make the potato baskets

  • Heat the oven to 440
  • Line a muffin tin with a square of foil in each cup & generously grease each cup with butter. I’d go heavy on this one just to make sure the baskets do not stick
  • Using a food processor or mandolin, finely grate the potatoes into strands

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  • Squeeze out as much water as you can from the potatoes. It’s amazing how much water is in there! I found the most effective way was to grab a handful and squeeze in my bare hands and then blot overall with paper towels. The drier the potatoes the crunchier your basket!
  • Beat one egg in a separate bowl and then add to the poatoes and stir to combine. Add salt & pepper and stir.
  • Give the potatoes another squeeze out/blot, then grab about 2 TB of potato strings and place in the bottom of the muffin tin. spread them out with your fingers to line the muffin tin bottom & sides in a nice thin layer. Strings sticking out the top is ok too, just make sure to keep the layer pretty thin to maximize the crunchiness. Repeat for all the muffin cups.

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  • Spray the tops and pop the pan in the oven for 20 min or until edges & middle of bottom are nice and browned.
  • Remove from oven, remove foil cups from the pan to speed up cooling. Let cool for about 5 – 10 min
  • Then carefully peel the foil away from the basket, working slowly and carefully not to tear the baskets, and you’ll end up with these beautiful babies!

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3. Caramelize the shallots (can be done day before)

  • Thinly slice the shallots to form tiny rings of yum
  • heat up some butter in a pan & add the shallots
  • cook on medium/low heat, stirring often
  • About halfway through, add a splash of red wine, if desired
  • salt as desired as well
  • Shallots are done with super soft and dark brown. Set aside

4. Mix up the greens (can be done day before)

  • While the baskets are cooking, chop up the cilantro
  • Slice the cucumbers into tootpicks
  • chiffonade the basil
  • Toss together and set aside

5. Cook the burgers

  • Form small 2 inch round patties from the meat and place on a plate
  • Heat up a pan – I used a cast iron griddle with ridges to get the “grill” marks – with some oil & or butter
  • Just as it’s starting to smoke, place some patties in the pan. Don’t overcrowd them!
  • Cook about 4 min on one side & flip over. Cook another 3 min then remove from pan.

6. Fry the eggs

  • Heat a non-stick pan with a little bit of butter. Get it hot!
  • Quail eggs are hard to crack b/c they are so small and the membrane inside the egg is kind of tough. Use a knife to cut around the middle of the egg, and then pry it open over the hot pan until all the egg drops onto the pan
  • Cook to sunnyside up about 2 min each
  • Place the egg on top of the burger when you remove it from the pan
  • Cutest little eggs ever!

7. Build the baskets!

  • Take one basket
  • Place some of the greens in the bottom

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  • Top with some caramelized shallots

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  • Top with a burger & egg
  • Take a chive and tie in a big loop
  • Slip the loop around the whole thing to make your basket!
  • Top the egg with a some chiffonaded basil

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Baskets
There’ s so much flavor & texture here to entertain your mouth! The burgers have a really great flavor that stands up well to all the rest off the stuff going on in this dish. The lamb & bison combine for a burger that draws the fatty flavor from lamb, but that is balanced out by the super lean bison. It’s meaty, it’s fresh, it’s crunchy, it’s delish!
Enjoy!

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