What would Lakin—old-school-hamburger revivalist, creator of an epically decadent Nutella milkshake—do with Chinese eggplant? Deep-fry it and put it on a burger, of course. Each Saturday, Lakin heads to the Evanston farmers’ market in the early morning, then hauls back whatever catches his eye and assembles it into a produce-laden Market Burger, available on weekends only at Edzo’s (1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston, 847-864-3396). “It helps me stay in touch with what’s in season and forces me to think outside the box,” Lakin says. Recently, Lakin assembled Dietzler Farm beef, Mt. Sterling goat cheese, Green Acres Marconi peppers and long, slender Chinese eggplants from Henry’s Farm into an end-of-the-season burger masterpiece.
Find Henry’s Farm Italian basil and Chinese eggplant, Mt. Sterling dairy goat cheese and Green Acres Farm Marconi peppers at the Evanston farmers’ market, University Place at Oak Ave, Saturdays 7:30am–1pm through Nov 6.
Edzo’s Market Burger
For the burger:
8 ounces high-quality freshly ground beef
1 sturdy burger bun, toasted
2 tbsp Marconi pepper relish (recipe follows)
2 tbsp herbed Wisconsin goat cheese spread (recipe follows)
1 thick slice of black Russian tomato
1 less thick slice of Green Zebra tomato
¼ cup mixed baby lettuce, washed and dried
1 duck egg, cooked over easy
1 small handful of Chinese eggplant chips (recipe follows)
For the eggplant chips:
4 Chinese eggplants
oil for frying
For the Marconi pepper relish:
4 Marconi peppers
1 large yellow onion, sliced
½ tbsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the herbed goat cheese:
2 cups fresh goat cheese
½ cup whole milk, or as much as is needed to soften the goat cheese to the consistency of a spread
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
¼ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp kosher salt
½ tbsp ground black pepper
1. Make the eggplant chips. Slice the eggplants very thinly into coin-shaped pieces using a mandoline. Toss the eggplant slices with a good pinch of kosher salt and spread them out in a wide colander set over a bowl to allow some of the bitter liquid to leech out. Let the eggplant sit for an hour or two. Get your fryer oil to 350 degrees and fry the eggplant slices, in small batches, until they just begin to turn a darker brown (about four minutes total) and then drain onto paper towels. Do not season, since the eggplant will have absorbed a decent amount of salt.
2. Make the Marconi pepper relish. Slice the peppers and onions into quarter-inch strips. Get a sauté pan very hot. Add the oil and, when it starts to shimmer, add the peppers and salt and pepper. The idea here is to sear the peppers very quickly so they soften and get some color yet retain their sweetness. Cook for four to five minutes over high heat, stirring to ensure even cooking. Remove the peppers and set aside to cool. Reduce the heat on the pan and add the onions and a bit more oil if necessary. Add the dry herbs and salt and pepper to taste, and allow the mixture to cook slowly. The onions should soften and take on a nice golden brown color. Cook for about ten minutes, then remove and combine with the peppers. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
3. Make the herbed goat cheese. Put the goat cheese in a bowl and add the green onions, herbs, salt and pepper. Add about half the milk and then mash everything together with a spoon. Add more milk until you achieve a spreadable consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Salt and pepper the beef just before placing it on the grill. Char-broil the burger to desired degree of doneness (Lakin suggests medium rare). Place the pepper relish on the bottom bun, followed by the lettuce. Gently rest the burger atop the lettuce. Top the burger with the tomatoes—first the larger red tomato slice, then the smaller green slice. Lay the over-easy duck egg gently over the tomatoes, being careful not to break the yolk. Scatter a handful of the eggplant chips over the top of everything. Slather a thick layer of the goat cheese on the top bun and rest it askew alongside the burger.