It’s no question as to where the citizens and guests of Vilnius will be heading to for lunch or dinner today. The gourmet burger festival Vilnius Burger Fest will be indulging enthusiasts of fast yet exceptional food for the fourth time. Chefs will be wowing the audience with combinations of a variety of flavours: aged beef, pulled duck, smoked pig’s foot, bull’s tongue, and that’s just the start of it. You will be able to pick the brains of the chefs buzzing around their gourmet masterpieces about secret tricks for preparing meat while Vilkmergė beer sommelier Vidmantas Čičelis is ready to give some early tips as to how to fully bring out the flavours of different burgers.
© Organizatorių nuotr.

Gourmet burgers: chefs' boundless ideas

Burgers struggled to make their way into the daily menu of Lithuanians. An unusual meal in between two buns initially raised little enthusiasm. Chef Jonas Jonušas, one of the first to start promoting burger and street food culture in Lithuania, claims that burgers are now thriving and Lithuanians have great fondness for this type of fast food: 'A more than a decade ago, burgers would be seen as a nuisance at festivals; however, now, this dish is among favourites for many. It's all the rage right now, and people keep searching for new things, bringing various flavours and ideas from all over the world.'

Chef of Viking the Chef Vylius Blauzdavičius agrees with him. According to him, gourmet burgers have been at the peak of popularity for a number of years now as the food is fast and delicious. Those seeking new things will always find ways to please their palates, even though exceptional burgers are reserved for more special occasions. Even with all the pleasant flavours to discover, a classic sandwich with quality aged beef is always the go-to choice for every-day lunch.

The festival, which attracts more visitors every year and which will be serving never-tasted-before flavours again, is another proof that people love burgers made of quality products. Among the delicacies to grace gourmets' palates are burgers with bull's tongue boiled at a low temperature and smoked in smokes of black alder, pulled pork from pig's leg smoked for 12 hours or beef brisket smoked for 18 hours. Home-made buns and buns made by the chefs themselves, self-made sauces with various berries and jams, Swiss and blue-veined cheeses—it seems that one burger will not be enough.

Celebrating more than handmade burgers

The festival, which brings together the best chefs, fans of quality food and enthusiasts looking for new things once a year, will be offering the possibility not only to taste exceptional creations of chefs but also enjoy drinks that go together with the food and good music. To make sure that you experience a real harmony of flavours, Vilkmergė beer sommelier Vidmantas Čičelis gives advice on what beverages to pair with your chosen dish.

'When pairing beverages and burgers, a number of different things must be factored in: the chosen meat, the spices it's marinated with, the method of its preparation: grilled, smoked, or boiled. The selection of side dishes is also wide as it's a dish that consists of different flavours complementing each other. For instance, non-alcoholic beverages or beer may also be made of numerous ingredients; therefore, possible combinations are countless,' claims Vilkmergė beer sommelier V. Čičelis.

The expert recommends pairing a lighter poultry burger with lighter beverages while darker yet sweeter drinks will go better with smoked or darker meat, such as beef. Find the best flavour combination by choosing several drinks and tasting them with the chosen dish.

If you feel inspired by the gourmet burger festival Vilnius Burger Fest to test your own skills, chefs recommend a couple of gourmet recipes that you will easily make at home.

Recipe of a chicken burger with peanut sauce by chef Jonas Jonušas:

You are going to need:

Fresh buns

Chicken breast from one side

Salt

Pepper

Oil

For the sauce:

1 jar of peanut butter

1 jar of Hoi Sin sauce

1 glass of coconut milk

1 spoon of soy sauce

1 spoon of fish sauce

Juice of one sweet lime

Chilli peppers according to taste

For the caramelised onions:

Onions

Sweet soy sauce

Oil

Preparation:

Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and rub with oil. Let it marinate for a few minutes. Cook it on a grill until it turns brown, but do not overcook it. Cut the onions finely, fry them in oil until they become brown. Pour the sweet soy sauce, let it evaporate a bit, and take the chicken out of the frying pan.

Toast the buns, you may spread them on one side with jam, for example, cranberry or cowberry. Slice the chicken breast in strips and put them on the jam. Put on the peanut sauce, sprinkle with the caramelised onions, and top everything with the other bun.

Recipe of a burger with pulled venison by Viking The Chef chef Vylius Blauzdavičius

You are going to need ( for 6 pieces):

1 kg of venison shoulder

BBQ sauce

20 g of smoked paprika

30 g of sugar

20 g of onion powder

20 g of garlic powder

20 g of paprika powder

10 g of ground black coffee

10 g of salt

One package of Žemaitiškas kastinis (Samogitian sour cream butter)

6 pieces of Brioche burger buns

For the cabbage salad:

300 g of white cabbage

1 carrot

50 g of soaked raisins

2 spoons of horseradish

3 spoons of mayonnaise

10 g of salt

5 g of pepper

60 ml of vinegar

10 g of sugar

Preparation:

Mix all the spices and rub the venison shoulder with them. Leave the seasoned shoulder in the fridge for a few hours. You may put some bar-b-cubes (preferably from apple tree or wine barrel) into the prepared grill. Put the deflector in, put a pan with apple juice on it, then the grates and finally the venison. Smoke at 120 degrees for 2 hours, then roll the meat into foil and leave to smoke for 1.5 more hours. Leave the meat for 30 minutes after taking it out and then shred it. You may also smoke the meat in the oven.

While the meat smokes, finely cut the cabbage, pour vinegar over it and season with salt and sugar, mix everything well and press with your hands. Wait for the cabbage to release its juice. Pour it off, put the finely cut raisins, horseradish, mayonnaise, and pepper into the cabbage and mix everything well.

Mix the pulled venison with the BBQ sauce. Warm up the burger buns. Spread the bottom one with kastinis, put on the cabbage salad and the prepared venison. Top everything with the other bun, spread with kastinis.

Chicken burger by Drama Burger chef Paulius Stalioris:

You are going to need:

Brioche burger buns

Chicken filet

Chicken thigh meat

Mayonnaise

Chipotle sauce

Pickled cucumbers

Cheddar cheese

Cold smoked bacon

Arugula leaves

Salt

Pepper

A little bit of olive oil

Preparation:

Choose the amounts of the ingredients according to the amount and desired size of the burgers. Fry the chicken fillet and chicken thighs in a frying pan for 6–7 minutes (for juiciness), then fry the cold smoked bacon until it's lightly browned. While the bacon is frying, prepare the Chipotle mayonnaise–mix the mayonnaise of your choice with the Chipotle sauce in equal parts. Toast the bun cut in half in a frying pan or the oven. Spread the buns with the prepared mayonnaise, put on the pickled cucumbers, chicken, cheese, and browned bacon. Top everything with the other bun.

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