Fried Hamburger (Fašírka)
Ingredients: 1lb pork, 3 cloves garlic, one quarter medium onion, one egg, bread roll about the length of your open hand, milk, salt, black pepper, flour, bread crumbs, side (4 boiling potatoes, quarter of chopped up red cabbage, salt, sugar, caraway, butter, few slices of red pepper)
Prep Time: About an hour, including boiling potatoes
Nowadays, it’s easy to satisfy your hamburger craving in Slovakia. Many major cities have a McDonald’s. And even those that do not will have a myriad of street vendors selling all kinds of burgers. But, even with all this hamburger variety around, don’t forget to try the traditional Slovak take on this American staple. The dish is called fašírka, and is a juicy breaded ground pork patty fried in oil.
Or make it at home. Making fašírka is easy! I completely documented this recipe while at my grandma’s in Slovakia. But just as I was about to post it, I had a second thought. I love this dish way too much. I really wanted to make sure I can prepare it, all by myself, from scratch using American ingredients. So that’s what I did. Using the photos I shot in Slovakia, I recreated my grandmother’s recipe. It turned out great. But I’ll let you be the judge. And best of all, fašírka is another very cheap dish to make. From the ingredients, which could not have cost more than 7 dollars, I made 9 patties and enough mashed potatoes for 3 hearty dinners. Plus several sandwiches.
Prepare the side
Start by preparing the side. I served the dish with a side of mashed potatoes and red cabbage. Cook the potatoes in their skin until soft (45 minutes?). Then peel them under running cold water so you don’t burn your hands. Add butter and salt and mash them until creamy. Also chop up as much cabbage as you like. Fry it on oil for about a minute. Then add enough water to cover the entire bottom of the frying pan. Also add salt and few tablespoons worth of sugar. I also added caraway seeds. Cover and let steam until soft. Open the lid occasionally and add more water as needed.
Onto the main dish
Once the bread is soft, grab it in your hand and squeeze out the liquid. Add to the meat and work in until no bread chunks remain. Also add flour to stiffen the meat mixture. I ended up using twice the amount shown in the photograph.
Next, place more flour in a bowl. Dust your hands with flour. Take several tablespoons worth of the meat mixture and roll between your palms. Flatten to make a hamburger. The patties I made were about 3/4 the size of my palm and about half inch thick. Dip them in the bowl of flour, and evenly cover on both sides. Set aside. I ended up with 9 patties.
Now make the dough. Combine about half a cup of flour with one egg, salt and enough water to make liquid mixture with the consistency of milk. You can also add little bit of beer if you like. Next, heat up oil in a frying pan. Then setup your “assembly line”. It starts with the flour-covered patties, goes through the dough to a bowl of bread crumbs and finishes in the frying pan.
Fry the breaded patties for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. One neat trick I learned at my grandma’s is to use a knife and fork to flip the patties. It works so much better than a spatula!
And that’s it. Serve with mashed potatoes, cabbage and little bit of veggies. Top the mashed potatoes with grease from the frying pan to give them the authentic fatty Slovak taste. On the left is the dish I cooked up. On the right is what I had at my grandma’s. You will notice that Slovak bread crumbs are much finer than the American variety. Also, my grandma used canned cabbage and veggies. Otherwise, I think the two dishes look very much alike. They both tasted wonderful!
You can also eat this dish on the go. In fact, it is very common for parents to prepare a fašírka sandwich for their kids before a long bus or train ride. It goes great with sliced onion and mustard. I also topped it with red pepper and a slice of provolone cheese.