Thursday, February 2, 2012

Venezuelan Hamburger and Cuban Congri Paired with 2010 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Sarah Chapeau Virginia Vidal Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Blend

Venezuelan Hamburger and Congri

A true Venezuelan hamburger does not exist to my knowledge.  In fact, hamburgers are not very common in Venezuela other than the big chains that export the worst of our U.S. culture to all corners of the world.  Venezuelan’s have plenty of great street/fast food like pepitos, empanadas, and arepas – tough competition for the hamburger (for an arepa and pepito wine paring see my posts Venezuelan Arepas with Reina Pepiada and Pollo Mechado Paired with 2009 Benziger Family Winery Carneros Chardonnay, and Venezuelan Pepito, Guasacaca, Salsa de Ajo Paired with 2009 Clos Du Bois Sonoma Reserve Russian River Valley Chardonnay respectively). So rather than present a Venezuelan hamburger, I will be honest and present you with a Venezuela inspired hamburger.

By the way, for all my Venezuelan friends, if you care to correct me regarding my interpretation of a Venezuela inspired hamburger, I would love to hear from you.  I miss all of you, and your beautiful country (less so el presidente although he made every day an interesting one).

Conceiving of a Venezuelan Hamburger was quite easy.  Venezuelans like beef and pork equally and frequently enjoy both on the grill.  This gives us the first component – a burger made from 50% ground beef and 50% ground pork.  Next we add a slice of deli ham.  I’m not sure why, but just about every type of “fast food” or street food in Venezuela is adorned with a sliver or two of ham.

Venezuelan Hamburger and Congri-1

While not prevalent in all of the country, in the mountainous areas of Venezuela it is common to find a fried egg added to many dishes – particularly sandwiches, arepas, pepitos, and the like.  Finally, we top the burger with a slice of avocado and the ubiquitous Venezuelan salsa de ajo (garlic sauce).

If you follow the news, you know that Venezuela and Cuba enjoy close diplomatic relations.  As a result, the Cuban population in Venezuela has grown dramatically in the last 10 years.  One of the culinary delights that accompany Cubans is congri – seasoned black beans and rice.  If you don’t get excited at the sound of beans and rice, I understand.  However, I promise you that congri is much more than beans and rice.  It is rice and bean heaven!

Venezuelan Hamburger and Congri-2

I chose the 2010 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Sarah Chapeau Virginia Vidal Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Blend to for the pairing.  Normally, I would choose a medium to full bodied red to pair with a hamburger.  Routine choices might include a Bordeaux, Merlot, Zinfandel or Syrah depending on the cheese and other toppings.  However, this burger does not require a heavier bodied wine and features much lighter flavors.  First, the 50/50 mix of ground beef and ground pork brighten the patty flavors dramatically compared to an all beef burger.  Second, the choice of ham, fried egg, avocado and salsa de ajo beg for acidity, melon or bright fruit, and a lighter body.

2010 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Sarah Chapeau Virginia Vidal Blanc Suvignon Blanc Blend-1

Winemakers notes:  A hint of strawberries and rose petals.  The nose will entwine and tease you.  Flowery fruity yet tangy melon notes laced with a touch of semi-sweetness promises to satisfy your very soul.  To these notes I would add that the wine featured moderate acidity well matched to the food, and a hint of citrus that also worked exceptionally well.

2010 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Sarah Chapeau Virginia Vidal Blanc Suvignon Blanc Blend

If you live in the DC area, Aspen Dale Winery is just a short drive West on 66.  We had a very pleasant experience in a beautiful setting.  A visit is well worth your time.  I am confident that a visit to the tasting room will bring smiles – and a few bottles of wine for your collection.


For the burger, mix 50% ground pork with 50% ground beef.  Prepare as you would any burger.

Salsa de Ajo


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper cleaned, deveined and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 of a medium onion chopped
  • Salt to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Cuban Congri


  • 1 Cup Black Beans
  • 2 Cups White Rice
  • 5 Cups Water
  • 12 ounces of Salt Pork cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 Red Pepper chopped
  • 1/2 Yellow Pepper chopped
  • 1/2 Green Pepper chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Cook black beans in water. I used a pressure cooker with 5 cups of water - it took just 20 minutes.
  2. Roughly chop the peppers and onions.
  3. Heat olive oil in 4 quart sauce pan over medium high and cook salt pork , stirring occasionally, until pork is golden and crisp.
  4. Add onions, bay leaves, bell peppers, garlic and cumin. Sauté over medium-high heat until onion is tender.
  5. Add rice and stir in.
  6. Add the cooked beans along with the water used to cook them and let sit, do not cover or stir.
  7. Continue to cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to low, stir, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. 


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