Czech Hamburger (Karbanatky)


One of my favorite recipes from Mom, and a classic Czech family dinner, is Karbanatky or a Czech hamburger.  Made from ground beef it is kept moist and juicy with meatloaf additions like bread soaked in milk, egg and chopped bacon.  Typical seasonings like paprika and marjoram make it Czech.

It is also different in that it is coated in breadcrumbs and fried until the outer coating is dark and crispy.  “Karbanatky” translates loosely in English into something that is barbecued, and this meaty burger definitely takes on that dark, crispy and smokey sensibility.

It is not served on a bun, but rather next to mashed potatoes dotted with butter and perhaps some caramelized shallots.  Enjoy topped with ketchup on a cold winter day, with a Czech beer, like Pilsner Urquelle.

1 slice white bread

1/4 of a white onion

2 sprigs fresh Italian parsley

1 clove garlic

1 slice bacon

1/2 lb ground beef (chuck or sirloin)

1 egg

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp dried marjoram

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Canola oil for frying


1.  Remove crusts from slice of white bread, place bread in a small bowl and pour a little water or milk over it to soak.  Once bread is softened, squeeze out the extra liquid and place in a large mixing bowl.

2.  Finely chop white onion, by first slicing it: 

Then chopping the slices crosswise into small dice:

Place in mixing bowl with the bread.
Tear off the leaves of parsley from the stalk, and chop finely as well.  Place into bowl.

Mince garlic clove finely, so that there are no large pieces of garlic:

Place minced garlic into bowl.  Chop bacon, by first slicing crosswise and then chopping slices crosswise into dice:

 Add chopped bacon to bowl.  Mix everything in bowl thoroughly with a fork until combined:

3.  Add ground beef to the mixture in bowl.  Separate the egg, place the egg yolk into the ground beef mixture and the egg whites into a separate small bowl.

4.  Add all seasonings to the beef mixture.

5.  With your hands, smush and mush the beef mixture until thoroughly combined.  Shape the mixture into two hamburger sized patties and place on a plate while you prepare to fry.

6.  Pour bread crumbs out into a large plate or shallow bowl.  Pour canola oil into a heavy frying pan to coat the bottom, and heat slowly over medium heat.  Meanwhile, with a whisk whip the egg whites for a minute or so, until softly foamy (this breaks up the egg whites and makes it easier to coat the beef patties):

7.  Handling the beef patties gently, first coat one in the egg whites, then coat completely in bread crumbs, patting the crumbs in lightly.  Do the same with the other beef patty.

8.  Place patties in hot oil in pan and fry until deeply golden brown and crusty on both sides, about 10-15 minutes per side, flipping once.

Serve with mashed potatoes topped with caramelized shallots, a green vegetable and a cold beer.


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