Food & Drink

It’s the end of summer – celebrate with something better than a burger

By Jeanmarie Brownson

Chicago Tribune

Crispy shrimp burgers with a spicy homemade mayonnaise make an indulgent departure from your usual burger for Labor Day.
Crispy shrimp burgers with a spicy homemade mayonnaise make an indulgent departure from your usual burger for Labor Day. Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS

We enjoy burgers all summer. Labor Day weekend deserves a splurge on a departure from the usual beef: crispy shrimp burgers with a spicy homemade mayonnaise.

These indulgent burgers are inspired by a trip in the UK. After a morning exploring Abbey Road, we ventured to the Holborn Dining Room in London’s Rosewood Hotel. The gorgeous marble, polished wood and red-accented brasserie is well known for our favorite summer cocktail – the gin and tonic.

These are not just sloppy Tanqueray and tonics. The Holborn’s Gin Bar features more than 400 boutique gins and 27 tonic waters. With house syrups and secret potions, the restaurant can turn out more than 14,000 possible gin and tonic combinations.

In the end, a lavender and pink grapefruit G&T swept us away. Converted, we came home, planted lavender just for cocktails and started making homemade syrups.

The Holborn shrimp burger sent me on a hunt, too. Turns out, raw shrimp, some chopped and some nearly pureed, yield the juicy, nearly bouncy burger reminiscent of Holborn’s signature sandwich. A hot, oily griddle, not a grill, creates a perfectly crusty exterior.

The shrimp burger mix is seasoned with a bit of garlic and fresh herbs. Breadcrumbs and an egg white help hold the patties together during cooking. To shape the soft mixture into burgers, I put mounds onto an oily, heated griddle and then press the mounds into 1-inch thick burgers as they start to cook.

Use a food processor to make speedy work of chopping and coarsely pureeing the raw shrimp. Lacking a processor, a sharp knife and a cutting board works to finely chop half of the shrimp. Then work in small batches in a blender to coarsely puree the other half.

Holborn tops their burgers with a spicy jalapeno tartar. I make my version with griddle-roasted jalapeno, chopped fresh herbs and a good-quality, store-bought mayonnaise. The combo tastes great on burgers of any flavor.

Serve the burgers with butter-basted zucchini sticks and an icy cold gin and tonic. Your labors will be appreciated.

Shrimp Burgers With Jalapeno Mayonnaise

Jalapeno mayonnaise:

1 medium-large jalapeno

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh chives and parsley

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Pinch salt


2 pounds raw shrimp in the shell (1 1/2 pounds peeled shrimp)

1/2 small onion, quartered

2 cloves garlic

2 loosely packed cups brioche or white bread cubes

1 egg white

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh chives and parsley

6 brioche burger buns, split

12 thin slices ripe tomato

1 1/2 cups fresh watercress or baby spinach leaves

Safflower, sunflower or expeller-pressed canola oil

Put jalapeno into a small, heavy skillet set over medium heat. Cook, turning, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. When cool, remove stem. Cut in half and scrape out the seeds. Chop flesh very finely.

Put mayonnaise into a small bowl; stir in jalapeno, chives, parsley, lime zest and salt. Refrigerate, covered, up to several days. Serve at room temperature.

Put about half of the shrimp into a food processor; pulse several times to chop coarsely. Transfer to a large bowl.

There’s no need to clean the food processor. Turn it on and drop onion and garlic into it while running. Process to finely chop. Add remaining shrimp and bread; pulse until shrimp is finely chopped. Add egg white, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times until mixture is a coarse puree.

Add shrimp puree mixture to the bowl with the chopped shrimp. Fold in the chives and parsley. Divide mixture into 6 even mounds. Refrigerate up to a few hours if desired.

Split the buns and toast lightly.

Heat a large nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a thin film of oil. Once the oil is shimmering hot, add a shrimp mixture mound. Use a spatula to press the mound into a 1-inch-thick patty. Repeat with remaining shrimp mounds. Cook burgers over medium heat until the bottoms are golden, about 6 minutes. Flip carefully. Cook until golden on the second side, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread the insides of the buns generously with the mayonnaise. Finish with a shrimp burgers, watercress or spinach and tomato.

Per serving: 590 calories, 28 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 240 mg cholesterol, 53 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 31 g protein, 1,177 mg sodium, 4 g fiber

Yield: 6 servings

Zucchini Sticks With Mint

4 medium (1 1/2 pounds) green zucchini, ends trimmed


1/3 cup unsalted butter

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Cut the squash crosswise into 3-inch lengths. Cut the lengths into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut the slices into 1/2-inch sticks. Sprinkle generously with salt and set into a colander to drain.

Put butter into a small saucepan; melt over low heat. Remove from the heat. Skim off and discard the foam. Use a spoon to skim the golden yellow liquid off into another dish. Discard the milky solids at the bottom of the pan.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the clarified butter and the zucchini sticks. Saute, basting the zucchini often with the butter in the pan, until golden and fork-tender, about 10 minutes.

Season with pepper. Sprinkle with mint. Serve hot.

Per serving: 110 calories, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein, 392 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Yield: 6 servings

Grapefruit and Lavender Gin & Tonic

I love Fever-Tree tonic water here. Use St. Germain elderflower liqueur if you don’t want to make simple syrup.

3/4 cup sugar

Small sprigs fresh thyme

Small sprigs fresh lavender

Ice cubes

Thin bias-cut slices unpeeled cucumber

Thin wedge-shaped slices fresh pink grapefruit

Pink grapefruit juice, preferably freshly squeezed


Chilled tonic water

For the syrup, heat sugar and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 2 or 3 thyme and lavender sprigs and let cool. Remove the herbs and decant the syrup into a small bottle. Refrigerate, covered, up to several weeks. Makes about 1 cup.

For each drink, fill a large goblet half full with ice. Put 1 cucumber slice, 1 grapefruit slice and a sprig each of lavender and mint in each goblet. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice, 1 tablespoon cooled syrup, 1/4 cup gin and 1/2 cup tonic water. Stir and serve.

Per drink: 228 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrates, 22 g sugar, 0 g protein, 19 mg sodium, 0 g fiber