Last year, Embrocation team rider Chris Laflamme experimented with the Paleolithic Diet for Athletes. His non-stop talking about this diet elicited reactions from a few other teammates and bike racers that they too had experimented and found success with this diet plan.
What is the Paleo Diet, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a diet that attempts to replicate the dietary intake of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, meaning lots of fresh veggies, nuts and meats – no processed foods, no breads or baked goods; nothing that has come to prominence due to the agricultural revolution – meaning things like wheat, potatoes and corn are off limits. The result of this diet is supposed to be that the body assimilates food more easily and as a result, produces fewer toxins and acidic byproducts, therefore the body more readily deals with lactic acid produced at effort. Plus you’re supposed to lose weight by virtue of not taking in as many empty calories. Something like that anyway.
That’s a long way to introduce this little recipe, discovered out of the desire to eat a burger but the necessity to avoid the bun and enjoyed most thoroughly. The dish is a bison burger atop a sweet potato latke, covered in sauteed onions and mushrooms. It’s a great, high protein, low fat dinner that’s filling and satisfying enough to eat after a long day in the saddle. Here’s what you’ll need:
4 Sweet Potatoes
1 package ground Bison meat (can be procured at most nicer grocery stores)
1 medium to large sized onion
1 package sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
3 scallions, chopped finely
For spices you can go your own way, but I’ve found this works best with:
Red Pepper Flake
The sweet potato pancakes are really more like latkes, since they’re just spiced sweet potatoes fried up (as opposed to a flour-based pancake that happens to include sweet potatoes). They’re cornerstone of this dish. Here’s how we made them:
Peel and grate 3 of the sweet potatoes using a standard cheese grater; the fourth should be mashed. (For a mashed sweet potato usually I just heat it up in the microwave for about 4 minutes, then cut it in half, scoop out all the guts and mash it up in a bowl.)
Add the mashed and grated sweet potato bits together in a mixing bowl with the garlic cloves, which should be finely chopped. You can add the scallions to this mixture if you desire a pancake that is less sweet and more earthy and astringent in flavor. Add two egg whites to this and mix thoroughly. I find hands are the best mixers for this particular task. When the sweet potatoes are thoroughly mixed, you can make up the patties.
Grab a fistful of the mixture and, holding your hands over the sink or a separate vessel, squeeze all the moisture you can from your handful. Once this is done, form into a patty shape and rest the sweet potato pancake on a paper towel sheet to absorb remaining moisture. Repeat for the remainder of your mixture.
Pan fry the pancakes in a large frying pan using medium to high heat with a thin covering of vegetable oil. With pan covered, cook on each side for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the pancakes caramelize.
Meanwhile, the bison burgers are easy. Just form them into patties and allow them to settle and warm up to room temperature on a plate. Pan fry the bison patties in olive oil on medium to high heat, allowing only 1 to 2 minutes of cooking per side – bison is best served on the rare side. Remove from pan and allow to rest.
Immediately after, add the onion, which should be chopped into rings, to the pan with the mushrooms, salt, pepper and rosemary. Reduce the heat and saute these in the bison juice and additional olive oil until the onions are soft and caramelized. This should take about 10 minutes.
When plating, set a sweet potato pancake on a plate, place bison burger on top and then add a generous portion of sauteed onions and mushroom mixture on top. Add additional seasoning if desired. We’d recommend some red pepper flake or hot sauce to compliment the burger, and perhaps a simple side salad dressed to your preference.
We’ve found this relatively simple dish to be sweet, rich, earthy and generally very satisfying to a sizable hunger.