• Yield: Makes 4 bitiki

I've always been fascinated by hamburger meat mixed with bread in various forms: crumbs, soaked bread, etc. So after coming upon a recipe for bitiki, or Russian hamburger "cakes," I thought I'd take a shot at homage. Oh, man! I love these things, caught in the interspecies synapse between hamburgers and meat loaf. Your result will be nothing like a burger - but excellent in its own right.




  • Special meat preference: supermarket ground beef, preferably the wavy stuff

  • Special bun preference: steamed and soft

  • Special condiment preference: mayonnaise, shredded lettuce and dill pickles




1. Place 1 cup home-made bread crumbs in a bowl, and drizzle with 1/4 cup hot milk. Add 1 pound ground meat, 3 tablespoons dried onion flakes (yeah ... convenience food ... but how else do you get that nostalgic cafeteria taste?), 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of sour cream. Mix together gently but well.


2. Form into 4 burgers. Dust each burger with flour.


3. Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the patties, and cook until golden-brown outside, medium-rare inside.


4. Place the cooked burgers on warm buns that have been slathered with mayonnaise. Top each burger with 3 round slices of dill pickle, and a small mound of shredded lettuce.

Adapted from the May 2008 issue of The Rosengarten Report. Copyright 2008 by David Rosengarten.

David Rosengarten
David Rosengarten is a food writer, cookbook author and cooking teacher. He is the editor-in-chief of The Rosengarten Report, a James Beard award-winning newsletter. He is the author of several cookbooks, including It's All American Food, which won a James Beard award for Best American Cookbook. He has hosted or co-hosted more than 2,000 television shows, including "Taste," which won a James Beard award for Best National TV Cooking Show. Previously he served as a contributing editor for Gourmet.