Biff à la Lindström - beetroot beef burgers the Swedish way


Lindström's beef burger with grated beetroot

Biff à la Lindström or Lindström's burgers is a traditional Swedish dish made of ground beef and grated, usually pickled beetroot, onion and capers. With some googling I uncovered a raging culinary debate about the exact origins of the dish. Or maybe it's not exactly raging, not in the Sunni/Shia or Thatcher/miners way, but there are a couple of theories regarding the origins of the dish. According to one theory a Finn may have had their hands in play. Very little is invented in these two countries so whenever anything is, there is an inevitable argument as to who gets to take the credit. These are the main theories:

Sweden full glory:
In the mid 1800s Maria Kristiina Lindström was keeping a grocery shop in the beautiful town of Stockholm (on Regeringsgatan to be exact). She made a mix of ground beef and stuff,  much as you would for Swedish meatballs or meatloaf, but had a brainwave or just some excess beetroot and decided to chuck in the beets for taste and colour. She sold these burgers in her little shop that could have been called Burger Kung but it wasn't. It was called "Silent Mary" (Tysta Mari),
 because she wasn't much of a conversationalist. Not a hugely intriguing story, would you say.

Finland, Russia and Sweden share the glory, that would be the first:
A St.Petersburg born, cultured Finnish lieutenant Henrik Lindström serving in the Imperial Russian Army (not that I am a fan of any sort of a Russian army) went to a restaurant in the historic town of Kalmar (sure you know all about the Kalmar Union, feels like that was all we studied in primary school history lessons, that and  the Hanseatic League) in Sweden on 4th May 1862 (my father's birthday) (different year). The septilingual lieutenant Lindström was dining in the restaurant of hotel Witt with his distinguished friends. I bet he had a fashionable, well-trimmed moustache. He asked the waiter to tell the kitchen to prepare a special dish for his table party: chopped well-hung topside roast, minced fried onion, capers and beetroot on a plate for each. He gave the waiter the exact measurements. The illustrious Lieutenant and his friends then mixed their own burgers and sent them back to the kitchen to be cooked. Sounds like something he could have come across in a St. Petersburg restaurant on one of his boozy nights with his officer friends. Still today you can eat this dish in the hotel Witt in Captain (he was later promoted) Lindström's bar and bistro.

Lieutenant Henrik Lindström  -  the man behind Biff a la Lindström
Aah, that's a proper moustache. Now we both have said moustache. A moustache, a moustache.
If you only got a moustache. 

Biff à la Lindström - beetroot beef burgers the Swedish way
Bright red and ready for oven

Lindstrom's burgers (serves 5-6 / makes 12 reasonably sized burgers)

2 small or medium yellow onions
2 beets
1/2 cup of cream or creme fraiche (or milk/low fat creme fraiche, if you want to be healthy)
1/3 cup bread crumbs (some recipes call for a couple of cooked potatoes grated as a binding agent instead of the bread crumbs)
2 eggs
500 g ground beef (or you could use a mix of pork and beef)
1/4 cup of capers
1 - 1 1/2 tl salt
1/2 tsp blackpepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Peel and grate the beets. Many recipes recommend pickled beetroots, so feel free. Peel and chop the onion. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onion on low heat until it has softened. Chop the capers.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and leave for 10-15 minutes to rest. Form any size of burgers you like. You can fry them in a frying pan with a little bit of oil, but I like to keep it healthier so bake them in 200C oven for 25 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes and fried onions or a mushroom sauce. Or go crazy and fry an egg sunny side up and serve on top of a burger.

Fresh beets on a plate

Biff à la Lindström - beetroot beef burgers the Swedish way

I am linking to Extra Veg at Fuss Free Flavous and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy

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  1. That sounds so delicious, beef, beetroot and capers sound just perfect! thanks for sharing with #ExtraVeg!

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