The humble burger

Serves: 4

Prep time: 20 minutes plus time for the onions to cool and the patties to rest.

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Some of my most enjoyable moments as a chef were working at the celebrated burger joint Fergburger in Queenstown, NZ. While a pure meat pattie is a wonderful thing (it works for Ferg & maccas) I feel it’s a missed opportunity to add flavour. Heston talks of mixing cuts and in a pure meat pattie it makes perfect sense. Though when it comes to making a burger at home without too much faff I use ground chuck. It has a great meaty flavour, around 15%-20% fat to carry that flavour and keep the burger juicy and succulent, it’s also nice and easy to get hold of and cheap to boot. I’ve played around with lots of different flavoured burgers (some I’m sure will appear on here) this recipe I keep coming back to.

You will need:

For the patties:

500g minced chuck

100g white onion finely diced (roughly half a large onion)

80g mozzarella slices very thinly shredded

1 tsp English mustard or 1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp liquid smoke (there’s a time and a place for it)

3/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika

10 turns of cracked black pepper

Pinch of salt

For the relish:

40g White onion finely diced

40g Gherkin or cornichon finely diced

1/2 red pepper

1 tsp Tomato puree

3 tbsp Tomato ketchup

For the mayo:

A large pinch of fresh dill chopped

1 small clove of smoked garlic

1 small pinch salt (I used maldern smoked)

100g mayo

To serve:

4 burger buns – see my recipes for burger buns

Lettuce (I used baby gem)

8 slices of crispy smoked streaky bacon

Gherkin sliced

Your favourite cheese

Making it:

The mayo:

Crush the garlic clove and finely chop and then grind with the salt or simply push it through a press (where’s the fun in that?) then chop the dill and mix the dill, garlic and mayo together. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the burgers.

The relish:

Finely dice the onion,gherkin and pepper, and then stir into the ketchup and tomato paste. This makes for a lovely fresh relish and it’s quick as anything to make.

The burgers:

Dice the white onion and in a dry pan fry off over a low heat stiring occasionally until the onions are translucent then set them aside to cool. In a large bowl mix all the pattie ingredients until combined. Don’t overwork the mix.

Divide the mix into 4 equal balls and then line a ring mold with cling film and press the ball into the mold to make the patties. Press only as firmly as you need to, to get the meat evenly spread though the ring. Fold the clingfilm over and then rest them in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Alternatively just press the burgers into a more rustic pattie by hand.

Get your accompaniments together.

Being someone who never wants to waste a drop of flavour,after I dry fried my bacon (crispy fat,chewy flesh) I then toast my buns cut side down in the rendered bacon fat to give them a little extra love.

These burgers cook well on the BBQ and great in a pan. Allow them about 4 minutes on each side in a medium hot pan and then 2 minutes in a hot oven to finish off. Or on a medium hot BBQ just flip them every 3 minutes until cooked, just please don’t press them or all those tasty juices go up in smoke.

When the burgers come out of the oven give them a minute to rest. Meanwhile put relish on the toasted lid of the bun then a slice of mature cheddar. Put them in the oven to melt this warms the relish which brings out more flavour and melts the cheese, it’s also less messy than cheese running off a pattie. Bring them out of the oven and pile on the bacon. Spread the mayo on the bases then layer it up with the baby gem and the sliced gherkins.

Top with the pattie then flip the lid on top. Enjoy.

Variations:

Mix it up with any salad, topping or sauce combo you can think of (just be sure to work some bacon in there) these patties are great too on a plain bun to let you really taste the flavour of the pattie.

Replacing the paprika and liquid smoke with some garlic powder or roasted and crushed garlic works nicely and I often sneak a dollop of ketchup into the pattie mix. There are endless options of the cheese you put in the mix, Parmesan is great but I’d cut down on the amount or you’ll taste little else. Just experiment with it and have fun.

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