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I’m partial to a good burger. All things minced in fact are all right in my books: meatloaves, meatballs, koftas, ragù in a Bolognese or lasagne, cottage or shepherds pies, bulgogi (sort of mince) and let’s not forget my illicit clandestine love affair with the doner.
But burgers crown the list and I think the secret really is in that slice of gherkin that a burger should be topped with. Joking aside - good minced beef has lots of flavour and sometimes, but sometimes, it can beat an average steak for me.
But there’s the rub - as most aficionados I’m quite demanding of the objects of my affection. Good quality meat is a prerogative - not too lean and God forbid gristly, the best cut is chuck steak plus bits of skirt plus, if necessary, some nice clean white fat. Apart from the meat factor there’s the herb factor - not too overpowering; and the onion factor - none, on reflection, unless onion powder. But the key thing is the texture.
They must not be crumbly.
It is apparently anecdotal how I have ‘this thing about crumbliness’ and how other people like their burgers crumbly. Really? Do they? I beg to disbelieve. I’m convinced a smooth compact texture is what we all favour, hence that’s what the Mackey Ds deliver, meat content notwithstanding. If crumbly was vied for, they’d be selling MacPouches.
Anyway the remedy is at hand as below: Parmesan. Lots of it. No, the burgers won’t taste like Caesar salad or carbonara, in fact it won’t be discernible to taste. But you’ll thank it for the fantastic texture - just don’t forget that slice of gherkin…
beef burgersServings: 2 good-sized burgersTime: 30 minutes plus chilling
- 300g chuck steak with good fat content, minced (or good quality beef mince, not too lean)
- 30g freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- a few sprigs of coriander, chopped finely
- a pinch of chili flakes
- a pinch of grated nutmeg
- To serve:
- 4 slices of good melting cheese, Monterey Jack or Gruyere
- lettuce leaves
- red onion, sliced thinly
- gherkins, sliced lengthwise
- a large ripe tomato, sliced
- ketchup or your preferred burger sauce
- burger buns or homemade Hokkaido milk rolls
1. Mix all the ingredients very well in a bowl, best using your hands. Divide in half, wet your hands and shape each portion into a ball, packing it in tightly, quite like making a snowball for a snowball fight. If you have a burger press use it to shape the burgers, about 3cm thick and 9cm (3 ½ inch) in diameter. Otherwise use a 3 1/s inch round pastry cutter or a clean tuna tin to press and pack the patty in. Either way it’s useful to cut discs from parchment paper so the patty doesn’t stick to tin/press/whatever you’re using. Chill the formed burgers ideally overnight, and at least a couple of hours.
2. Remove the burgers from the fridge half an hour before cooking to bring them to room temperature.
3. Heat a cast iron skillet, a griddle or a heavy frying pan until smoking. Season the patties on both sides with salt.
4. Cook them for 6 minutes for medium and 10 minutes for well-done, flipping sides every 30 seconds. In the meantime place two cheese slices at a time in a non-stick pan over low heat, they will take no time at all to melt.
5. Slice and lightly toast the buns in the meantime.
6. To build the burgers, place a lettuce leaf on the bottom bun, followed by the burger patty, the melted cheese, onion, gherkin and tomato. Squirt some ketchup or sauce, cover with the bun lid and poke a fancy skewer through to hold it. I served mine with triple cooked chips and excellent coleslaw.