If you aren’t going to eat your brioche ripped apart, spread with raspberry conserve whilst sipping a short, dark espresso to start your day (or served after dinner with a large scoop of ice cream in it like an ice cream burger, a la Nigella Lawson) then you need to try it as a burger bun. Oh, I’m horrifying myself with the sheer indulgence of doing so, in fact, someone needs to stage an intervention rapido. I need someone to come round, rip the burgers and brioche from my hand and push me on to a treadmill! But before I go all rabbit food and skinny bakes, let me tell you about the delicious indulgence that is this, The Ultimate Burger…
I’ve been trying to remember when I made my first burger and it’s hard to recall doing so before Hungry Hubby came into my life. Not to say I wasn’t a fan but it wasn’t until I met him that I really made an effort to make one at home. Like all fast food, it may be fast to cook but there is a reasonable amount of prep involved and so if I’m going to make us burgers for tea, it will usually be a Saturday night treat. Having made more than a few in my time since then, and tried all sorts of methods and flavour variations, Hungry Hubby and I have settled on this as our go to method; so today’s post is far more of a suggestion than a recipe. We learned a long time ago that the very best homemade burger was made with very little more than minced meat and seasoning in the patty and that it should be cooked, covered in a hot pan where the steam produced keeps it succulent and juicy. Don’t move it once you place it down, flip once and and after said flip, place cheese on top to melt as the second side cooks. That’s all folks!
I’ve experimented with adding egg, breadcrumbs, chillies and herb or spice pastes galore and honestly, all those delicious added extras are best served stacked up on your burger, not in the patty itself. The texture suffers from adding too many extra bits (although the one good thing to add is a small amount of caramelised onions which you’ve chopped finely to distribute through the meat) and you risk them falling apart as soon as you try to pick it up. So not a meal to try on a first date! Don’t be to heavy handed when you shape the burgers so not to produce a tough, solid mouthfeel instead handle with a light touch and just shape them to a flat round no more than 1.5-2cm thick. Any more than that and you will have a raw middle and charred outsides. You want them juicy and tender when you bite into them.
When I make us these burgers I buy the best minced beef I can find, organic and free range with around 10% fat and see it as a luxury meal, not a cheap convenient food to be eaten with alarming frequency from a cardboard box embellished with Golden Arches, as too many of us in the developed world do! If you’re going to do something wrong, then doing it like this will make it feel so right (
righteous?), knowing that you’ve put the best ingredients into it you can without any nasty hidden added extras, not to mention the appalling treatment of the livestock that goes into junk food burgers. This burger may be fast but it most certainly isn’t junk.
Our toppings vary but the burger stays the same, unless we’re using minced lamb in which case I would season with a little garam masala and top with chunks of feta instead of the various English hard cheeses we usually opt for. Feel free to add or subtract whatever you like as toppings – maybe leave a comment to say what you idea of the perfect toppings burger are? This time, I went with sliced tomatoes, chopped cornichon, Red Leicester, curly lettuce and avocado mashed up with lime, garlic and spring onions (a very simple guacamole). Toasting the cut surfaces of the brioche buns is advised to guard against breakage from all that moisture and serving with a stack of napkins is mandatory! Typically, Hungry Hubby and I eat this sitting next to each other rather than opposite so we don’t have to witness the messy jaw dislocation you need to eat it lol! #helpfultip #shamefultruth #sorrynotsorry
- 250-300g minced beef (organic and free range if possible)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp sea salt (be brave and add a bit more than you think)
- ¼-½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 burger buns or brioche rolls
- Toppings, sides and sauces of your choice
- Gently combine the beef, garlic, salt and pepper with the olive oil and shape into two patties no more than 1.5-2cm thick. Place on a plate and cover with clingfilm then chill in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
- Prepare any toppings you want to serve with the burgers. I like a few sweet potato baked wedges to serve alongside so I pop these in a hot oven for about 30 minutes as I prep the burgers and toppings.
- When ready to cook, place a frying pan with a lid on the hob and heat on high. Not smoking hot as the meat will burn but a shade cooler than smoking and you’re bang on the money. If it is a nonstick pan you wont need any extra fat but you might want to add a little if you are using a pan that isn’t very well seasoned already.
- Place the burgers down on the hot pan and quickly place the lid on. Do not move them. Leave for at least three minutes before peeking underneath to check the bottoms are nice and brown. When ready, flip over and place a slice of cheese on top of the cooked burger surface if using and replace the lid, cooking again for 3-4 minutes. If you are nervous about having a raw middle, then there’s no harm in poking a small sharp knife into the middle to have a look if it’s cooked through. 4 minutes a side is usually what I end up doing and this means you have a succulent burger but the last shred of pink has turned brown and the burger is done.
- Rest on a clean plate for a couple of minutes before assembling your burger. Toasting the buns is recommended if you are using lots of moist toppings.
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