weekday beefy burgers!
April 27, 2011 § 2 Comments
Today’s ‘non recipe’ is more of a ‘this is what we ate today’ really, as it’s burgers and salad. Hardly the most difficult thing to cook yourself, and the accompaniment of salad is hardly rocket science either [rocket - see what I did there?]. So last night I asked husband what he’d like to eat today. His eyes kind of glazed over and as he looked into the middle distance, a barely audible mumble dribbled from his mouth. ‘Burrrgerrrrrrs’. We haven’t eaten beef in what seems like ages so today I hightailed it off to the local butcher and ‘got meat’.
Our local village butcher is the usual example of a rotund crimson-cheeked jolly man in a white coat, always ready with a little titbit of meteorological opinion and a polite inquiry as to what you have planned for your purchase. Sometimes I think it’s because he’s genuinely interested. Other times I sense something in his eyes, something a little – not sinister exactly – but… maybe if you tell him you’re making meatballs or burgers, you’re fine, he’ll sell you the beef mince and let you off on your merry way. But if you tell him you’re buying mince to make Lebanese koftas or chilli con carne or anything ‘foreign’, maybe his lips will straighten and he’ll reach under the counter and press an alarm and somewhere a red light might flash the words ”WARNING : FANCY PANTS” and he’ll tell you that he doesn’t welcome your type round here and you might be escorted from the shop by big men in black suits with unfamiliar accents. As a result I confine my conversation to burgers, meatballs, and how hot/cold/overcast/sunny/windy/calm it is outside. Just in case…
And here is said mince. I trust our local butcher – and since I moved here I sing his praises to anyone who’ll listen. His mince is far, far superior to anything you’ll find in a big chain supermarket. It’s – well – meaty! It’s not full of water, has just the right amount of fat in it and it’s minced less finely than supermarket mince so it doesn’t dissolve into nothingness when you introduce it to heat.
I tend to make burgers differently depending on the occasion. If they’re a quick and simple weekday supper this is the default method I use, if they’re for the BBQ I’ll spice them up with chilli flakes or some fresh coriander, if they’re for a sunday lunch I’ll hide some cheese inside… the point is there’s no right or wrong thing to do with a burger, as long as they taste good. And they’re such an easy thing to make.
So this first thing I do is chop a small red onion. I use red cause it’s sweeter and gives a nicer mellower flavour than white onion. The key thing is to chop it small, very small. VERY small. These look big, but I assure you it’s only because I was up close. I sweat them off in a little pan with the barest dribble of a good olive oil until they’re barely translucent, which is a fancy way of saying ”soften it – but don’t brown it”. I season them with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt near the end, then them cool completely.
While the onions are cooling off, today I made a quick tomato and mozzarella salad. On hand I had lovely little sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes, but you could also just chop up bigger toms into smaller chunks. I diced up a round of fresh mozzarella, and added some sliced black olives and some green onion, cause I didn’t have fresh basil. Salt, black pepper, and a glug of extra virgin and it’s ready to rest in the fridge till everything else is done. Resting it, I find, gives all the ingredients time to get know one another and the flavours mellow out a bit.
Now – the burgers! So in a bowl I break up the mince with a fork, add in the now well chilled onion, and mix well. Done! No need to season as the onion is already salted and peppered, so now all I need to do is shape it into burgers. I like big round chunky burgers, as opposed to flat ones, but you can decide on the shape and size of yours.
In case you’re wondering – I make a little dimple in the middle of the tops and bottoms. I can’t remember where I picked up this wee tip – but it supposedly stops your big round chunky burgers from splitting round the edges when they cook – or maybe it’s so that they’ll cook more evenly in the centre – I can’t just remember now. All I know is that when I make the little dimples in them they don’t fall apart, and the centre cooks evenly. It’s just become habit over the years. If the thought of dimpling your burger makes you squirm however, just pretend I never mentioned it. I also rest the burgers in the fridge for a little while. They hold their shape better I think – and after all that shaping and dimpling it’s only polite to allow them relax for a wee bit before cooking.
So then you want to fry them in a HOT pan with a little oil. The oil needs to be really hot when you put the burgers in so you get a nice colour on the outside, and the quicker all those lovely juices are sealed in, the more moist and squiffy and lovely your burgers will be. Then turn the heat right down and cook them through. Here they are, complete with a strange green light from the lights above the hob!
I also threw a few washed lettuce leaves in a bowl and dressed them with a simple oil and balsamic dressing – my favourite dressing when the salad isn’t an all singing all dancing centre of the meal.
A little dish of chilli mayo on the side for an extra flavour kick and all that needs to done now is throw everything on a plate and enjoy!