I don’t know about you, but when I was young boy, a burger was meat in a bun – nothing too fancy, no added flavour-enhancers, perhaps the odd slice of lettuce, and a slice of tomato with a pinch of salt and pepper. Oh how the times have changed.
The fast food chain stores do their best to get creative, but nothing can really compare to those you make yourself. Perhaps if you go to a higher-end restaurant you may experience what your heart craves for. But the only way to find out what that is is to experiment at home.
Let your imagination go wild – release the beast within yourself. The flavours can be as simple as a pinch of salt and pepper, to a bold meat eruption – exploding with flavour in your mouth, such as ground turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper.
Nowadays, I am all about the bold – not because I have an educated palate, but rather I crave that taste explosion. That burst of flavour that dictates to my stomach something special is on its way.
But everyone has an opinion. However you like your burgers is the way to go. For instance, you can even customize the protein: choose from turkey, chicken, pork, beef, vegetarian, vegan and fish – or any combination of them. You do you!
500 g ground beef
500 g ground pork
350 g fresh, finely chopped bacon
400 g blue cheese
4 shallots finely chopped
8 green onions finely chopped
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili pepper
¼ cup fresh-chopped parsley
2 tsp finely-chopped ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of salt and pepper
For the burger bun
4 large ciabatta buns
1 large, thinly sliced tomato
1 red onion finely sliced
Fresh, thick sliced bacon
Place all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl aside from the bread rolls, the egg and the cheese. Mix together thoroughly. Add to the mixture your egg and knead together (the egg acts as a binding agent).
Once you have blended all of the ingredients, scoop out a ball of meat with your hands (the ball should be larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball).
Start to shape your meat into a burger, letting the meat soften in your hands. Once you have your shape, open up the centre and add some blue cheese. Then seal it with more meat.
Finally, place the patty on a plate, and repeat the process until all of your meat mixture has been used up. Cover and place in your refrigerator until ready to cook.
Cooking time is important. Slow-cooked burgers are a treat, and of course, it’s best to cook ‘em on a barbecue if you have access to one.
Heat the barbecue to the required temperature, usually around 300 F. While you are waiting for the barbecue to heat, take the burgers out of the refrigerator and cover one side with a sauce of your choice. Then place the burger on the barbecue sauce side down, and spread another layer of sauce on top. Some people say you should only turn burgers once, keeping the juice in, but temperature is the real key. Turn the burgers when the blood starts to show, and keep doing this until the burgers are blood-free.
Now the fun begins. To add a little dimension to your burger, you can sear your buns on top of the barbecue. Once they have taken on a golden colour, add some arugula, sliced red onion, sliced tomato – and why not add a little freshly barbecued bacon? (Trust me, it’s delicious.)
Finally, to serve, place your burger onto the plate with fresh fries, sprinkle some sea salt, sit back and enjoy the flavour eruption.
Ian Leatt, a former chef in Jersey, the Channel Islands, is general manager at Pegasus Publications Inc.