Sunday, 21 October 2012

Homemade burger

Following on from my last blog post where I reviewed the brilliant Honest Burgers in Soho, here is how I would make my own burgers at home. 

Although I love to go out to a diner or burger joint, I’m a firm believer that the best burgers are the ones that you make at home. You can tweak the ingredients to make them just how you like them, cook them perfectly for you and serve them with your favourite condiments. I’m not a massive fan of ketchup and sliced tomatoes in mine, and seem to spend half my time pulling or scraping various bits from burgers eaten out, even when I’ve asked for them to be left out. There is nothing worse than a disappointing burger, and making them at home takes all of this stress away. They are so quick and easy too, and if you’ve got the ingredients in the house then you can make them in the time that it would take you to get a takeaway.

As with everything this simple, the ingredients will do the talking so try and use the best quality you can. When buying mince, don’t buy really lean mince, as you still want some fat present which will give more flavour and moisture to the cooked burger. Unlike many other burger recipes, this one has no eggs or breadcrumbs to bind it together. I think that these aren’t all that necessary and often give the burgers quite a hard texture. These burgers are really soft, but they are quite delicate and you need to be careful when shaping and turning! To help this, make sure that the ingredients that go in the burger mixture are chopped really finely. 

I’ve recently read about using brioche and even doughnuts as burger buns, but to be honest I think that the best thing is a simple large soft white bun. Anything too crusty will make it difficult to eat (especially important if eaten in company!), and could cause the burger to fall apart. I think that the sweet contrast in using a brioche has scope though, and I look forward to experimenting with this in the future. 

Try with the beer battered gherkins below as a good alternative to chips.

Makes 2 large burgers


300g steak mince, not too lean
1/2 a medium red onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced
4 tbsp cheddar, finely grated
3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp english mustard
Salt and pepper

2 large soft white buns, or brioche if preferred

Your choice of additional ingredients to serve. I like my burger with crispy smoked bacon, stilton, finely sliced red onions, gherkins, rocket and mayo.

To make the burgers, gently loosen the mince with your fingers in a large bowl and add the onion, chilli, cheddar, parsley, mustard and a good amount of seasoning. Mix well until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Heat a frying pan on a medium heat. Make a small patty out of a tablespoon of the burger mix and fry for about a minute on each side before trying and tasting for seasoning. Adjust the burger mixture if necessary. 

Split the mixture into two. Taking one half in your hand, bind it together into a ball and knead it quickly between each of your hands. This will help the mixture stick together and make shaping much easier. Carefully shape into a large burger, pressing any cracks together until you have a smooth disc. Set aside and repeat with the other half. These can be kept in the fridge until needed if preparing in advance. 

Put a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Lightly oil and season both sides of the burger and fry for 3-4 minutes each side for medium, a little less or more if you like it rare or well done. If using cheese, put it onto each burger with a minute or two left of cooking to allow it to melt. 

Prepare the other condiments and additional ingredients while the burgers are cooking. When the burgers are done, transfer the burgers into the buns with the toppings and serve. 

Beer battered gherkins with paprika mayo

Gherkins are a really marmite ingredient, some people like them and others can’t stand them; I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is indifferent to them. If you do like them, then these light and crunchy beer-battered gherkins are a great accompaniment to the burgers, or just to have as a snack on their own. 

They’re really easy to make too. The only thing that you need to be careful with is the deep frying. Always use a big pan and fill it no more than half full. If you are making a lot, fry the gherkins in batches to stop the oil temperature dropping and from them all sticking together. 

Serves 2-4 as a snack or side dish.


1 jar of large gherkins, quartered lengthways

For the batter:

100g plain flour
175ml good ale or beer
Salt and pepper

2ltrs vegetable oil for frying

For the mayonnaise:

4tbsp homemade or good quality shop bought mayonnaise
1/2 a garlic clove, very finely chopped
A sprinkle of smoked paprika
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

To make the batter, mix the flour and a good amount of seasoning together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the ale whilst whisking the mixture well to remove any lumps. Add the ale until the batter is the thickness of double cream. 

Heat up the oil in a large saucepan to 170ÂșC. When hot, coat the gherkins in the batter and lower them into the oil individually to avoid them sticking together. Fry until light brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slopped spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Season and serve. 

For the mayo, spoon the mayo into a bowl and add the garlic, parsley and seasoning. Mix well, then sprinkle the paprika over the top.

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