Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Home-made hamburgers.

I don't know about you, but I have never been a big fan of those cardboardy, tasteless hamburgers one gets at fast food joints. I like my patties big and meaty and full of goodness, and as a result, I tend to make my own. Because, frankly, mine are so much better. Plus it's easy, so why wouldn't you?

Here's what I do.

I take about 250-500g mince, depending on how many people I am feeding. I pretty much always make too much, to tell the truth. But that's ok, cos I use it. More to follow - keep reading!! You can use pretty much any mince that catches your fancy. I tend to use beef, cos I like me some red meat, and also it's fairly cheap, but I have been known to use venison and ostrich when I can get it.

Take the mince and pop it in a mixing bowl. Throw in a can of chopped/diced tomatoes. The canned ones, in this instance, are better than fresh ones, because they hold together in the patty better. Add an egg, and if you feel the inclination, some bread crumbs. The bread crumbs do help keep things together, but often I think they're more trouble than they're worth, unless you happen to keep those pre-crumbed thingies in your kitchen. Frankly, I think you can safely leave them out, though. Then throw in some salt and pepper and herbs of preferance. Rosemary works well cos it goes nicely with tomatoes, but you could also use sage, or marjoram or tarragon, which are my favourite red meat herbs.

Now comes the trick. You can totally leave this step out if you're budgetting, but I found this in an Italian recipe for meatballs once, and it really does add a certain panache to the taste: parmesan and parma ham. Seriously. Sounds nuts, but take a couple of slices of parma ham and cut it into little bits, and mix it into the mixture with some grated parmesan. HEAVEN!

Mix it all nicely together. I use my fingers, cos I like that hands-on approach to cooking - you can use actual cutlery if you wish. Plus you're going to have to get your hands dirty in the next stage anyway. If you wear rings, remember to take them off before doing this!

Now make balls of the meat mixture and plop them onto a plate covered in flour. Depending on how many you're feeding, you may only end up using half of the mixture. Don't despair! Pop the rest into a container and freeze it. It makes *really* good pasta sauce for those emergency "Oh God! what are we having today?" days.

Heat some oil on a frying pan. Make sure your patties are covered in flour and flatten them as much as you wish and pop them in the frying pan. Cover it with one of those handy anti-splatter items if you have one, cos they do spit a bunch. Now here's the trick. Leave them alone. Let them cook just like that for a good ten to fifteen minutes. If you try to turn them too soon, they will fall apart and become.. well... mince meat really. I always try to turn them too soon, so I know what I am talking about! The flour on the outside does hold them together to some degree, but really letting the bottom bit cook properly helps a huge amount. AFTER ten to fifteen minutes, turn them with a spatula and cook the other side. The cooked side should be really quite well browned. At this point you can dictate how red or not you want it, though I don't generally think rare mince is a good plan. Probably another ten to fifteen minutes is advisable.

Ta-da! Home made burgers.

If you're really adventurous you can make home made buns to put them on too. I do that sometimes, when I'm feeling energetic. Making buns with whole-wheat flour quite effectively lowers the GI and general fatteningness of the whole dish, if you're concerned about that sort of thing. And they're easy.

A cup (or so) of flour, some yeast (I use the instant packets and it works fine - don't listen to the yeast snobs!! ;), a table spoon of sugar and some salt. Add enough warm water to get it doughy. My very smart sister's advice is have a cup of tea or coffee about forty minutes earlier and use the cooled left-over water in the kettle. It's normally just about the right temperature. Knead it merrily for a bit. Leave it for about an hour to rise, covered with a warm, damp cloth. Roll the dough into balls and place them on a baking tray, covered with the same damp cloth, and leave them for about another half an hour. This is a good time to make the mixture above. What? so I'm not chronological? Presumably you'd read this whole thing before making them anyway. Shush.

They should rise up some more. Take the cloth off and bake them for about 30 mins on 180 degrees C. (I dunno what that is for Americans, I'm afraid...)

And that's homemade hamburgers. Believe me, much tastier and better for you than anything you could get at a fast food joint, and really not that hard to do. Enjoy the scrumminess.


Sikander7 said...

Very tasty and the parmesan works much better than mixing in cheddar. If you have cheddar I guess it would be best to put it as a slice on the meat in the bun.

belgatherial said...

Very true!!