Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Burger Queen

Beefburgers are one of the easiest things to make. All you need is quality minced steak, salt and pepper, and nothing more. No self-respecting cook would add anything else. Unless of course it's me.
Best steak is expensive, no getting around that! But it is false economy to use any other as it would then be too fatty, have too much gristle. I prefer to extend the meat by adding grated onion, breadcrumbs, an egg yolk (might as well keep back the white to use for something else), some chopped parsley. This way the cost of each 'burger should work out no dearer than those rather yukky ones often for sale in freezer cabinets.
Buy your meat from the butcher, he will even mince a cut specially for you if you wish, and always ask for the best quality. Don't forget 'burgers can be made with other meats as well as beef - minced lamb, chicken, turkey and there are many vegetarian options.
Here are a couple of top-of-the-range 'burger recipes to make and freeze for those special occasions. To reduce the cost, just use a little less meat and a little more of the other ingredients, You know the way my mind works when it comes to economising!
Stilton Burgers: makes 12
4 oz (100g) Stilton or Danish Blue cheese
3 lb (1.5kg) minced steak
1 small onion, finely chopped or grated
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard, or 1/2 tsp English mustard
Crumble the cheese as finely as possible and mix with the other ingredients. If wishing to freeze, form into 12 round flat cakes then open freeze before bagging up. If wishing to use within 24 hours, cover bowl and keep chilled in the fridge to allow flavours to develop. When ready to use, form into burgers and cook under a pre-heated grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.

Peanut Burgers: makes 4
1 lb (500g) minced steak
1 small onion, grated
1 heaped tblsp. crunchy peanut butter
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste.
Just mix everything together and divide into four equal pieces. Form these into burger shapes. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
Tip: If there is only smooth peanut butter in your larder, you could include some finely chopped unsalted peanuts to give added texture.

Meatballs (F)
The above recipes can also be used to make meatballs, only this time add breadcrumbs and egg to bind the lot together. Use 1 oz (25g) breadcrumbs and 1 egg to 1lb (500g)meat. Whether or not you use these 'extenders' to the burger recipes, with meatballs just mix them in to bind. A quick way to make the mix is to throw all the ingredients in a food processor and give them a quick blitz. This gives a smoother texture, perfect for meatball but not suitable for burgers.
Either fry the meatballs in a pan on the hob, or roast off in a hot (200C) oven for 15-20 minutes (they can be frozen at this stage). Then pour over a tomato or other sauce and heat through to serve.
Pork Balls with Pasta
Try skinning quality sausages, then forming the meat into tiny balls, giving them a quick fry then stir them into a carbonara type pasta dish.
Tip: Flour or wet your hands before forming the balls to prevent the mixture sticking to you.