When I first moved to Jozi I was like any other broke young person and I must confess, before someone finds out, that one of my favourite and most cost effective meals was a cheese burger from a certain fast food chain, no names. It wasn’t really a hamburger, it looked like something from a space movie, a perfect molecular clone of what a hamburger would look like if a computer drew it, with no attention to what it should taste like. Even though I now hang my head in shame I can’t lie I used to love them, but even back then I used to day dream about the big juicy homemade burgers we ate as kids.
I still love hamburgers but now they are a far different affair, just as simple, but completely different. Coarsely ground grass fed beef forms the heart of the burger, speckled with pale yellow fat loaded with flavour and beta carotene from the cattle’s diet, lightly flavoured with herbs and fresh onion (some soya and Worcestershire if you aren’t using grass fed beef). I add the two sauces to bring out the umami flavour of the meat, this is necessary in supermarket purchased meat because the flavour isn’t always great, with grass fed beef you can leave this out though I usually still add it. The slice of bright yellow plastic cheese has now also been replaced by a thick cut slice of Gorgonzola. It’s still a cheeseburger but a real cheese burger!
– 800gms grass fed beef
– 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
– 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
– 1 egg
– 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tbsp soya sauce
– salt & black pepper
Combine all the ingredients, keeping them nice and cold. Allow the mixture to stand for at least 30-minutes to allow the onion flavours to mellow. Shape 4 200g patties, these are generous patties you could go smaller, and place the patties in the fridge for a few minutes . There is no binding agent in these burgers because the meat really doesn’t need it, but if you have a big family to feed and want to add a bulking agent there is no reason not to just don’t go too crazy, about 50gms bulking for every 300gms of meat, and for every 600gms of meat / 100gms bulking add an extra egg to keep the burgers moist. If you allow the burgers to stand the starches in the bulking agent will bond nicely and make it less noticeable. I used to use fresh bread crumbs made from regular old sliced bread.
Heat a non stick frying pan with a little oil in it, once the oil is hot add the burgers. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or the burgers will broil. This is where good quality beef comes into its own, you will notice the beef does not lose water into the pan, beef that has been minced to include a certain water % may lose water if the pan is not hot enough. Cook the burgers for about 6-8 minutes per side depending on how you want them done. I like to drain any remaining oil from the pan and then fry the burger roll till golden and crispy before assembling.
A good burger must have some tomato and onion on it, I prefer oven roasted tomato to fresh tomato but that again is my personal preference. You could melt the Gorgonzola, but I prefer the cool sharp creaminess of the cheese against the heat of the burger.
This is my go to meal when I am on a mission at the gym. I use 2 burger patties and half a bread roll, loading up on huge amounts of protein without the carbs. You could leave the bread off all together, but I’d rather have a little than none.