Sometimes you just want a burger, and if you’re anything like me; once that thought enters your head, nothing else will suffice. For me a burger always has to be juicy, on a soft toasted roll, with cheese, and the juice should run down my chin, so I look gross but happy! Yes!
For once it has been sunny in London, resulting in rising numbers of barbeque occasions, so I felt it was time to get involved and make a perfect hamburger. And this is it. The recipe comes from the unbeatable Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. I have always been a massive fan; her recipes were the first I ever made (after Peppermint Creams from one of the Dorling Kindersley children’s cookbook, those where the days!) and she has never, ever failed me. When the time came for burgers, I searched her name plus ‘burgers’ and found this recipe. And she didn’t disappoint. Not at all. The first bite got a moan, the second a smile and the last a feeling of deep satisfaction and a belly rub.
She uses full fat minced beef as the fat really does add a lot of flavour, and, let’s face it, if you are going down the burger line you are not thinking of your thighs in the first place. One last little, tiny and insignificant thing is you also add a sliver of butter to the centre of each burger. Sorry did I not mention that? Yes, add some fat to fat. It’s worth it. It creates the most dreamy, moist burger imaginable.
I made a slight change to Ina’s original recipe as I used normal full fat ground/minced beef rather than “ground chuck” and “ground sirloin”, because when I asked the butcher for ground sirloin he looked at me like I was mad and was dismayed at the idea of mincing sirloin, which I had to agree with. I would, however, advise going to a local butcher and buying good quality mince as; A. you can taste the difference and, B. you can cook it until it’s nice and pink in the middle (medium rare- how I like it) without worrying if it will revisit you the same evening.
To top this perfect burger, I made the ‘bacon onion balsamic jam’ from an Annie’s Eats recipe. I made this “jam” last year at a barbeque where I also spent hours/days/weeks making two types of burgers, buttermilk chicken, salads and four flavours of ice cream with sauces etc. etc. and I’m pretty sure the only thing anyone remembers is this jam. That’s barbeque focus groups for you! I have tripled the ingredients to make enough for the 12 burgers (original was for 4 burgers) feel free to cut down according to your burger quantities, but I would suggest making more than you need and freezing the rest for any boring weeknight meals that would benefit from being jazzed!
Makes 12 burgers
12 thick slices of smoked back or streaky bacon
3 large red onions
240ml balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
6 lbs or 2721g full fat minced beef
3 tablespoons steak sauce (I used French’s Classic Steak Sauce)
6 extra-large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
60g cold unsalted butter
12 hamburger buns
To make the jam, chop the bacon into ½ inch pieces and thinly slice the onions. Add the bacon to a large frying pan on a medium heat and cook until lightly browned but not crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate covered in kitchen roll to drain. Remove some of the bacon fat from the pan (leaving about 6 tablespoons), add the onions and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Uncover and add a splash of water, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift any browned bits on the bottom. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are cooked through and beginning to brown.
Uncover and add the vinegar, water, mustard and cooked bacon, stir together and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, until it has thickened and most of the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 5 minutes. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool, ready to top the burgers.
To make the burgers; in a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together with a fork, trying not to mash it. Divide the mixture into twelve equal portions and form each into a ball. Take a thin slice of the butter and press it into the ball creating an indentation and form the meat around the butter into a burger patty, making sure none of the butter shows.
To cook the burgers you can either use a barbeque, griddle pan or frying pan. If you want to toast your buns, brush the griddle/frying pan with a light coating of oil and fry until brown (just put strait onto the barbeque if using) and put to the side ready for the burger. Place the burgers straight onto the hot pan/barbeque and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side (depending on how pink you like them). Once cooked place in the toasted buns and top with cheese and the jam. Tuck in and let the juice run down your chin so you look gross.