The Essential Rules for Burgers


Back in the early days of this blog, I posted a recipe for burgers– simple stuff, but with a great result (indeed, as I was focused on the business of eating the things, the picture is recycled from last October’s article!). I now make a variety of burgers- basic stuff, lovely quick dinner, and I’ll stick the essential recipe info at the bottom- there are a few simple things, one of which I only found out this week, that should ensure your burgers are perfect every time (okay, nine times out of ten. We’re only human!)

As a complement to this article, I’ll be sticking up a quick and easy recipe for a red pepper relish later today- it’s all of the good things.

If it’s neat, it’s crap

The more you handle the meat, the more tightly packed it’s going to become, and you’ll have a tough, disappointing burger. Once you’ve mixed in any seasonings, grab a ball, place it on the chopping board, and push it down flat, but loose. It’ll look scruffy, but taste ten times better.

You get what you pay for

If you buy some cheap ass, blue stripe* mince, you’ll come out with a cheap ass, blue stripe burger. The best burger I’ve made contained salt, pepper, a pinch of fresh parsley, and an egg yolk. It would have been fine completely unseasoned, because the meat was good stuff, matured for three weeks, from a local farm. I used the same recipe a week later, using cheap mince (IT WAS A FEW DAYS FROM PAYDAY AND I WAS SKINT). It was awful.


Probably the most important thing in this article- for years, I was frustrated by the fact my nice, flat burger patties would curl and swell into non burger shapes when they hit the pan. The answer- push a dimple into the middle of each burger, about 1/2cm deep. It will never be a problem again!

Wait for the salt

With thanks to The Kitchn, a great food website- salt starts reacting with the moisture and breaking down the proteins in the meat as soon as it makes contact. Mix all the other ingredients in as you make it up, but salt your burger just before you throw it in the pan. The meat will be a lot more tender for it.

Fuck healthy eating

Not all the time, obviously, but you’re eating a burger, not a quinoa and acai salad. There’s a time and a place, and burgers aren’t a time to be worrying about being beach ready. They’re already healthier than they would be- you’re not going to stick MSG in it, or some dehydrated horseshit extract that preserves it for three days longer. So stop messing around. Use proper mince, with a proper fat content, because people want a juicy burger. That’s a phrase. Nobody asks for a dry crumbly burger, because nobody is naturally a complete moron. Rant over. 20% fat content is about right.


Are you serving it on a chopping board?

If so, never darken my doors again, you gastropub git.

And finally, 2 burger recipes…

I’m assuming you’ve worked out to mix all the mince and ingredients together in a bowl, make patties and chuck in a grill pan till cooked is the entirety of the cooking instructions, so here are two ingredient lists for great burgers.

Basic Beefburger

Makes 4 good sized burgers

  • 500g beef mince
  • An egg yolk
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Pepper
  • Salt (but not till just before you cook it!)

Minted Lamb and Tahini burger

As above…

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 tbsp. tahini**
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • A good handful of chopped fresh mint
  • An egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper

Well, I hope this fulfils a fast food craving for you! I’m done!


* With apologies to overseas readers. The British supermarket, Tesco, had a value range, marked out by blue striped packaging. This became synonymous with cheap and nasty food. Having said that, their blue stripe bread (9p), tinned tomatoes (14p), instant noodles (8 for £1) and pasta (49p) pretty much prevented my death from starvation when I moved away from home in my late teens!

Banksy, channeling Andy Warhol. He’s probably saying something meaningful about expectations and junk.

** You can buy this in a jar from healthy shops for about £3. Or… you can by a bag of sunflower seeds, stick them in a spice grinder or blender with some olive oil and whiz them up till they make a paste for about 80p, stick it in a jar, and sell it to idiots at a 375% mark up.


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