For many, the humble burger can evoke many fond memories and can deservedly be considered a truly lip smacking pleasure. It can also be one hell of a disappointment. At one end of the spectrum – and the popularity for Gourmet burger chains or gastopubs trying to offer something worthy of an often hefty price tag is hard to miss – the other, a flaccid, insipid grey thin patty drowned in condiments and wrapped in a overly sweet and sweaty bun – yes Golden Arches – I am talking about you!
Prior to the popularity of the gourmet burger, my consumption of a burger was largely reserved to the annual barbecue I might attend – frequency dependent on the UK’s inclement weather. Whilst a barbecue done well can be a culinary delight, those I have predominantly attended seem to be a forum to allow alpha males to impress guests with their command of fire and meat – results have always been mixed. The ‘chef’ will invariable never step foot in a kitchen for the majority of a year and even so, are more a master of the microwave than any other kitchen appliance. After the great fanfare that is trying to understand how to light charcoal briquettes (and whilst dousing the fire with inflammable liquid may provide budding pyromaniacs with some theatrical distraction), the end result can commonly range between salmonella and burnt to a cinder – with little in between. You should get the impression, I am not the greatest fan.
Years ago, I begged my parents to get a barbecue, promising to use it and cook for them all the time. From memory, there were many aborted attempts – thank you UK weather! – and whilst no stomach wrenching disaster to speak of – I was largely deterred by the mandatory clean up operation. Scraping the burnt fat and whatever else from a grill has to be one of the worst parts of the overall experience – so much so ours ended up gathering rust in the corner of the garage and ended up in the skip. Every so often, I am tempted by the idea of trying again – the fact that I have no outdoor storage at home is the ideal reason not live the gas fired barbecue dream. My solution? An induction hob and quality griddle pan which is a doddle to clean and is dishwasher safe.
The reason why I entered the burger making ‘zone’ was entirely thanks to Marlini. The choice of good quality Halal meat is very limited, and by chance we managed to find some really good quality Halal patties. I have also made patties from scratch using quality organic mince – the result was really good. The next step was to work on the overall combination of complimentary ingredients and if took several iterations to get to today’s recipe. We experimented with different types of bread, tomatoes, cheese – and on that note were really happy to discover Fol Epi cheese from France – Emmental style from the Loire Valley which boasts and excellent texture and mild nutty taste. It also melts perfectly and will mold itself around a hot burger patty. Initially, I was trying to find the largest beef tomatoes going so that I’d have a single large slice – maybe it was just bad luck, but the larger to tomatoes I could find, the woollier the texture and less the taste. I ended up using a smaller vine ripened tomato, and what a difference. To the horror of many, you’ll see small green gherkins precariously balanced on top of the burger. I use cornichons – made with mini-gherkin cucumbers. They are crisp in texture and a far cry from the sloppy and soggy textured Gherkin which is favoured by the mass production burger ‘restaurants’ out there. If your experience has only ever been plucking out some sloppy green matter from a bun, give these little guys a chance. I’d like to think you will not regret it.
Finally, I was at a loss of what to call this recipe. It combines griddled red and white onions, burger patty, Portobello mushroom, Fol Epi Cheese, vine ripened tomatoes, cornichons, and Dijon mustard – all wrapped in a soft toasted Brioche bun. For better or worse, I thought Burger Me Senseless would be a fitting title. The next time your are pontificating over a gourmet burger and perhaps don’t want to be £10-£15 worse off for it, why not give it a go at home?
Apologies in advance for my below-par photographic efforts – as I did not want these burgers to go cold, I snapped them quickly using my trusted Microsoft Lumia camera phone.
- 2 x soft brioche buns, cut in halves
- 2 x 4-6 oz minced beef patties
- 1 x medium red onion, sliced
- 1 x medium white onion, sliced
- 1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced
- 2 x medium vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
- 2 x slices Fol Epi Cheese
- 4 small cornichons, sliced
- 2 x tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 x tbsp olive oil
- freshly milled sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat up a griddle pan to a medium high heat.
- Add the four halves of the brioche bun onto the griddle pan, with the centre facing downwards. Griddle for 2-3 minutes, or until griddle marks start to form. Set aside and place on a wire rack to stop the buns going soggy.
- Slightly turn down the heat, and carefully pour in the olive oil. Add the slices of red and white onion, season with a little sea salt and freshly milled black pepper, and sweat down the onions until soft. If space (and if not cook in a separate batch) add the sliced Portobello mushrooms. Season lightly and griddle for 3-5 minutes, until they have reduced in size and softened.
- Transfer onions and mushrooms to a plate and set aside. Increase the heat of the griddle pan to a high setting (8/9 on my induction hob).
- Season lightly the minced beef patties and add to the griddle pan. Griddle for 4 mins and occasionally press down gently with a suitable utensil, then carefully turn over. Griddle the other side for a further 4 minutes or so. Flip the burger over one more time, then place the slice of Fol Epi cheese until it starts to melt.
- Take the bottom of the toasted brioche bun, and add the red and white onions.
- Next, place the burger patty on top of the onions. Layer on top the Portobello mushrooms, vine-ripened tomato, and finish with the slices of cornichons.
- Finally, spread a thin layer of the Dijon mustard on the underside of the top of the brioche, and place on top.