Mona Farrugia's Classic Burger
Mona Farrugia shares her idea of Burger perfection, made for adults. What are yours?
Some burger dos and donts:
- Nobody will ever agree what makes a perfect burger, which makes it all fun. Try this article from The New York Times, which spans a full five pages or this review of making Heston Blumenthal's burger on Serious Eats
- The most celebrated burger in London is Daniel Bouloud's at the Mandarin Oriental. It's called The Piggy and AA Gill rated it a full five stars. I haven't tried it yet but with its melange of ingredients, I can't wait
- Whatever you do, never ever 'grind' your meat in a processor. Ask your butcher to pass it through his mincer, twice, for perfect aeration and texture.
- Rubbish in, rubbish out: do not expect to use cheap, frozen meat and get a fabulous burger out of it.
- My favourite 'easygoing' burger is in London at Byron Burgers which I have reviewed here
- I am rather partial to the gherkin, finding that it gives just the right addition of sour and salt
- The lettuce needs to be the real thing. Remember what a local fresh lettuce leaf looks like? Well, it's certainly not a bleedin' frisee that's for sure.
- Use real, fresh, black peppercorns and grind them fresh. Good meat needs a good kick.
- Use real, fresh, red beefsteak local tomatoes. Cut across to get lovely, large disks.
- There is no ketchup like Heinz. I really cannot see the point in making my own ketchup if Heinz have been doing it brilliantly for me.
- The trick is in the mix of rump and sirloin and this has something to do with the fibres of the meat. I go for a Scottish or a Charolais cut of meat.
- The whole idea of a burger is that you can lift it with both hands and bite in: so no fancy bread, no hard crusts, no ciabattas for God's sake.Â This is the only time in my life when a semi-sweet, slightly-toasted bun is allowed into my food choices.
500 g rump, minced
500g sirloin, minced
Good sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil for frying
3 lettuce leaves
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, firm and ripened on the vine
2 gherkins cut in slices lengthwise
Onions - fried or raw as you like them.
Mix the mince, add a good dose of pepper and a couple of large pinchfuls of salt. Mix with the egg.
Fashion a very large sausage out of this and chill.
'Cut' through with a large knife so that you have thick disks. I don't like massively thick burgers and if you check how they do them at all the best places, the burger can actually fit into your mouth.
Rest on a large plastic tray in the fridge for around 15 minutes.
Fry on a medium-high heat, on a bog-standard frying pan. Whatever you do, do not press the burger down and push all the juices out.
I like a crispy outer and a rare inside but if you prefer your burger cooked to medium then leave it on a little longer. When you see the outside darkening all over, flip it over gently.
When ready, place on to a heated plate.
Quickly 'fry' the buns, flat side down on the remaining juices, until heated and browned on the edges.
Pile the ingredients on the bun: burger first, then the lettuce in hand-shredded pieces, the tomato, the ketchup and the gherkin. The question of onions is very much a personal one: I do not like them raw, finding them too harsh, but if you do, then make sure to slice very finely. If you like them cooked, I suggest you cook them in the same frying pan after the meat (adding some more oil) and before you heat the bread.
It's the same thing with mustard: to use or not to use? If yes, smear some directly on the patty.
If I'm going to make it a cheeseburger (which I always do as I adore cheese) I choose a Comte (from Zammeats Deli at Arkadia), shredded and piled on to the meat, popped under a hot grill until melted, and then add the other ingredients so that they remain fresh and crispy.
Hold it all together with a toothpick.
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