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Mona Farrugia's Classic Burger

Mona Farrugia shares her idea of Burger perfection, made for adults. What are yours?

 
Mona Farrugia's Classic Burger
Mona Farrugia's Classic Burger

Information

Main Ingredient Beef
Preparation Time 5-15 minutes
Cooking Time 15 mins
Course Snack
Recipe Serves 4
Recipe Type Traditional: American
Method

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.  This is the only time in my life when a semi-sweet, slightly-toasted bun is allowed into my food choices.

 

You need:

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.

 

How:

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.

Shopping Tips
Buy good meat: a good burger is not about leftovers or intensively-reared meat packed together for those who have no other idea. I buy mine from Zammeats: choose your cuts and ask them to grind it for you.
 

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