Best burgers

A hamburger might very well be the most popular . feed on the globe; at least the western part of it, anyway. Not surprising really. You get a filling feed, simply, quickly and cheaply, with a minimum of effort.

The irony is you can achieve a hugely superior product at home, simply, quickly, cheaply, with a minimum of effort. The trick with burgers is to follow a few simple rules:

  1. Don’t buy mince from your butcher. This is usually the scraps from inferior cuts of meat. If you’re observant when at the butcher’s, you will notice a couple of receptacles for leftovers from the slicing, filleting and paring. The one is for the bin, the other, more than likely, is for the mince. So the mince could be a homogenous mix of ox, lamb, pork, chicken, or whatever. In the end, after a trip through the finest grade in the mincer, it tastes like not much at all.
  2. You don’t need prime, prime cuts, but those which combine prime tenderness with prime flavour. So, for an extra special beef burger, you should go for the best cut of fillet, but with lamb, the leg will do just nicely.
  3. Make sure you have a pair of heavy, sharp knives, to reduce the meat to a burger consistency, without losing its essential flavour and identity. If you can’t face such a prospect, get your butcher to do it.

1kg of the meat of your choice — That’s about half the leg of lamb, or a portion of a leg, or half a first-grade ox fillet. For the lamb, get your butcher to bone it, remove any sinews, then cut it into cubes, and mix it with a weight of pork fat equal to one-third the weight of the cleaned lamb.

2 eggs

250g bacon, just cooked, chopped roughly

2 chillies, chopped finely

1 clove garlic, sliced finely

¼ cup soy sauce

1 bunch of strongly flavoured herb like dill or tarragon or parsley, chopped roughly

1 small piece of ginger, sliced finely

1 cup breadcrumbs 100g chopped dried apricots

2 onions, chopped and sweated in a

little oil until soft

2 cups melting cheese, grated salt black pepper a little flour


1 dessertspoon mild mustard

50g almonds, chopped

1 red pepper, skinned, seeded and chopped into tiny cubes

½ bunch of parsley, chopped roughly


You are still at the butcher’s. When the lamb (or beef) has been mixed with the fat, ask your friendly butcher to chop the mixture with a pair of heavy knives, one in each hand, until the lamb/beef pieces have been reduced to the size of peas. The fat will hold it all together.


Back home. In a large bowl, break the eggs into the meat-fat mixture, and add the bacon, chillies, garlic, soy, herbs, ginger, breadcrumbs, dried apricots, chopped onions, half the cheese, salt and black pepper. Mix first with a wooden spoon, then with your hand, bringing it all together so that any part is the same as any other part.


Form into hamburger shapes and sprinkle with flour. Set aside while heating the oven to flat out.


Rub the mustard over the top of the burgers, and sprinkle the almonds, chopped peppers and parsley over the mustard.


In a large pan which can go into the oven, heat a little oil until sizzling. Ease the burgers into the pan, one at a time, so that each sizzles. Keep them well spaced so they do not stew. As soon as the bases are firm and browned, put the tray into the oven.


Cook for 8–10 minutes, sprinkling the rest of the cheese over after about 5 minutes. The burgers should not be well done. Remember you are using premium or semi-premium cuts. They should be cooked medium-rare, the topping should have heated through, and the cheese nicely melted. The burgers taste best with a good serve of moist tomato sauce/relish, or plum sauce, not in a bun, but as an open ’sandwich’.

WINE: What happens if I recommend someone’s wine to go with hamburgers? What a backhander! But these are special hamburgers. Try a 3- to 4-year-old shiraz or hermitage (same thing) from the Hunter, central Victoria or the Barossa.