There’s been a bit of a food soapie going on in Europe over the past month. With accusations, denials, counter-accusations, foreign companies and cross-border transfers of goods not even a good corporate espionage writer could write a better story-line. Apparently meat being sold in Britain was tested by labs commissioned by a newspaper and it turned out that processed “beef” products contain traces of horse meat.
Well with South Africa always being one not to be left behind in the global race for publicity labs in South Africa over the past few weeks have been testing processed meat products sold in our retail stores and lo and behold, we’ve done better than Europe and went further by finding water buffalo, goat and donkey in our processed beef products. As you can imagine, social networks and news have been going crazy covering the story. Shouts of “I’m now a vegetarian”, “How can they feed us donkey” have been the order of the day.
For butcheries it’s actually a good thing. It’s pushed people to actually question their eating habits and begin looking into the products they buy in boxes on supermarket shelves. Although cheaper buying processed products also means you have to put your trust in some faraway company in a giant factory. I don’t know about you but I know I wouldn’t eat something made by some place I can’t actually walk into and see. With a butchery you can select your meat from the carcass and watch as the butcher turns it into the cut you require or mince meat for you.
With the world starting to realise the future lies in returning to organic and classic ways of producing food and natural products I’m actually glad that this meat scare has happened. Of course I know with time the supermarkets and their suppliers will bounce back but by then the butcheries and farmers will have built up a more loyal clientele…and that old phrase “once bitten, twice shy” will always apply to some consumers.
Onto the actual recipe! Beef burgers? For a fine-dining chef?! What am I thinking? Well, a burger is not just a burger. You get hundreds of types and just like every dish, the quality of the primary ingredients will determine the awesomeness of the final product. This isn’t your run of the mill burger and you’ll understand what I mean when you taste the final product.
Try source organic beef mince from a good butchery. It may be a bit more pricey than the supermarket stuff…but the flavour is so much better. I’ve also used mini ciabatta rolls. I love the chewy and crunchy nature of ciabatta. I’ve always found it works with juicy and soft fillings. Perfect for burgers. Drizzle the soft side of the sliced halves of ciabatta with olive oil and grill them either on a griddle pan or a hot non-stick pan
- 1kg organic minced beef
- 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
- 2 eggs
- 1 small handful of parsley, finely chopped
- 1 gherkin (pickle), finely chopped
- 1 to 2 handfuls bread crumbs (try make your own from toasted bread in a food processor)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed (toast these in a dry pan for a few minutes first to get a more aromatic and smokey flavour)
- 1/2 a teaspoon paprika
- 1 small pinch cumin seeds, crushed (toast these as well first. Don’t use cumin powder)
- 1 heaped teaspoon good quality Dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- I prefer using my hands to mix everything together. Just make sure they’re cleaned thoroughly and sanitized before hand or wear gloves. I DON’T recommend mixing this in a machine. It tends to make for a more slimey type of texture which makes burgers that aren’t juicy.
- Ensure all your ingredients are chopped or crushed beforehand as listed in the ingredients list about.
- Fry the onions off in a little butter in a pan until they become soft and translucent.
- Whisk the eggs thoroughly and with the rest of the ingredients mix everything in a large bowl until fully incorporated.
- Using the largest cookie cutter you get in a set place the cutter on a piece of plastic cling wrap and shape the burgers into round shapes on it. Push each burger out and wrap each individually in the plastic. Rest the burgers in the fridge for an hour or so.
Instead of cheddar cheese try smoked mozzarella or even gorgonzola on top of the burgers. Saute some brown mushrooms in butter and top the cheese with them (or if you’re not a fan of mushrooms, a good quality pesto will do with tomato, onions and lettuce). A slice or two of avocado and a generous dash of olive oil and some sea salt completes this awesome gourmet burger.