Friday, August 13, 2004

Beautiful Beef Burger

When I was on holidays in Cairns last year, I ate out with my hosts quite a lot. Often I found the most uncomplicated thing on a restaurant or cafe menu was the beef burger. Having become an expert in making beef burgers myself, I frequently chose the beef burger, convinced that the restaurant version would be as tasty and healthy as my own. Instead I was shocked at how many times I was presented with a catering disaster that wasn't fit to feed my dog.

Time after time, burgers came out with oversized, under toasted buns, tough and tastless buns. Sandwiched between the two bits of miserable bun was a rissole - not a burger - made of poor quality (dare I say porky-tasting) beef which sat two inches high, yet failed to reach the edges of the bread. If I asked for cheese on the burger, more often than not I got a greasy piece of tasty cheese caked onto either the top or the bottom of the bun, smeared with tomato sauce, or plastered to a piece of limp lettuce.

Shameful! And I said so every time I was confronted by such a monstrosity. It is not hard to make a great burger. And now I'm going to tell you exactly how.

1 hamburger bun
125g lean beef mince
1/2 brown onion, thinly sliced
BBQ sauce - as much as you want
1 slice Kraft cheddar cheese (or Bega Superslims for a low fat option)
three slices ripe red tomato
three slices of beetroot
one large lettuce leaf, broken into bun-sized pieces

1. Slice hamburger bun in half and set aside.

2. Take beef mince in palm of hand and stand over your kitchen sink. Squeeze the beef together, shaping it into a sphere. Continue squeezing it together (some juice may run out which is why you're standing over your kitchen sink), then pat it down with the palm on your hand, reshaping it into a rough round where cracks form at the edge. Flatten it to roughly the same size as your bun. Place in a preheated fry pan, sprayed with olive oil spray.

3. Flatten burger further with an egg lifter. Allow to cook for two minutes then flip. Flatten with egg lifter again, then DO NOT TOUCH AGAIN. Cook for a further two minutes or until well browned on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

4. Add onions to frypan. Sprinkle with a little water to accelerate cooking process. This will also help lift the beef juices from the bottom of the pan, adding vital flavour to your onions. Cook until brown and tender.

5. While onions are cooking, toast both sides of both pieces of your bun. Do not over toast!

6. Squirt BBQ sauce onto bottom piece of bun. Place beef burger on bun. Pile onions on top of beef burger then add more sauce (if you like!). Cover with slice of processed cheese. You can slide back under the grill at this stage if you want your cheese very melted. Otherwise just let the heat from the burger to the work.

7. Transfer semi-assembled burger to serving plate. Layer tomato pieces over cheese, then balance beetroot pieces on top of tomato. Finally, add lettuce leaf pieces, cover with bun top.

8. Now eat!

Notes: I know many people think processed cheese is sacrilege, and in many ways I agree. But it honestly is the best cheese for burgers because of the way it melts. Also note there's nothing added to the beef mince to bind it together. No egg, no bread crumbs and definitely no grated carrot (revolting!). If you do the squishing process properly, you don't need any binding agents. Besides, if you've bought good beef, why spoil its beautiful flavour? I promise you this will be the best beef burger you've tasted in your life! What's more, it's seriously low in fat, so I say boycott the mass burger chain, and start making your own - as often as you like!

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