The point with most cooking (with the exception of making cakes & pastries, which are more of an exact science than an art) is that you should be able to look in your fridge and choose your favourite suitable ingredients to add into the mix. There is no exacting, there should be no rigidity! My personal passion for cooking was born simply out of being allowed to mess about in the kitchen when i was a kid... I found it fun and it has since proved to become an enjoyable creative outlet. I really struggle to understand people who just dont have the patience to cook! I think that perhaps, somewhere along the line, they put too much pressure on themselves and suddenly it all comes undone at the seams. The key for those who arent that confident, is to practice alone, without any pressure of having to dish up to the hungry masses and that way you find a few dishes that you do confidently and they become part of your own personal repertoire.
So, how do you make a quick and simple burger? My take on it is that you simply take 500g of good quality minced beef, 1 small onion (whizzed in a processor until minced, but not so much that it starts to become slushy), teaspoon of garlic granules, 1 teaspoon of normal paprika (not the fancy Spanish smoked variety) 3 generous pinches of Maldon sea salt, crushed and sprinkled in along with a generous seasoning of black pepper.and your done! Put all ingredients straight into a bowl and mix it thoroughly with your bare hands, really kneading the mixture with your fist, so that every ingredient is thoroughly blended in. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions (or 3, if you want to portion up like me) and roll them into tennis-sized balls until they feel smooth and simply pat them down, quite gently, until they are still no less than 1.5 inches thick... and fry them on a medium heat until done. DO NOT keep flipping them over... Just leave them in the pan and turn them once only. The cooking process should take no more than 10-15 mins depending on how well cooked you like them. If you like them really well done, then lower the heat to avoid burning the outside and leaving the inside raw. I serve my burgers with sweet potato wedges, which are basically sweet potatoes, peeled and then cut into chunky wedges, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned generously with Maldon sea salt and baked in the oven at 200 degrees for about 25-30 mins until nice and brown on the edges. They are a superb accompaniment for your burger, which i gently nestle into a nice crusty white roll (in my opinion, the only way to eat a burger)and add a teaspoon of mayonnaise and a generous dollop of ketchup to and its ready to devour!!!
Tonight's batch (pictured inset) i had a few ingredients left over from a Thai meal i'd made and so i added a green chilli, a handful of fresh coriander and 2 spring onions, which were then whizzed in the processor along with the basic onion recipe and then blended with the meat as usual. I served it with a tomato and chilli chutney instead of ketchup. The result? A burger packed with fresh, aromatic flavours similar to those of Indian 'Sheek' kebabs... which when paired with a nice sweet chutney, proved to be a marriage made in heaven. Surprise, surprise... there wasn't a single scrap left on my plate! Now THAT'S what you call fast food! Quick to make, quick to disappear! Sometimes when i'm feeling fruity, i add a teaspoon of the Spanish smoked sweet paprika, which gives a real smoky BBQ flavour to it and i top the burgers with crispy bacon (always streaky, never back bacon) and a squirt of good BBQ sauce and a few sliced raw onions.
I have made my burgers everywhere from Lausanne to Los Angeles and they have proved incredibly popular, which does baffles me somewhat because they are so simple! Try them for yourself and dont be afraid to vary the mixture by using different herbs and seasonings to suit your own personal taste, because there is really very little that can go wrong here, just as long as you exercise a little moderation. Simplicity is key... Remember that. Although i emplore you... Don't add an egg and don't add breadcrumbs, this is a nonsensical bastardisation of a perfectly good burger recipe and thus totally unecessary! "Don't fix what ain't broke"... Ahhh, the beauty of simplicity!