How to make a perfect burger. And how not to make a burger.

To make the best burger, Delia Smith says it has to be 20% fat. John Torode says 40% fat. Heston Blumenthal’s epic burger recipe has a formula of 2:1:1 of chuck, short rib and brisket.

Donna Hay put this in her burger recipe: mince, garlic, tomato paste, sauce, parsley, salt and pepper.  Jamie Oliver’s burger recipe suggests adding 12 cream crackers, parsley and an egg to minced beef.

No one suggests a dash of horse meat.

A burger with oyster sauce - surf and turf

We thought we’d try a few different ways to make a proper burger.

Tim’s a bit of a purist when it comes to burgers. Actually, he a bit of a purist concerning lots of food. So his first method contains 100% meat. Well, meat and fat. He used one lean cut, one fattier, and some fat.

three ingredients for the burger

Three ingredients, meat, meat and fat

He recently found this brilliant beast of a machine, to hand-mince the meat. A food processor could overwork the meat making it sausage-meat like.

The Beat - a hand mincing machine for burgers

The Beast in all its guises

The Beast minces the meat for the burger

The Beast does its work

After mincing the meats and fat, he laid the meat out and seasoned it. Then he fried a little sample to check the seasoning. He formed the beef into patties using an earthenware tapas dish, which produced a nice round 190g patty.

Three burger patties

Three burger patties

For the first burger he topped it simply and traditionally with a grated cheddar – Montgomery is a good strong traditional one. He browned it under the grill, before adding the bun ‘lid’.

A cheese burger with Montgomery cheddar.

A cheese burger with Montgomery cheddar.

For a second version Tim went for a ‘surf and turf’ effect, making an oyster sauce.

A burger with oyster sauce - surf and turf

Burger with oyster sauce – surf and turf

Another topping variant was bacon and celeriac slaw.

Burger with bacon and celeriac slaw

The burgers were good, but for me, I felt they were a bit dense. So we did another version, adding finely chopped onion, a couple of spoons of  breadcrumbs and an egg to bind it. The egg actually made the mixture fall apart, so we added a touch more breadcrumbs until it held together again.

Whichever way you prefer your burgers, homemade is definitely best, particularly now we have all these Unidentified Frozen Objects around.

How not to make a great burger:

Larry Goodman of ABP Food Group, which owns Silvercrest Foods, said, “DNA will pick up molecules and something in the air.” If it’s the case that horse DNA floats around in the air, why haven’t more horses been mistakenly convicted of violent crimes and ram-raiding jewellers?

Paul Walker of Iceland, who’s the spitting image of the bloke that runs the hilarious and disastrous ‘The Hotel’ on TV  (and inspires just about as much confidence) said,  “OK, you can say we haven’t been testing for horse – well, why would we? We don’t test for hedgehog either.” He clearly didn’t give a flying horse about the issue.

I’m shocked that a massive supermarket doesn’t look into who they deal with a little more carefully. A quick google shows that one of the Irish meat suppliers they use has been previously caught out for less than squeaky clean activities.  They’ve been found out using illegal growth hormones in their cattle more than once, prosecuted numerous times for polluting the environment, and fined for evading tax on several occasions.


17 thoughts on “How to make a perfect burger. And how not to make a burger.

    • Check the display settings (bottom right after you hit ‘Add media’. They should be set to full size or large. The only other thing I can think of is that your originals are smaller. Hope this helps.

      • Thanks, I’ve sorted it temporarily, by sending the pics back to iphone to reprocess through an app that outputs large pics. But still don’t understand why blog shrank my pics. Sigh.

  1. You are right that the Irish company appears to have been up to no good. Mr. Goodman has history, as they say. However, it was the Irish regulator who exposed it. Only after that have British, French, Icelandic, Italian, German, Polish and companies from sundry other countries been exposed. I plan to post a burger myself next Tuesday, in an effort to show how we can produce the best in the world.
    As long as the supermarkets are pressuring suppliers for bargain basement prices, most involved in the profit chain will break the rules either by commission or omission. I’m glad know my butcher!

    • I look forward to comparing burgers! What I find interesting about all this dodgy meat scenario is that people are positioning it as farmers being pushed to the wire, and people having no money to spend on food. But look at the massive profits these meat producers are making – it’s all about greed.

    • Hi Roger, I think this particular beast is called an Alpha 32. It needs screwing down to a surface – holding it down was a bit of a mission. My mum used to make a a meat pie on mondays, using the leftover meat (usually lamb) from Sunday lunch. It was my favourite meal of the week. Her mincer was smaller and had a useful clamp to attach it to the table.

  2. Ok the hamburgers are yum but that Beast of a Mincer. i am DEEPLY envious. I simply must have one. i love anything that is hand cranked like that.. anyway to the hamburgers, we add fresh green herbs, pepper and salt and a bit of butter, the lean beef i grow on the farm is very lean (thats why i grow it!) so the butter helps lighten it.. now i am off to amazon to look for a grinder for me, maybe a smaller one like your mums, my grandma had one too.. where do these treasures go! c

  3. For me I go for a good beef mince meat, egg just one or two, garlic, rosemary & thyme good bit of salt and some pepper. monterey jack cheese, crisp stricky bacon & a tiger bread bun or brioche bread bun

  4. Do these 40% fat wallahs want to kill us? As someone who has severe cardio-valscular problems I search out meat with the least possible fat content. Also, being on a salt-free diet, my seasonings are restricted to peppers and other spices. Even made-up mustards like Colmans and Dijon have salt in them. I agree in an ideal world I should cook everything from scratch and never buy prepared foods, but unfortunately, low energy levels don’t always give me that option.

    I love your remarks about horse DNA

    Thank you for following my blog.

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