The Ultimate Burger. Sounds good, doesn’t it? What is your idea of the ultimate burger? Should the swagger be in the burger patty or do you think it’s the extras that should do the talking?
Me? I’m definitely in the second camp! Now don’t get me wrong, I would still like some flavour in the meat as a starting point, but that’s all it would be, a starting point, the groundwork, so to speak. Then, we build on this foundation with multiple layers of aroma, taste and texture. Just take a look at the image above and you’ll see what I’m talking about. What goes on and around the meat is what turns the plain old burger into The Ultimate Burger!
My secret ingredient here, well, ingredients in the plural, are those green and white sauces you see in the picture, 2 staples in our home. The green one is something I posted about not too long ago, Zhoug, the Yemeni Green Chilli Sauce. And the white one is plain old yoghurt flavoured with homemade za’atar, or Za’atar Yoghurt. These 2 sauces or condiments if you like, are so good together, so different in constitution; one is sharp, tangy and spicy, the other is mild, creamy and almost earthy, both, with a touch of the exotic about them. They bounce off each other with their contradictory temperaments, then come back together in a flawless mating of sensations, with every single bite of juicy meat, crunchy and fresh onions, sweet tomatoes and creamy cheese!
How to make The Ultimate Burger, the LinsFood way!
Here, I’m using and talking about beef, but of course you could use any meat you like. So let’s talk about the best type of meat you need for a burger. If you have a butcher near you, just tell him what it’s for and you should be fine! Basically, we are looking for a cut (if you’re planning to grind it yourself) or ready mince that has about 20% fat. While it is healthier to use meat with less fat, and I do that for most other recipes, the best burgers need that fat to be moist, tender and juicy. Anything less and you’ll end up with dry burgers, especially if you are a fan of well done.
Whatever your heart desires – wholemeal, plain white, seeded, brioche, even pita. I love buttering the burger bun then lightly charring it on the bbq, under the grill (broiler) or in the frying pan, before filling.
The usual suspects when it comes to vegetables – salad leaves, tomatoes, and onion rings. Cress is always good too.
Cheese – a burger isn’t complete without cheese, as far as I’m concerned! Take your pick here, for me, nothing beats a good old cheddar.
Zhoug is a hot chilli sauce from Yemen, that I call the Middle eastern pesto. It’s HOT, vibrantly green and is wonderfully piquant. Adds a lovely tangy flavour to the burger, as well as spice of course. Takes 8 minutes to make at home, recipe here.
While Za’atar is also the generic name for certain herbs like wild thyme (Za’atar is thyme in Arabic), oregano and bible hyssop, the term itself is more commonly used to refer to a particular Middle Eastern spice mix. It’s a wonderfully aromatic spice mix that is extremely addictive, made with easy to find ingredients. Sumac is the only “exotic” one that you can easily substitute with lemon juice or lemon peel. Recipe here.
- 500g/just over 1 lb minced beef (20% fat)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small handful flat leaf parsley (curly is fine too)
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- half tsp sumac (or a 1 tsp lemon juice)
- half tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Quarter the onion and place it in a chopper.
- Add the garlic and parsley and chop it to a fine blend, with no water added.
- Now place all the burger ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
- Form into 4 burger patties and place in the fridge while you get the vegetables ready.
- Slice the tomatoes into rounds.
- Slice the onions into rings.
- Cook the burgers the way you want to, on the barbecue, under the grill (broiler) or on the stove top.
On the barbecue or under the grill
- Lightly oil the top and bottom of the burger and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side for medium, 3-4 for well done.
On the stove top
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat.
- Cook the burgers for about 2-3 minutes on each side for medium, 3-4 for well done.
- The burger can be packed in any order you like.
- My way: lettuce, onion rings, tomatoes, burger, zhug, za’atar yoghurt, cheese.
- Serving Size: 4