Homemade Burgers (& Meatballs)

With the discovery of horse meat in burgers this week, I thought I'd remind myself (and others) how easy burgers are to make.  Although I should say I don't think there is anything wrong with horse meat itself, it is a reminder that processed food doesn't always contain what you (and in this case the retailer) expect.

Once you are confident with the basic burger making process (err mince - flavourings - shape - cook) just play around with different meats and flavourings.

500g beef mince
Large handful of breadcrumbs (optional - I've just realised I've forgotten it in today's batch but it does help the burgers hold together better)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Pepper & Salt

In a large mixing bowl, squidge the egg and any chosen extra flavourings (see below) and a little pepper & salt into your mince with your fingers.   Today I've gone  basic and added a quarter of a large red onion finely chopped, a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard.

With wet hands to stop the mixture sticking too much divide it into half, then divide each half into three or four.  The mince above was divided into eight as this makes a smaller burger which is more appealing to my kids.

Shape each portion into a ball then squash to about 1-2cm thick on your hand.  I've squashed my smaller burgers to about 1cm thick, but larger burgers can be thicker.

Place on a large plate or baking tray in the fridge to chill until ready.  The chilling firms up the burgers and makes them easier to turn when frying.  Half an hour chilling is good, up to all day is even better.

When ready to cook, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat.  When hot add about 1 tsp sunflower oil and fry each burger for about 4 minutes each side.  I like mine slightly blushing inside but the Food Safety course I had to take to sell food in the Country Market says you should always cook mince thoroughly.  If you want these well done find a lid for the pan, or at least try to cover the cooking burgers with a smaller lid to capture the heat and cook more inside.

We tend to serve our with pasta or mash (celeriac mash tonight to be precise) but If you want to try your hand at making soft white rolls...they are so easy.

Optional ingredients:-
  • Beef; 1 tsp french mustard,1 tsp horseradish,1 handful grated cheese,Large pinch of chilli flakes,1 tbsp chopped parsley,1 tsp thai curry paste, small onion, grated or finely chopped
  • Lamb; 1 tsp chopped mint or dried mint, large pinch chilli flakes, grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 tsp harissa paste, 
  • Chicken;1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander,1 tbsp chopped parsley, large pinch chilli flakes, grated zest of 1 lemon,1 tsp harissa paste, 1 tsp thai curry paste,
  • Pork;1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage, 1 tsp dried sage, 1 tsp thai curry paste, large pinch chilli flakes, grated zest of 1 lemon
Meatballs are essentially mini burgers before being squashed flat! Take your flavoured squidged mince and divide into 16 (divide your mince portions in to half four times).  Place the rolled meatballs on a plate or baking tray in the fridge as for burgers and fry when ready.  Once browned, push the meat balls to one side if there is space or remove to a plate, fry some chopped onion and garlic, add a tin of chopped tomatoes then return the meatballs to the sauce and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.  Use a lid of you can, if not check the tomato sauce is not reducing to much and top up with boiled water if necessary.