I have made a lot of burgers in my life, because they’re one of the most delicious things you can do with mince, and I’ve been a student for basically the whole time I’ve been a cook. For many, many years, my favourite burger of all time has been an adapted version of the Tigers & Strawberries Bulgogi Burger, a beautiful burger that’s been popular among my friends and is specially good because you can serve it without buns. As, again, a student, I learned from my extremely thrifty flatmate Lucy that special meal ingredients, the kind of thing that you pop into Pak’n’Slave to get on the way home, are the fastest way to break the budget – so that recipe has served me faithfully and well. But last week my dad and I made burgers and they were, in my opinion, even better.
This meal definitely bears the influence of the bulgogi burgers – especially in the spuds – but in other ways is definitely symptomatic of my family’s chuck-it-in-there-and-see-how-it-tastes food philosophy, with bits and pieces from all kinds of recipes – so obviously, I had to call them Some Assembly Required Burgers.
Serves 4-6. Ingredients in order of recommended preparation.
6 large roasting-variety potatoes, washed but not peeled
Chili flakes to taste
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Fresh basil and parsley, shredded
2-3 large beetroot
500g beef mince (ground beef, in the USian. NZers, I think the 500g packs of Angus Pure are a really good deal, especially at New World where mince doesn’t get cheaper than that anyway. Pak’n’Slave store packed is probably cheaper tho.)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, diced
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1-2 eggs (I used 2 and they were, ok, a little sticky)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
A tablespoon or so grated ginger. Protip from my mother: Keep it in the freezer, peel & grate when you want it
Salt & pepper
Fresh rosemary to taste, diced
1 T soy sauce
Lettuce and other salad greens
Spring onions, diced
Tomatoes, diced or sliced
Whatever else you like in your salad
Vinaigrette – optional
Burger buns – we bought them tonight, but if I plan ahead/have tonnes of time I like these light brioche burger buns.
Condiments, i.e. mayonnaise, tomato sauce, cheese slices for whiny sisters, fried eggs for whiny brothers, malt vinegar for whiny fathers, mustard for whiny brothers, butter for whiny fathers, after this point I would (& did) say if they want anything else they can shut up and make it themselves. I mean, I’m cooking here!
1. Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Slice the potatoes smallish, toss with olive oil, a shake of chili flakes (don’t overdo these, a little goes a long way especially if you have a fussy sister) and sea salt, shake them out into a try (I recommend lining with baking paper if you don’t want them to stick like mine do, I just hate the waste/don’t mind sloppy presentation. When they’ve been cooking for 20-30 minutes, toss in the garlic. When they’re about 10 minutes from being done – they should take around 50 minutes all up – toss over the shredded parsley and basil.
2. Prepare the beetroot by slicing off the leaves to leave very short stalks, and slicing off most of the beardy stuff at the bottom. Don’t peel them. Boil them for 40 minutes. If you got the beetroot out of the garden/they came with tops, preserve some of the beet tops for your salad!
3. Chuck all of the burger ingredients in a bowl and mush them up with your hands (WASH FIRST). This is kind of yucky and kind of fun! Cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge until you need them.
4. You probably have time to make your salad now. I gave ingredients up top but like, you could pretty much do whatever you want. Or you could just shred the lettuce and slice the tomatoes. Or coleslaw would be really good too (COLESLAW: shred a bunch of cabbage, grate a couple carrots, a couple apples, and some cheese, maybe toss in some raisins, put on a vinaigrette, DONE. Look, I know you probably know how to do that, but once upon a time I made a coleslaw in front of a friend and she was like “whoa that tastes really good”. Coleslaw is easy and cheap, you can have it in your life too!)
Sidebar on vinaigrette
Vinaigrette is one of those things that everybody makes completely differently but it tastes delicious. I like two parts olive oil, 1.5 parts balsamic vinegar, a heaped teaspoon of seeded mustard (or hell, sometimes dijon if I’m desperate), a crushed minced garlic clove, salt, pepper. And a little honey if it’s a spinach salad and whisk it all with a fork to emulsify. Other people skip the mustard, or the garlic, or they use red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of balsamic, or they use avocado oil. In my really really studenty days, I have made vinaigrette with malt vinegar, I don’t really recommend that though. You should play around and try to figure out what you like. Learn it, though, because it is SO much cheaper to make this than to buy it. Also I guess you can put a creamy or mayoy dressing on your salad or coleslaw but please do not tell me about it. Anyway, chuck the dressing on just before you serve, to keep your salad fresh and crisp.
5. Put the salad on the table, put the dressing beside it, and forget about it (yay!) Shape burger patties according to how many people you’re feeding and then fry/barbeque/grill (broiling in the USian). I grilled because I like grilling things but usually people would fry them (you only need to grease the pan a little, and about 5 minutes on either side depending on how thick your patties are) or barbeque them on the flat plate.
6. While the patties are cooking, take the beetroot off the heat and flush with cold water. Peel them – this is really easy: you just push the skin off with your fingers. Then it’s sort of like you’re holding a warm, bleeding organ in your hands, so feel free to do the Stefan Salvatore Dance of I Just Ripped Your Heart Out. Slice the beetroot and plate it. Also take the potatoes out and plate them, put them on the table and cover them with at teatowel and forget about them (yay!)
7. At this point you could toast your buns if you can be bothered, but I never can, especially if they’re fresh. Put everything on the table. Assemble your burger: Bottom bun, swirl of mayo, swirl of tomato sauce, burger, cheese slice if applicable, salad, beetroot, top bun. Potatoes on the side.
8. Nom that burger good! Now have another. You’re welcome.