Even if the sun is only coming out now and again, the lifting of restrictions means many of us will be thinking it’s barbecue time. And while it may be easy to get overexcited and just sling a bunch of supermarket burgers on the grill, a special occasion like this calls for a bit of an effort. Here are 10 recipes for homemade burgers. My suggestion is that you try them all.
The perfect burger
A quick warning before we start: this list features the “double Cloake”. If you’re new to making any type of food, the place to start is always Felicity Cloake’s “perfect” series. Her hamburger recipe is all the proof you should need. She has done the work here, so even the slightly more outre additions (ie Guinness) make perfect sense.
Vegan bean burger
Cloake part two is her recipe for vegan bean burgers. Like all vegan burgers, this requires a lot more ingredients than a meat-based burger – potato, broad beans, black beans, onion, garlic, coriander seeds, coriander leaves – but the effort pays off. Also pay attention to the burger sauce here, which is thickened with exactly 12 cooked chickpeas.
Quince pork burger
And now, to class things up a bit, here’s Nigel Slater with a quince pork burger. It is, as you’d expect, a pork burger flavoured with sweetly sharp quince paste. Slater calls this “a ravishingly good little burger”. He also advocates frying the onion off a little before adding it to the meat, and I concur. If you want your friends to think that you have become really fancy over lockdown, this is the burger to serve.
People declare the tall burger dead all the time, and yet it clings on to life. So, for the last time: stop making tall burgers. Thin burgers taste better and have a much more pleasant texture. More importantly, you can eat them without looking like a snake eating an egg. Look at Bon Appétit’s smash burger recipe. It’s just seasoned beef that gets smashed down on the griddle with a spatula while it cooks. And it’s ready in three minutes.
Vegan ‘In & Out’ burger
As a vegan alternative, here’s Avant Garde Vegan’s plant-based ‘In & Out burger’. Again, this requires a ton of ingredients – this time black beans, miso paste, Marmite, wheat gluten, soy sauce – and they have to be steamed for an hour and then cooled before you can grill them. But it’s worth it because these are pretty flipping close to the real thing.
Vietnamese bun cha
Now, let’s explore the outer reaches of the burger world together. A 2013 Guardian-readers’ recipe-swap article threw up a beautiful salty/sweet Vietnamese bun cha recipe. The pork patties contain chicken stock powder, fish sauce and actual caramel, but all the cloyingness this suggests is offset by the sharp stab of pickled carrots and papaya. “You can smell the pork sizzling on the makeshift barbecues all around Hanoi,” says Jess Waller, who submitted the recipe, and I have never missed foreign travel more.
I should also draw your attention to Anna Jones’s carrot burger. A bunch of carrots, roasted with paprika and cumin, blitzed with tofu and formed into buns. Just to add to the sensation of California-style clean eating, you can pile the burgers high with Jones’s avocado and cherry tomato salsa.
The Bosh! Boys have a recipe for bhaji burgers that, while it seems designed to give purists a heart attack, happens to be quite delicious. As they put it, these deep-fried beauties are “great with mint raita, or you can make smaller bhaji bites and serve them with curry”.
Cheesy veggie burger
The final meat-free recipe today is vegetarian rather than vegan, and for good reason. It’s Kitchen Sanctuary’s cheesy veggie burgers, and as such contains quite a lot of egg, cream and cheese. They’re all cooked into the patty along with carrots, potatoes and green beans. If you haven’t quite made the leap to veganism yet, this is a pretty good treat.
Whole truck burger
Now, finally, remember when I cancelled the tall burger? Well, I’m going to uncancel it, but only for a moment. The way I see it, if you’re going to make a tall burger, you should make it so tall that it’s impossible to eat. And that’s where Calgary food truck Alley Burger’s whole truck burger comes in. There’s a giant slab of meat, covered in cheese curd and topped with a fried egg, four rashers of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, jalapeños, onion and aioli. Genuinely obscene.
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