It was with a bit of a start that I discovered I’ve been making these hamburgers for just short of twenty years. The original recipe came in the Good Taste magazine published by the Wine of the Month Club which I’d joined in about 1998. The publication is now defunct – gone the same way as many other printed publications. However, I digress, but indulge me a little longer: I realised that it had been more than fifteen years because I made them in Cape Town; we’re in our eleventh year in McGregor. Among other things, these burgers have featured as an offering for more than one Christmas market.
In March, I began my ninth year as a stallholder at the McGregor morning market. I now realise that I’m a die hard, now. A fixture. In more ways than one!
Folk who follow my social media – especially Instagram and Hive will know that burgers – meat and plant-based – are a pretty regular feature on our menu. Going through my photos, I discover that I had shared this recipe before: around October and in 2014; to be precise. That post, along with a body of preceding work disappeared into the ether when my erstwhile host disappeared, effectively killing my blog. On reflection, it was one of my very early posts and will only benefit from what I’ve learned – both blogging and in the kitchen – in the intervening eight years.
When the recipe was published in 2003, it was part of a series of articles on – and recipes from – iconic restaurants around the country. This one was from Blues. For about twenty years, it was the place to go: real live sea views – from glossy magazines – and food to die for. I remember going there for the first time in 1990, and not long after Nelson Mandela was released and during my first “grown up” visit to Cape Town. I had to try the recipe. I did, and have both never looked back and have, of course, tweaked it to our taste and – to be honest – budget.
Making the best of the “blues”
One of the joys of being married to a former stock farmer (and being of a certain vintage) is that we both understand and value
cheaper less popular cuts of meat. That means I’m not averse to using venison or ostrich mince (ground meat) if I can get it. I also don’t insist on sirloin or whatever was in the original recipe. On The Husband’s advice, and that of our Country Butcher friend, for a batch of patties I made for one of those pre-Covid Christmas markets, was to include 10% sheep’s fat.
Ahem…he now moves earth. Really!
In addition to exercising my right to budget-friendly, flavourful meat, I have also ditched the dried herbs in favour of fresh. I have not looked back.
The best hamburger patties
- 1,2 kg beef mince (ground meat)
- 2 onions chopped
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- sunflower oil for frying
- 60 g mixed fresh herbs (or half if using dried) chopped
- 10 ml soy sauce
- 20 ml Worcestershire sauce
- dash Tabasco
- 1 egg
- salt & pepper
To serve - all optional
- 6/12 burger buns
- rashers bacon - sufficient for the number of burgers
- cheddar grated
- sliced tomato
- sliced onion
- gherkin or pickle of choice
- potato wedges
- Finely chop the onion and garlic and sauté these in a little sunflower oil untiltranslucent.
- Removefrom the heat; add the dried herbs and leave to cool.
- Put the mince into a large bowl and season with the soy, Tabasco and Worcestershiresauces. Add the cooled onions and fresh herbs if using, along with the egg; season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the burger mix into six (or 12) even balls and shape into patties. For bestresults, allow the burgers to sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour prior to cooking.
- Grill the burgers to the degree you prefer them over hot coals or in a pan.
- Grill or fry the bacon rashers until they are nice and crisp.
- Place on a warm burgerbun with some sliced onions and juicy tomatoes.
- Place the bacon on top of the burgers; then smother with grated cheese.
- I use a range of different meats: venison, ostrich and have also introduced 10% mutton fat.
- I make 12 patties (measured using a half-cup measure).
- Adapted from: Good Taste No 168, November/December 2003
As there are only two of us, I freeze what we don’t eat – in pairs. They store well and play equally well with potato wedges and lightly grilled sourdough buns (and, of course, commercial hamburger buns).
Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa
If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:
- re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
- and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.
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