Homemade burgers for me used to be all about the extras: I made them green with fresh herbs, spicy with cumin, stuffed them with fennel seeds, chopped garlic, chorizo. No longer. Now the focus is on the quality of the beef. I want a burger that is pink, succulent and velvety-soft. Fat is essential to flavour here. My butcher, HG Walter, sells mince with a 15% fat content, but the mixture it supplies to high-end burger restaurants is, at their request, 20% fat. Not because it’s cheaper, but because it makes a better burger. ‘We use the leaner version in the shop because of the appearance. Customers don’t like to see so much white fat.’
Needless to say, it’s the 20% version I use and the result is a gorgeous, meltingly soft burger. Rosé is always an option, otherwise, go red and simple. Steer away from any wine trying to be too serious, and towards juicy red-berry flavours that will still taste cheery alongside the sweet tomato ketchup, the richness of the burger bun, and whatever else you end up piling in there. A good beaujolais villages or a beaujolais cru are sophisticated, refreshing choices.
Zinfandel is looser and lusher, a more American option. Other good possibilities include Sicilian nero d’avola, malbec, or an IGP (the new name for vin de pays) cabernet, syrah or red blend from southern France. The very best match here was the Chilean cabernet-carménère. The wine tasted even better with the food than without, and the whole thing was so good I made it all over again the next night.
4 GOOD MATCHES:
Casa Silva Cabernet Sauvignon-Carménère 2013 Chile 14% (Lea & Sandeman, £7.95)
Bright, crunchy berry fruit, with guts and just a smidge of oak. Great barbecue wine too.
Frappato 2013 Italy 12% (M&S, £8)
Another adventurous wine from M&S: a lovely, mulberry-scented, light red from Sicily. You could try it slightly chilled.
Toro Loco Tempranillo Utiel-Requena 2014 Spain 12.5% (Aldi, £3.79)
This bright bargain of a red, made from the rioja grape, is one of Aldi’s best buys.
Beaujolais L’Ancien Les Pierres Dorées, Jean-Paul Brun, 2013 France 12% (The Wine Society, £10.50)
Uplifting, energetic gamay fruit. Light-bodied. Tastes of being outdoors.
Burgers and slaw recipe
good butcher’s beef mince 500g, about 15-20% fat
burger buns 4, toasted
good cheddar 100g, sliced
ketchup and mayo to serve
white cabbage 1⁄4 small
red cabbage 1⁄4 small
carrots 2 large, peeled
mayonnaise 3 tbsp
natural yogurt 3 tbsp
Dijon mustard 1⁄2 tsp
Mix the mince with some seasoning and leave to come to room temperature while you make the slaw. Slice both cabbages finely and put in a bowl. Grate the carrot coarsely and add to the cabbage. In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard, season to taste, then stir into the cabbage mixture.
Divide the mince into four, roll into balls and then squash into patties. Heat a heavy-based frying pan, and dry-fry the burgers for about 4 minutes on one side, flip, then cook for another 3 minutes, or longer if you prefer.Top with the sliced cheddar, grill until the cheese melts, then assemble the burgers in buns with tomato ketchup or mayonnaise if you like, and a dish of coleslaw.
PER SERVING: 771 KCALS | FAT 43.1G | SATURATES 17G CARBS 50.3G | FIBRE 6G | PROTEIN 42.4G | SALT 2.2G
This feature was published in July 2015
Photographs: Ant Duncan
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