There are a couple of things which took me a long time to get used to, like the fact that as a passenger I kept trying to climb into the driver’s seat; or the height of the water in the toilet bowl. But there are a couple of things that didn’t take any getting used to at all. One of these things is the American’s love of burgers. To them a burger is not only a quick-lunch you can grab without even getting out of your car, but rather something that at times can even be called gourmet. And the best thing is, they are readily available; every couple of blocks in New York City seems to contain at least one restaurant creating these masterpieces between two halves of a bun.
Back home there are burgers that can easily match the same quality, but unfortunately the availability of them can sometimes be a problem.
So instead, I’ve taken to making my own:
- 500g lean mince
- fresh parsley
- 1 egg
- 125ml bread crumbs
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Camembert cheese
For the mince, I went all out, using lean Gemsbok mince. I start by breaking the mince up into a glass bowl with my hands. I separate the parsley from its stalk and chop it up as finely as I can, which is normally not really finely at all, and dump the parsley in with the meat. Add in some freshly ground salt and pepper, just using a best guess method for quantity, and some of the Worcestershire sauce. I crack in the egg and add the bread crumbs. And then I mix everything well together with my hands.
To make the actual burger patties, I break out my most important utensil, my hands. You’re going to need quite thick patties for this recipe, so I aim to get around 6 burgers out of the mixture. I roll a ball of mince, just a bit smaller than the palm of my hand (I do have quite large hands if you know what I mean). Once I’ve done this, I flatten out the ball, make a small hollow in the middle, and place two pieces of Camembert cheese into the hollow. Then I roll the mince around the cheese, and slowly flatten out into a patty shape, of about 1.5 cm thick. Just make sure none of the cheese is showing, to avoid it burning.
You’ll need to stick the patties into the fridge for at least half an hour before cooking, but this is a perfect time to have a couple of cold beers to reward yourself for your hard work.
I normally do these patties on the Braai, using the griddle side of my gas Braai, but as its rugby season weekends are pretty much taken up by Super Rugby, so I cooked these patties on my Typhoon griddle pan, conveniently in sight of the TV. The griddle needs to be hot, so I place the griddle pan over two of the stove’s gas burners. Don’t put oil on the griddle pan, it’s a little pointless with the grooves. Instead I just spray some olive oil Spray ‘n Cook straight into each side of the patties.
Bang the patties on to the hot griddle. They might shrink a bit during cooking, but don’t get too worried about this. I like to turn my patties as little as possible, ideally only once during the cooking process. If you’ve spaced the patties nicely from each other, you can actually see the progress of the cooking based on how brown the side of the patty becomes. My rule of thumb is about 5 minutes on each side. Every now and again you might see a bit of melted cheese coming through the patty, but this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
Get the patties to their buns while they’re still hot. I toast the buns briefly on the griddle just before serving. We only butter one side of our buns, and instead of butter on the other side, put a layer of mustard. Finish it off with a couple of rocket leaves and a good helping of the LIB’s onion relish.
There’s not many better ways to spend a rugby game, or even a weekend.