My friend Danny and I are on an endless quest for the perfect burger. Not just those you can get at the myriad of trendy burger joints that have sprung up across the country in the last couple of years, but a burger you can make yourself in the comfort of your own kitchen: a burger packed with flavour, with a squashable texture; a burger that’s juicy and oozing with mouth-filling fat; a burger with toppings that complement but don’t distract; a burger with heat and tang, with sweet, salt and smokiness.
I believe we have a contender!
This Insanity Burger from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Comfort Food’ cookbook is a serious contender for the Best Burger I’ve Ever Made.
It is INSANELY good!
Jamie says: ‘The method for this burger is almost ritualistic in that it requires you to do to get close to burger perfection. I’ve also used the brilliant technique of brushing the burgers with mustard and a dash of Tabasco Chipotle sauce as they cook to build up an incredibly gnarly layer of seasoning.”
800g minced chuck steak
1 large red onion
1 splash white wine vinegar
8 small gherkins, sliced in half, lengthways (Jamie used two large gherkins, but I didn’t have any)
4 brioche burger buns
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
4 tsp American mustard
Hot Pepper sauce (Jamie used Tabasco sauce, but I didn’t have any)
4 slices burger cheese (Jamie used Red Leicester, but to my mind, you can’t beat yellow plastic cheese on a burger. I can’t be persuaded otherwise)
For the burger sauce
1 Liittle Gem lettuce (Jamie used ¼ iceberg lettuce but I had a Little Gem in the fridge)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s – can’t beat it)
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Hot Pepper/Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brandy (optional)
1. For the burger itself, ideally ask your butcher to mince chuck steak because it has a great balance of fat and flavoursome meat. However, if you can’t do that, use minced beef with 20% fat content.
2. Divide the mince into four balls and then, using the flat of your hand, press each ball out to a burger-shaped disc. Mine ended up about 10cm wide. Put on an oiled plate and chill in the fridge until needed.
3. Put the sliced red onion in a bowl and sprinkle over the vinegar and a little salt. Set aside.
4. Slice the gherkins and halve the buns.
5. To make the sauce, finely slice the lettuce and mix with the rest of the burger sauce ingredients.
6. Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Add a little oil to a large frying pan and fry the bacon until as crispy as you like it, approx. 4-5 mins. Transfer to a plate and put in the pre-heated oven to keep warm.
7. Now it’s time to make the burgers. Sprinkle the oiled burgers with salt and pepper and place them in a large frying pan, pressing down so that the whole surface of the burger comes into contact with the pan. This will give you a great crust.
8. After 1 minute, flip the burgers and brush with a little of the mustard and Tabasco. After another minute, flip onto the brushed side and brush again with more mustard and Tabasco.
9. Flip and brush again and put a couple of slices of the warmed bacon on top of each burger.
10. Add a slice of cheese, then add a splash of water to the pan and place a heat-proof bowl over the burgers to melt the cheese (for approx. 30 seconds).
11. At the same time, toast the buns under the grill.
12. To build each burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, then top with a cheesy bacon burger, a quarter of the onions and gherkin.
13. Rub the bun top with a teaspoon of ketchup then gently press together.
14. As the burger rests, the juices will soak into the bun, so serve straight away.
15. Make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins at the ready – because you’re about to get messy!