This Month's Recipe...
From page 209 of The New English Kitchen.
The best burger I have ever eaten was in a restaurant on California’s staggeringly beautiful coastal road, Highway One, which runs through Big Sur. The restaurant was named Nepenthe, after the herb recommended by the ancients for forgetting sorrow, and sure enough, this place was manned by ageing hippies, with grey hair and beards down to their waists. We sat side by side at tables positioned at the optimum angle to watch the grey whale migration north, washing down the burgers with dry martinis. At Nepenthe they sandwich the burgers in crisp French bread, toasted on the inside. Sheer bliss.
French and Italian butchers are in the habit of mincing meat to order, in front of you – a practice I like because you can be absolutely sure of what meat you are buying. An alternative is to buy the meat you want, and chop it yourself in a food processor.
480g/1lb well-hung rump steak, or a mixture of chuck and rump steak
4 pinches of celery salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (if frying the burgers)
freshly ground black pepper
either 4 thick chunks of baguette, split open and toasted lightly on the cut side (I do this in a frying pan while I cook the burgers);
or 4 soft baps (easy for children with wobbly teeth)
Trimmings – choose from the following:
thin slices of cheese – Malvern, Durras or Oxford Blue would be good
sweet German mustard (or your favourite mustard)
tomato chutney or ketchup
Cos or romaine lettuce
sprouting seeds (see page 69 of The New English Kitchen)
cornichons, thinly sliced lengthways
good-quality bought mayonnaise (home-made is just not as good with burgers)
Cut the meat into 2cm/3/4 inch pieces and chop in a food processor, being careful not to process it to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the celery salt and some black pepper. Shape into 4 round patties.
Cook the burgers either on a barbecue or indoors. To cook them indoors, heat the oil on a large ridged grill pan or in a heavy-based frying pan until it begins to smoke. Put the burgers in the pan and turn the heat down to medium. For a rare burger, cook for about 2 minutes on each side; for a well-cooked burger, cook for about 4 minutes per side. To test, prise open the centre of a burger with a sharp knife and take a look. Don’t worry if this spoils the appearance, the burger will soon be inside the bun. If you are making a cheese burger, put a slice of cheese on the burger while it is still in the pan, approximately 2 minutes before it is ready.
To assemble the burgers, spread one side of the bread with mustard and tomato chutney or ketchup. The burger goes on top, followed by the salad ingredients, then mayonnaise.