As I was writing this the other day, I had burgers cooking in the oven. I made them a bit too thick and wanted to make sure they were completely cooked all the way through, because I used pork mince rather than beef mince. The smell is pretty nice but somewhat overpowered by a BBQ sauce I made because I’m going to cook BBQ chicken drumsticks tomorrow. But as I was making the burgers, a simple thought wandered into my mind: “Oh my god, this is actually really easy.”
And the more I think about it, the more I think that errant thought is correct. Homemade burgers are really easy to do.
Like, really easy.
The way I like to make burgers is simple: I get some mince (150-200g per burger feels about right), mash it up in a bowl with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika (and sometimes some grated or finely chopped onion depending on my mood), then make the mince into balls. I then put a frying pan on a medium-high heat and squish the mince balls onto the pan, giving them plenty of space. If they’re thin burgers, then you can just cook them in the frying pan, flipping them over after about five minutes – I tend to flip them over several times to cook them more evenly. If you don’t think they’re cooked all the way through, you can stick the burgers in the oven on a medium heat (about 200C in a fan oven, gas mark 5-6) for 10-15 minutes.
At their purest form, a burger is just some meat mince with some salt and pepper, mashed up into balls, squished into disks then grilled, fried, baked, seared, griddled, however you want to cook them, and not hurting yourself in the process. Then you just stick your burger in a bun, add any extra toppings and eat. The only hard thing about burgers is knowing when they are done. In fact, if you’re cooking with good quality, fresh beef mince, you might want it a bit pink in the middle. If you’re cooking with chicken or pork or whatever though, you will want it cooked all the way through, with no pink left.
The only time a burger gets complicated is if you are doing something fancy, like sticking cheese or an egg in the middle of the burger itself. But things like cheese and eggs and bacon can go on top of the burger, so adding them inside the meat itself can be counter-intuitive and just make life harder for yourself. In fact, the best burger is generally the most simple one. Heck, even with fast food burgers, it’s the simpler burgers that seem to sell better. If you throw too much in then you’re just confusing your taste buds.
This goes further though. I mean, what about meatballs? Meatballs aren’t really harder. In fact, making meatballs normally goes through the same process as making burgers. It’s a lump of meat with some spices added to it, then cooked in one of many ways. My favourite ways are frying meatballs or letting them simmer in a tasty tomato sauce.
Actually, now that I think about it, a burger cooked in a tomato sauce might actually be very nice. Would be very messy too, but I don’t think “messy” has stopped some people.
And then there’s other types of meat that are just mince in different shapes. I mean, sausages are, theoretically, mince in stomach lining. And chili con carne is mince but not in any specific shape.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic here. My point is, it’s worth having a go at making your own burgers at some point. Because it’s really easy. Really, insanely easy.