Today’s culinary hell, takes us to the much berated US of A, and its capitalist burgers. Most people love a burger, but unfortunately it’s irrevocably connected in their mind with the disgusting plastic versions in the fast food joints or even the less disgusting plastic versions of more upmarket burger places. For the latter I will admit that they serve burgers more reminiscent of normal meat than the type served in the haunts of alienated youths the world over.
So today I will give the recipe for burger and buns, exactly as I make them at home when I’m in a good mood. Unfortunately the day I made this batch I forgot to take loads of photos, I only have some at random points. But anyway what I lack in photos I gained in burgers.
(more or less 12 buns)
- 4 cups of plain flour (sometimes I use strong flour or I add just a tiny bit of wholemeal flour. Note, really just a tiny bit. About 1/4 cup for every 4 cups)
- 1 sachet of yeast
- Warm water (not boiling) – but you know how it is with flour, add water slowly until it can’t take anymore – just as your average Greek granny says
- 1/2 cup sunflower or other light oil. You can use olive oil but it makes them a kinda richer. I like them with olive oil too
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs (if your eggs are turbo size, just 1)
In a large bowl, put half the flour with the yeast. In another bowl mix water, oil, sugar and salt. Muck about (c) the liquid in half of your flour and stir. Beat the eggs – not too much initially and then more rigorously, you want them to go a bit fluffy. Put the rest of the flour and the eggs in the mixture. And get on kneading. It should be a nice tight, smooth but pliable dough that does not stick on your fingers.
Leave the dough alone to rise in a warm place, it has to double in size. Grab it and divide in 3 pieces. Let it rise again for about 5 minutes. Now, if you have weighed the ingredients correctly each of these pieces should give you more or less 4 buns.
Do not worry if they seem small, the damn things will really rise. Don’t make the mistake of making them big at this stage cause they will turn into proper loafs once in the oven. Make small balls of dough and gently flatten with your hand on the baking tray. Also make sure they’re not too high cause they won’t fit in your mouth. The point is to make small flat round disks. (It’s a shame I didn’t take a picture at this stage).
Bake them on a lightly oiled surface. You can just sprinkle some sesame on top before baking (to make the sesame stick just put a light coating of water on them with your brush). The buns need about 10-15 minutes, 180 degrees (always Celsius). When I’m asked “how long should I bake them for” I usually answer “until they are ready“. Cause I have NEVER found a recipe that can time dough baking exactly. So keep on baking until they have a nice even colour and are well risen.
We can now move on to the main thing.
This is where for you Greeks out there we differentiate. Burgers are completely different that your average traditional minced beef Greek burgers (I love em, I honour them and I make them in 132415423 different ways). Here I am talking about American burgers and the recipe is a bit more fortified than the ones I found in books with American recipes.
- 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of minced beef, preferably lean
- 1 teaspoon powdered beef broth – yeah it might not be very popular but it makes a world of difference with burgers. (Note for avoiding this: The powdered beef stock makes a difference cause it contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), a well known taste enhancer. This can be bought on its own and it does wonders with meat. It’s not more dangerous than salt but in 500grams (1.1 pounds) of minced beef only add one teaspoon, it’s enough. I add this instead of stock. On the other hand if you are hardcore with healthy nutrition why the hell do you want to eat a burger? Don’t add anything in that case)
- Finely chopped onion. I add lots. About a medium onion for a 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of meat. You want it cut finely but don’t cream it – it will go bitter.
- If you want, one or two teaspoons of ketchup or barbecue sauce.
- 1 tablespoon of smoked or plain paprika.
- Salt and pepper. If you can find vegetable salt it’s great. I found some in Germany last time I was there, it’s salt, celery, “krautersalz”. It gives great taste.
- If you like cumin just add a teaspoon of ground cumin.
- And if you are the hearty and hot food type put some chilly in there.
From here one the thing is simple.
Just shape and cook the burgers in your oven as you would normally.
The burgers and the buns are ready. You may also want to cut the bread in half and toast the insides in a pan. Now for the filling.
Do your worst. Fill with anything you love. Bacon, pineapple, avocado, go crazy.
You may well ask. How do YOU fill them you amazing dude?
Here we go:
I pour some barbecue sauce on the base or mayonnaise/ mustard. Onion, cheese (cheddar cheese in this case), bacon and that read thing is chipotle (smoked chilli pepper). Alternatively you can just finely chop some jalapeños straight from the jar.
Serve with beer and eat while watching b movies with zombies.
Bon apetit and start your diet Monday.