Making Your Own Burgers
A guide (rather than a recipe) to making your own burgers from scratch. Also included are some ideas for making them more interesting.
In this article I’m going to share some trade secrets I’ve picked up while working as a chef. Specifically I’m going to explain to you how to make your own burgers.
Why Bother Making My Own Burgers?
To be honest, if you need to ask you probably won’t want to. Making your own burgers is often no cheaper than just buying frozen ones, in fact it may be a little more expensive. But if you value taste and just enjoy cooking, you’ll find them very much worth while. Plus, the upside is you can make all sorts of flavors and styles of burgers! This is something that you owe to yourself to try at least a couple of times.
An Important Note
This is NOT a recipe. I will not tell you exactly what ingredients to use, how to mix them, the amounts you need and so on. All I’m going to do is give you a guideline, you’ll have to experiment for yourself to make something you like. Cooking is an art form, and like any art it needs to have some of the creator’s own influence in it, and following a set recipe does not achieve that.
There are three main ingredients to your own burgers, but unless you want something that’s bland-tacular, you’ll want to add some more. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Your three main Key ingredients are:
- Minced Beef (or any other sort of minced meat depending on the type of burger you want)
- Eggs. You’ll need about one for every 600grams of mince. Some people like more, some people like less. Also the type of meat you use can effect this. Experiment!
- Bread crumbs. You can buy these at many supermarkets, or alternativly you can dry out some bread by leaving it somewhere warm for a while and then stick it in a blender (no seriously).
Well, there we go, those are the basics. Now, depending on what sort of burgers you want, you can add a few things, onion is a popular one, powdered spices like paprika or tandori work very well. Also, liquid ingredients can really add some flavor. If you feel like splashing out, I recommend red wine! Don’t worry about choosing ingredients for now though, read the rest of this article for the recipe and your choices will become clear.
Method (or Rather Controlled Madness)
- You need a big bowl. The more burger meat you’re trying to prepare, the bigger you will need. And cue the sexual innuendo giggles…
- Dump all your minced meat into the bowl (For God’s sake stop laughing you perverts!). Make sure you make a note of how much mince you’ve put in.
- Add your eggs. Again, for every 600 grams of mince you want about one egg. But you may need to experiment.
- Chuck in a small handful of breadcrumbs for every egg you put in. Yet again, experiment. I work as a professional chef and I’ve never used a set of scales in my life. Go with what feels right!
- Now add the rest of your ingredients. Vegetables (such as onions) need to be finely sliced. You want their taste to be subtle and present throughout the entire experience of the burger. If they are in big chunks, then whoever’s eating them is going to get generic meat flavor on one mouthful (Innuendo not intended), and then a massive, nauseating hit of onions on another.
- Here comes the fun part. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands in there! Put the bloody spoon and mixing gear away. Do it with your fingers. Mix the whole lot up for a good few minutes, break the eggs, throw the mince together, crush it, fold it, bash it, mix it. Listen to Daft Punk if it helps.
- What you’re aiming for is the mix to be roughly even throughout (obviously) and more importantly it should have a consistency that allows you to pick up large clumps of the mix without it falling apart. On the other hand if it doesn’t crumble at all you’ve probably added too many eggs. See the end of the article for more information.
- Take a work surface and scatter some bread crumbs on it. Take a decent size lump of your mix and put it on the surface, then flatten it out into a burger shape! The breadcrumbs will help stop it sticking. Make it as thick or as thin as you like. Thin tends to work better though.
- Decide how you want to cook your burgers. Pan frying works well, especially if you chuck some other things (Such as garlic) in to fry with it. Grilling is also a good option.
- Serve your burger!
Improving Your Recipe
There are many variations on this recipe; here are some ways you can improve:
- If your burger falls apart when you try to cook it, you need to add more eggs and/or more breadcrumbs. These will help keep your burgers together when they cook. But beware that when the burger is raw, it will fall apart fairly easily anyway, especially if you make it thin.
- Use good quality mince. Mince loaded with fat or pumped with water will shrink a lot when it cooks. Plus it tastes bad.
- Don’t throw in too much in terms of extra ingredients. By all means, put lots of different spices and herbs in, but don’t put too much of each one in, or else your burger will taste foul.
- Your first attempt will probably be mundane at best. But keep trying, you’ll figure out something you like after a couple of attempts.
- When mixing your mince if you’ve got the egg/mince/liquid ingredients ratio right, your burger mix should have the consistency of a thick, heavy paste
Some Ideas to Get You Started
My personal favorite burger mix uses the following extra ingredients:
- Cajun Spice
- Chilli powder
- Garlic (just a little!)
- Worcester sauce (Be generous!)
- Red wine (As above)
- Don’t use onions. I hate onions.
- Anything else spicy that I have lying around…
One idea I’ve heard good things about but never tried is mixing different kinds of meat. As I’ve said I’ve not tried this and it does sound a little bit odd to me. But saying that it wouldn’t be the most bizarre thing I’ve ever thrown together while extremely drunk and too broke to afford to follow a proper recipe… but that’s for another article.
Well I’d say that’s about it for the idea. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this isn’t your generic “Do this with X amount of that” guide. You’ll need to experiment to get it exactly right, but that effort will pay off if you try. You’ll get a much better sense of achievement creating your own recipe from this guide than you will just following someone’s instructions. Plus with any luck you’ll be more confident in general. Feel free to post comments on how this recipe worked out for you, as well as any other suggestions or mixes you may have.
Until next time, enjoy playing with your meat!