Challenge No. 22 – Homemade Burgers

This challenge was suggested by my colleague Dean after he bought himself a George Forman grill. I’ve been making burgers to a particular recipe for a couple of years now but I thought this would be a good opportunity to test my recipe against one made by my family in Canada.  When Dave and I visited my family in Goderich in 2014, my cousin’s wife made us some absolutely delicious homemade burgers and so a couple of weeks ago, I asked Kristen for her recipe.  With the recipes and ingredients ready, it was time to put our burgers to the test.

For my original burger recipe you will need the following:-

  • 250g beef mince
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 med egg
  • 25g breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 25g parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Edited - ingredients 1

For my adaption* of Kristen’s burger recipe you will need the following:-

  • 250g pork mince
  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 1/2 tsp worcester sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 50g Salt and vinegar crisps, crushed
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Edited - ingredients 2

To serve:-

  • Brioche buns
  • Cheese (we went for cheddar but I also love blue cheese on a burger!)
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Sauce(s) of your choice

*This is an adaption for 2 reasons.  Firstly, Kristen didn’t give me quantities with the recipe, just the ingredient list, so I just went with my instincts and used the amounts I’ve set out above.  Secondly, I left out one of the ingredients Kristen recommended – pickle juice.  Neither Dave or I eat pickles and I couldn’t find any small jars in the supermarket.  I didn’t want to buy a huge jar just for a bit of juice so I decided to leave this ingredient out. 

On with the burger making.  If you’ve never made burgers before, it is really simple! All you need to do is put the ingredients in a bowl, get your hand dirty by mixing it all up until well combined.  You then portion the meat mixture into balls and squash them flat to make your burger patties.

Edited - onion in bowl Edited - mixed up

 Edited - mixed up 2Edited - mixed up 3

I put the shaped burgers onto a greased tray, brushed the tops with some oil and then covered them with cling film before popping them in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.

Edited - on the tray 2 Practical tip: the ingredients above make a lot of burger meat but it can be frozen to cook at a later date.  Simply shape your burgers, wrap them in some baking paper and cling film.  Pop them in the freezer and enjoy another day.  I also used the left overs from Kristen’s recipe to make some meatballs which I cannot wait to try with a rich tomato sauce and spaghetti! 

Edited - meatballs

Whilst the burgers were firming up, I heated up my griddle pan and sprayed it with some cooking oil.  This is a bit different to what I have previously done as I normally just use a normal frying pan.  However, my mum recently gave me a griddle pan and I thought this would be a good opportunity to try it out.  To be honest, I didn’t like it as much as my frying pan.  The burgers ended up sticking and I think next time I’ll go back to my trusty frying pan 🙂

Once the pan was hot, I added my burgers and let them cook away for around 7 minutes before flipping them over to cook the other side for another 7 minutes.  I gave each side a little longer until cooked all the way through.

Edited - in the pan Edited - flipped

Practical tip: the amount of time required to cook your burgers will depend on how thick you make them.  The thicker the burger, the longer they need to be cooked for but I suggest keeping the heat on medium to low so as to ensure you don’t burn the outside before the inside is cooked.

Once the burgers were done, I put them to one side and toasted some brioche buns (which I plan to try and make myself one day but for now they were store bought) on the griddle pan. 

Edited - toasting bottoms Edited - toasted tops

I added some cheese to the burgers and popped them under a hot grill to melt the cheese.  I then cut the cooked burgers in half and added half of mine and half of Kristen’s to each bun.  Finally, I added some lettuce and tomato to one of the buns along with some ketchup and mayonnaise; the other I left plain as Dave doesn’t like any of this stuff, he just wanted meat, cheese and bread 🙂  I then served the burgers with some homemade sweet potato fries and we tucked in.

Edited - served up

Both recipes produced very tasty burgers, however, I have to admit, Dave and I both agreed that Kristen’s recipe just won the competition.  Kristen’s recipe produced a great tasting burger with a really good texture and it was something a bit different from just your run of the mill burger.  We will definitely be having these again and I can’t wait to enjoy the burgers and meatballs already in the freezer!

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 23 – Chocolate Truffles 

Challenge No. 18 – Philly Cheese Steak

This dish was suggested by my brother who is a qualified cross-fit trainer, ex-triathlon athlete and all round fitness fanatic whose love of food sometimes wins out over the desire to be healthy (he’s only human!).  My brother doesn’t abide by the motto of having everything in moderation and if he’s going to do something he does it properly, including cheat days.  And so his suggestions for Challenge 52 include Philly Cheese Steak, BBQ chicken wings and, what he calls, “the mother of all milkshakes”.  Not exactly the picture of health but some great choices from my big brother!

I’ve already made the chicken wings and now its time for the Philly Cheese Steak – a wonderfully cheesy beef mess served on a lovely soft white roll.  Whilst I had heard of of the dish, I actually hadn’t ever eaten one.  I did a bit of searching online and was presented with a plethora of versions.  Some used mushrooms whilst other didn’t, some used leftover roast beef whilst others used fresh beef steak and so on.  The starting point was the beef.  I discussed the options with my boyfriend Dave and we decided to go for left over roast beef.  A common problem with roasts when there are only 2 of you is what to do with the left overs and this seemed like a great solution.

So on Sunday I cooked a roast dinner using beef brisket.  I slow cooked this until it was at a good carving point but not quite at a shredding point.  We had a 1kg joint and I cooked it for around 2hrs 30 minutes at 170 degrees celsius.  Once the leftover beef was cool, I got my sharpest knife and carefully cut it into very thin slices.

Practical tip: slicing the beef as thinly as possible seems to be key to this dish.  If you are using fresh beef steak, most recipes call for the steak to be chilled in the freezer for 30-45 minutes as this makes it easier to slice the beef as thinly as possible.

To make the full dish, I used the following ingredients:-

  • Oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet red peppers, thinly sliced
  • Leftover roast beef, thinly sliced
  • 5 cheese slices
  • 3 hot dog buns

Edited - ingredients

This is a very simple ingredients list and it could be expanded by adding mushrooms, a bit of garlic and maybe even jalapeños if you like a bit of heat.  However, Dave requested we keep it simple and so I stuck with just the 6 ingredients listed above.

Edited - meat and veg

I started off by frying the onion for a few minutes and then adding the pepper to the pan.  I let this cook away for about 8 minutes over a low-medium temperature until the veg was nice and soft.  I removed it from the pan and added a little more oil before frying the beef. 

At this point I cut my buns in half and popped them under the grill to heat through.  They were under a medium heat for around 5 minutes which was just long enough to add a little crunch to the surface without loosing the fluffiness of the bread.

With the buns almost done and the beef heated through, I returned the onion and peppers to cook for a couple more minutes.  Finally, I added the cheese slices and once these had melted, I gave it a good stir to mix it all together.   I then added the cheesy-beef mix to the heated rolls and added a side of sweet potato fries.   

 Edited - in the bunEdited - served up

All in all, I enjoyed my first Philly Cheese Steak and this really was a perfect Monday night dinner.  It used up the sunday roast leftovers and was so quick to make. I am planning on making this again and next time I’ll give it a go with fresh steak and a few extra ingredients, just to see what its like.         

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 19 – rum raisin ice cream! 🙂

Challenge No. 10 – Currywurst

This recipe was suggested by my friend Jenni and is a fast food dish originating from Germany. I’ve never tried currywurst and was at first a little apprehensive.  I had flashbacks to a show and tell presentation whilst at primary school where I took in another common German dish, sauerkraut.  I have absolutely no idea why I was presenting this, of all things, but I do remember I did not like it one bit!  And so, when Jenni suggested currywurst, I immediately googled it to make sure it wasn’t related in any way to sauerkraut.  Thank goodness it wasn’t.  It is basically a german sausage smothered in a curried tomato sauce and it is often served with chips and/or a crunchy bread roll.

I set of in search of a suitable recipe and decided to use this one.  The recipe calls for the following ingredients:-

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika powder
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 bratwurst sausages
  • dinner rolls for serving

Those of you who have been following my posts will know that I always include a photo of the ingredients.  I started this recipe in the same way as all the others, by setting out my ingredients ready for their photo.  However, in doing this, I realised I had made a mistake with my prep!

Before I went shopping for the ingredients, I read through and mentally crossed off anything I already had in the cupboard, which included the curry powder.  However, when I went to get out my curry powder, I realised I had got it wrong! In my head I had thought of the chilli powder sat in the cupboard and mistakenly checked of one of the most vital ingredient! Face-palm moment – who thinks they can made currywurst without the curry?!  Anyway, after a quick emergency trip to the supermarket at 8.30 on a Saturday night, I was all ready to go.

Edited - ingredients

I started by chopping the onions and popping them in the saucepan to soften. 

Practical tip: don’t worry about chopping the onions too small – they get taken out of the sauce before you serve up and are merely there to add flavour.

Edited - onions in pan

Once the onions were soft, I added the curry powder and paprika.  I let this cook for around a minute and then added the remaining ingredients.  Personally, I didn’t add any salt as I didn’t think it needed it but obviously this comes down to personal preference.

Edited - onion and powders Edited - bubbling sauce

I then let the sauce simmer away for around 20 minutes and got started on the bratwurst.  I opted to cook 3 bratwursts for 2 of us and this worked out to be the perfect serving size.  I heated a little oil in my frying pan and put the sausages in.

I turned the sausages regularly trying to brown all sides.

 Edited - sausage panEdited - cooked sausage

With everything nearly done, I pushed the sauce through my sieve to remove all the lumpy bits of onions and was left with a lovely silky smooth sauce.  I popped this back in the pan and on the heat until ready to serve.

I cut up the sausages and spooned the sauce over the top.  I was a bit reserved with the sauce at first and ended up going back for more because it was just so delicious.  I served up with some slices of crunchy baguette and some yummy curly fries. 

Edited - served up

The verdict – currywurst is absolutely delicious! Whilst we were eating it my boyfriend revealed he was really not looking forward to having this but was surprised at how nice it was.  We did however both agree it was a little sweet and if we have it again (which we will do!), I will put a little less sugar in and probably a little more curry powder. 

One of the best things about this dish was it’s simplicity.  Whilst I cooked it on a Saturday night, it would be a really good mid-week treat and is definitely one I will be doing again!

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 11 – chocolate ganache & cherry tart. 🙂 Hope to see you then.