Now that I get to choose what goes on my dinner plate most days I guess that aspect doesn't have quite the same thrill, but it's still fun to build a burger to your own specifications, and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner with Sister Cake and her family. And I learnt a great new trick - one of those little hacks that, once you're aware of makes you wonder why you haven't always done it that way, because it makes so much sense. This special trick? Adding grated carrot and courgette to the patties. This is excellent in every dimension; it keeps the patties from drying out, so they taste better; it makes the meal cheaper, since the meat goes a bit further; and it adds a bit more veggie content to the meal, helping nudge you closer to your 5+ a day.
Sister Cake is very organised in her meal planning, and knows out what's for dinner two to three weeks in advance. See her nifty fridge calendar (she made the pretty meal magnets herself) - I have no hope of ever doing this effectively, but at least that meant we were then able to decide on the night before to have our own burgers. (we do a bit of planning, along the lines of having a discussion when we're building the weekly shopping list, thinking of three or four meals (as we make double and eat leftovers half the time) and getting what we'll need to make those)
You could go ultra-homemade and make your own bread, which would be delicious but is not something that fits into our weekday calendar, so we bought bread rolls - and if you do that this is actually a pretty quick meal to prepare - 15-20 minutes all up.
Step one is making the patties - they'll take a while to cook (though this will be faster if you have a sandwich press), and you can customise these to suit - add herbs and spices to your taste, use whatever mince you prefer (lamb and rosemary patties would be great, or pork and apple). We stuck with beef mince (about 500g made 6 patties), and in addition to the grated veg seasoned with salt and pepper and added a bit of chilli powder and cumin as well. Really you can do whatever works for you. Egg will help bind them and breadcrumbs will pad them out further - but we didn't use these, so they work fine without too.
Because our buns were long and skinny I made oval patties, just smushed together by hand. You want to make them a bit bigger than the bun because they will shrink a smidge as they cook.
I prefer my onion cooked (though many people prefer raw in burgers) so I threw that in the pan with my patty, and once the onion began to soften I threw in some mushroom too.
We did buy two tomatoes, even though they're out of season - I really like tomato and sliced thinly a little goes a long way. Definitely not essential, though. As well as that we had mixed salad greens, cheese (just boring old colby, though you could posh it up if you prefer) and a bit of tomato sauce and mustard. Not super flash, but very tasty, easy, reasonably balanced and pretty inexpensive.
|This looked extra appealing at 7.30pm after a hard aerobics class!|
I've also got quite a few other Wellington on a Plate events lined up - that's my personal favourite part, the all-out crazy one-night-only affairs (like last year's White, White, Baby). Ruth Pretty is doing some special classes - Saute, Sip and Savour looks amazing - and there are tons of dinners, classes - all sorts of things! If you haven't done so already check out the Wellington on a Plate website - there is a lot happening (103 restaurants participating in Dine - that's a lot of food potential!) so prepare your bellies.
So tell me, what would your ideal homemade burger contain? And have you got plans for Wellington on a Plate?
6 bread rolls of your choice
1/2 - 1 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
1 egg (optional, though required if you use breadcrumbs)
herbs and spices to taste (we used chilli and cumin)
salt and pepper
sauce, cheese, salad and other fillings to your liking
Grate the carrot and courgette and add to the mince. Add breadcrumbs and egg, if using, and one chopped onion, and season to taste (you can test cook a small bit if you're not sure how it'll taste). Mix together and shape into six patties. Preheat a frypan or cafe sandwich press. Cook the patties until mostly brown (I don't like my meat overcooked but err on the side of caution with mince).
While the patties are cooking chop remaining onions and any other fillings. If you want anything cooked (e.g. the onion, mushrooms, etc) add it to the frypan (if there's room - or use another!). Slice the buns and toast for a few minutes under a hot grill.
Place all ingredients on the table and let everyone build their burger! Serves 6.