“Children need to know where the meat comes from” – My mother
Some will say I was robbed of my childhood when it comes to junk food. Well maybe not robbed (this to me refers to as the kind of action that is accompanied by malicious ski masks or stockings that flatten the perpetrator’s nose and pull at their eyes to disfigure the face) but perhaps pick pocketed? Something taken away from me without me even knowing it. This is not an opinion that I fully agree with. Yes, I did/do feel slightly like an outcast sometimes, but the way I was raised taught me things completely contradictory to conventional society’s idea of childhood. “Children need to know where the meat comes from,” said my mother once when I asked her why she never let us eat party pies, chicken nuggets or sausages. “You are always curious and I want to encourage you to learn whenever you ask a question. I wouldn’t know how to answer you if you asked me what has gone into those foods that you so desperately want to eat.”
THAT stuck with me. Yeah you’re right, mum. Childhood is all about learning, observing and understanding the world around you. We, as adults, should never let this get stunted just because it is easier to shove sugar and video games in front of a difficult child. I mean, if one wanted easy, one should goeth and obtaineth a goldfish..eth.
But I digress.
I remember having my first Big Mac when I was 15 maybe 16 even. We had a class project that required us to study al fresco in the city and my lunch had leaked in my bag so I had to borrow money off a friend to buy something to eat (f.u Tupperware). My first thoughts: It was a foreign flavour of mushy cardboard papier mâché, sandwiched between two sweet (admittedly tasty) bready buns, served with limp, watery lettuce leaves, messy chopped onions, weak pickles and a sauce that made it all somewhat bearable to swallow. What is all the fuss about this stuff? I remember thinking as I sat and watched my friends devour their flat, sad, soggy burgers blissfully. What is in this stuff? I knew what lamb tasted like by now. I knew what beef tasted like. The mysterious grey, crumbly patty I was chewing miserably on did not taste like either of those proteins. That sauce is interesting though. It’s like crack cocaine for some people. I admit that it’s super tasty and a vegan version may or may not have been one of the first things I ever created when I started experimenting with cooking.
She made a vegan Big Mac sauce. She’s not normal.
Don’t get me wrong, its not like I’ve never had a burger before prior to that fateful day at Maccas. I’ve had plenty of mum’s outrageously flavourful, umami rich burgers – and biting into a Big Mac was like downgrading to internet explorer when you’ve been using chrome all your life. No, no. It’s like downgrading to dial up speeds when you’ve been on 4g all your life.
The famous Maccas beef patty is probably one of the most depressing things I’ve ever eaten. People totally fall for the bullshit claims about it being made out of 100% beef! But either they are using some real foul offcuts, or that thing is full of hamburger fillers. I know beef patties. I used to stumble through the market crowds with mum as she pushed her way to the butcher’s at the market and haggled her way to kilos of red, glossy protein. Then I remember bashing up garlic in a mortar and pestle back at home as loud banging noises coming from my mother’s vicinity indicated that she was chopping up cubes of meat with her trusty asian cleaver (every asian family home has one). Then she would throw everything in a food processor and BAM – burger patties for days.
So today, I’m going to teach you how to ensure you know where the meat in your burgers come from. Trust me, adding a few extra steps in your regular burger prep will save you from consuming nasty fillers, hormones and preservatives – plus you will end up with a super tasty patty that will impress your friends and family when you boast that you made it from scratch.
But why do I call this the Scarborough Fair Burger?
Are you going to scarborough fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine
Because I’m a die hard Simon and Garfunkel fan who laughed for a good five minutes at the scene in Almost Famous where Anita Miller is being lectured on the dangers of their music. To be fair, I’m pretty sure every musician of their calibre at the time was on pot and more.
Also because parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme. Well…minus the sage. My first intent was to include sage when I came up with this recipe, but it is so overpowering. I played around with various smaller amounts of it and I could still taste it – so bye bye sage. This was also supposed to be a beef burger, but then I have this flirtationship with my butcher and I always end up walking out with extra meat after my purchases (not a sexual joke). And it just so happens that this week I walked out with some boneless spring lamb. Huzzah! Even better with rosemary!
And what of the other heroes in this dish?
The mighty cheese trifecta: organic smoked cheddar, delicious nutty gruyere, and melty, mild swiss cheese. The smoked cheddar is hugged by the luscious lamb and beef mixture like an overprotected child, and becomes a cheesy gooey mess in the centre once you cook the patty through. The gruyere and swiss dress up the meat in an outrageous, salty sweet avant-garde overcoat, all voluptuous and pale and glossy. Browned-butter basting (made with real butter obviously) leaves the whole kitchen smelling like the gateways to heaven. To add to the sensory overload: sticky, smokey, balsamic caramelized onions that cut through the fatty lamb and the rich, roast garlic white truffle aioli. Yes you heard me…roast garlic white truffle mayo. This baby is one hell of a burger – and it doesn’t come with vegan Big Mac so sauce don’t worry.
Happy feasting, and do mind your table manners!
The Scarborough Fair Burger
Prep time: 1 hour & 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 hours
Balsamic Onion Relish
- 2 red Spanish onions, finely sliced
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of Fleur de Sel
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons coconut blossom sugar
- 8 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Roast Garlic White Truffle Mayo (adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe)
- 1 head garlic, sliced in half
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup white truffle oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- pinch of fine table salt
Stuffed Scarborough Patties
- 500 grams boneless beef short-ribs
- 500 grams boneless lamb
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 2 small asian shallots, finely diced
- 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp red paprika
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, picked from stem and roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, picked from stem and finely chopped
- 2 springs of parsley, finely chopped
- 3/4 tsp fine table salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 x 20g cubes of smoked cheddar (or any smoked, melty cheese)
- 4 x slices of swiss cheese
- 40 grams of gruyere, shaved/grated
- Flour to coat
Brown butter baste
- 1/4 cup vegetable
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 1/2 cup finely sliced shallots
- 4 potato buns
- 4 tablespoons of mild french mustard
- 4 heaped tablespoons of Balsamic Onion Relish
- 4 tablespoons of truffle mayo (go nuts)
*If you do not have a mincer, the meat will need to be frozen for 1 hour before using, so that it can be hardened and easily processed with the food processor
Prepare onion relish:
- Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Cook onions in the melted butter for about 5 minutes, then turn down the heat and continue to sweat for a further 3 -5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and coconut blossom sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes until vinegar becomes reduced and a sticky, rich consistency.
- Cut the beef and lamb into small cubed chunks and transfer to the freezer for 1 hour.
- Once hardened, throw into a food processor in 2 batches with half of all the stuffed patty ingredients (minus the cheeses) for each batch, and pulse until the mixture resembles..well…burger mince.
- Divide into 4 equal portions, then place a cube of smoked cheddar into the centre of each portion and shape into patties around it.
- Dust a large baking tray with flour, salt and pepper, and toss the patties in it to coat both sides. The flour will help keep the patties together and form a thin crust.
- Heat the vegetable oil set aside for the basting in a large pan over high heat.
- Brown the patties in the oil for 2-4 minutes each side until crispy and dark, then reduce the heat to medium high.
- Add the butter, thyme, rosemary & shallots reserved for the basting, and keep occasionally flipping the patties in the basting. To baste, tilt the pan slightly so the butter pools to one side and use a spoon to pour the butter over the patties where you see dry patches. Flip and baste the patties for a total of 8 – 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat to low, and top each patty with the gruyere and swiss cheese
- Using a large heatproof bowl turned upside down (or a lid if you have one that fits over the top of these chunky babies), cover the pan and let the burgers steam for 5 minutes. This last step will ensure the cheesy centre is cooked through.
- Heat the oven to 200C.
- Place the garlic, thyme, 1 tablespoon of the white truffle oil, salt and pepper into the centre of a sheet of baking paper or foil. Wrap the paper tightly around the garlic and friends, and roast until it is soft for about 35 to 40 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft pulp into a bowl and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the egg yolks, mustard, water, and salt and pepper. Pulse with the machine to break up the yolks.
- Pour in the rest of the oils in a thin stream with the machine running. Then add the garlic and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lemon juice, salt, or pepper. Thin the mayonnaise with more water if it is too thick.
- Halve the potato buns and butter the inside of the bottom half lightly.
- Spread a tablespoon of french mustard on the inside of the bun lids.
- Place the patties on the bottom buns.
- Spread a tablespoon (or more) of the truffle mayo on each patty, then dollop a heaped tablespoon of the balsamic onion relish over the top.
- Add the lids and serve immediately.
- Always buy fresh meat from the butcher when you are making a mince, so you know where your protein comes from. I purchased these meats from Hagens Organic Butcher in Prahran Market.
- Coconut blossom sugar is unrefined, organically grown and sustainably farmed in Java, Indonesia (represent!). It has the most amazing flavour – think caramel and bittersweet dark chocolate – and it is lower in GI than other raw sugars. It is also a good source of calcium and iron.
- Most of my herbs come straight from my herb garden. Herbs are cheap and easy to grow, and only require minimal effort. Some can be temperamental whilst others thrive, but this really depends on the climate.