Of course, there’s always the cheap stuff in the frozen aisle to fall back on, but I’d rather not wonder if what I’m eating is actually the meat it claims to be, and it can often be the case that the lower quality burgers are packed out with other ingredients to make the meat go further.
Fortunately though, there’s a happy medium between cost and taste, and that is to buy the ingredients and make the patties yourself. Rather than paying at the butcher’s counter in the supermarket for something that is essentially made out of the same mince you can pick up off the shelf, you can cut the middle man out and do it yourself. This also means that you can customise the seasoning of the burger to a greater extent, and the more your budget, the more adventurous you can be with your flavouring.
For a burger that has a real kick, you could add some dried chili flakes or some finely chopped fresh chili. For a smoky heat, try some smoked paprika and a little cayenne pepper. If spice isn’t your thing, you could add some dried rosemary and thyme. You can also vary the meat, and I find that a 50/50 mix of minced pork and beef can work wonders. You could mix cheese into the patty for a gooey cheeseburger. There are all sorts of combinations to try, depending on what you like.
Whilst supermarkets often sell a range of flavoured burgers, this way you have much more control. Supermarkets also often do offers on packs of mince, so this way’s great if you’re catering for a bigger group. You can make the patties before your guests arrive, so it’s not terribly inconvenient, and it’s not that hard to do them anyway. If you’re having people over, they’ll go away knowing you went the extra mile for them by making the burgers yourself rather than buying them in.
Here’s a recipe for a very basic burger. Depending on the size you make them, it should yield 6-8:
750g beef mince
2-3 handfuls breadcrumbs
Liberal amounts of salt, black pepper and dried rosemary for seasoning
1. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands until combined into a paste.
2. Take handfuls of the mixture and shape into patties about 2 centimetres thick. Make sure to press them firmly into shape between your palms, and remember that they will shrink slightly when you cook them.
3. As a rough guide, cook on a hot barbecue for 20-30 minutes. It might take a little longer as the temperature of a barbecue (especially a disposable one) can vary. You can also grill or bake them. As long as they’re not raw in the middle, you’ll be fine.