Every summer Mr.P and I have a hilarious tussle over the bbq. It goes something like this, ‘why can’t we have a gas bbq?, it is so much easier to cook on’, my rather arrogant, spoilt brat response is – ‘ooohhh nnnoo – surely the only reason for a bbq to exist is to have that unique bbq flavour – call it what you will, burn, sizzle, flambee – you can’t replicate that on a gas thingymajig’. True or not, as you can see I am a loyal charcoal lover and stoically refuse to contemplate the easier life offered by the gas alternative. To be fair, this is not my domain, totally off my patch so pretty rude to be so dictatorial over the cooking appliances when I don’t even use them myself. That said, Mr.P has long since overcome the challenges presented by charcoal but curiously, hoping to catch me in a moment of weakness, he still tries the gas bbq option every year.
Rain or shine we tend to use the bbq most weekends, we cook fish, squid, scallops, prawns, chicken, Poussin, shoulders of lamb, legs of lamb, racks of lamb, even a rib of beef and most importantly burgers! I am a burger lover and ever since childhood have made my own. My mother used to have one of those nifty stamping out burger gadgets – thrilling for any child, now I just hand shape my own patties having mixed the beef mince with a few other key ingredients. This list of ingredients is a bit of a moveable feast and slighty depends what is in the store cupboard, it includes some or all of the following – onion, fresh thyme, parsley, chives ketchup, Lea and Perrins, mustard, chilli flakes and the wild card for this year, ‘capers’. I admit, a little random but actually the magic ingredient!
This is how I like my burger – medium rare, served on toasted sourdough bread or a homemade bap, a good dollop of sweet chilli jam, ideally with a slab of cheese melting provocatively over the top, accompanied by a garden salad and a good slug of olive oil. Yummy. Occasionally I attempt to make the ‘burger bbq bonanza’ more of a legitimate feast as opposed to carnivore meat fest, enter a tray of ‘rosemary, garlic and sea salt roasted new potatoes’, abracadabra – quite a classy affair! Needless to say the ‘little people’ are keen, so hoorah hoorah, a family dining experience for everyone.
Now back to the ‘Chin-Chin’ bit of this post. One of my innovative colleagues from university set up his own distilling company in 2009 (the first in London for 189 years), along with a highly successful gin and vodka, they distil an extremely fine and delicious ‘Summer Cup’ which is a very honest rival to the longstanding Pimms. Perfect in this balmy summer weather it is the ideal tipple while those burgers are on the bbq. Thirst quenching and not too sweet it really is quite a find, at least I think so. To explain it more coherently and in their own words : Sipsmith’s interpretation of the quintessentially English ‘cups’ from the 1800’s, is based on Sipsmith’s award winning London Dry Gin, blended with a host of carefully selected summery ingredients including infusions of Earl Grey tea, Lemon Verbena and Cucumber. Available to buy at Majestic, Waitrose and online, so no excuses about living in the North of Scotland and not being able to source it!
My Burger Recipe Today
Apologies for the fluid title, I have always been happy to go freestyle on some recipes and this is one of them, but today, I have measured, quite precisely, the ingredients out for all and sundry! – that said please don’t be tied to the list, add more, or less but try not to eradicate completely!
1kg of burger mince (ideally from a butcher not the pre-packed stuff) makes between 10 – 12 burgers depending on your choice of burger size
2-3 tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup
1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
A good shake of Lea and Perrins
2 tablespoons of salted capers chopped finely
1 tablespoon of flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped chives
2 very finely chopped medium onions
Mix all the ingredients together really thoroughly, almost like kneading bread, and shape into the required burger size. Leave to rest in the fridge for an hour and then cook on the bbq. Orders as to ‘how you like it’ to the lucky bbq chef!