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Cooking With Mark: Mastering the burger

From brioche buns, to bunless, burgers are back in new, interesting forms. Here’s how to create your own ‘burger experience’

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Making the most of my Netflix subscription, this week I decided to move away from the stream of crime dramas I’ve binged watched over the last few weeks, and started a new series based in the UK where food start-up companies compete for major investment from F&B entrepreneurs. One couple in particular caught my eye — an East London-based pop-up burger company who claimed to have created the ‘best burgers in town’, a big claim when one of the judges launched one of the most successful burger companies in the city over the last few years. From their street food stall they wanted to open a small intimate restaurant, sadly after failing to impress the judges they didn’t secure the investment they needed but ‘learnt a lot from the experience’.

I’m a sucker for a well-grilled pattie, Dubai certainly caters to that, just take a drive along Jumeirah Beach Road, and you’ll find a burger joint on every corner, I often refer to it as ‘Jumeirah Burger Road’.

During my college days, I worked part-time at a popular burger restaurant, synonymous with the golden arches. The long shifts hunched over a hot grill, flipping frozen burgers was gruelling, but the camaraderie was fun, we were all young, the atmosphere was always fun and friendly.

Since leaving, I’ve rarely visited the food outlet. Back in the late 80s, fast food didn’t have the stigma it has now. It was quick convenient food; popular with the kids and then a real treat, I even met the main character Ronald. It was Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 indie film that catapulted the industry into the news headlines. We’re all told everything in moderation, but his movie made a lot of people question the nutritional content of all fast food and what it was doing to people’s health.

The burger is now back in a more sustainable form, handmade from free-range locally sourced beef, people now want the ‘burger experience’. From Brioche buns and black buns to bunless burgers, you can find pretty much any burger you want in Dubai.

I love a classic cheeseburger, with American style mustard, ketchup and some sweet pickles; the kind of burger that requires stacks of napkins or a bib.

I’ve experimented with different recipes from jerk chicken burgers to spicy beef burgers. I resent seeing freshly made burgers in packs on sale in stores; it doesn’t take any time at all. Any food that’s celebrated with a national day is clearly a dish that people love, dates differ across the globe, but why not celebrate this food favourite any day? But not every day, you saw what happened to Morgan Spurlock!

 

WHOLEGRAIN MUSTARD CHEESEBURGERS

Makes 4, prep time 10 minutes, cooking time 15-20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE BURGERS

■  1 tbsp of oil
■  6 cream crackers
■  500g of minced beef
■  2 garlic cloves chopped
■  2 tbsp of wholegrain mustard
■  1 free-range egg
■  1 tsp of smoked paprika
■  1 cup of chopped coriander
■  1 chopped red onion
■  Salt & pepper

TO SERVE

■  4 burger buns
■  8 slices of burger cheese
■  2 large sliced tomatoes
■  Rocket leaves
■  1/2 red onion thinly sliced
■  Pickled gherkins
■  Tomato ketchup
■  American style mustard

METHOD

Place the crackers in a sealable bag, using a rolling pin crush into crumbs. Add the minced beef, crackers, egg, coriander, onion, the dried spices to a bowl season and combine. With wet hands dived the mixture into four, roll into a ball and flatten into patties. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Next, prepare the serving ingredients. In a pan heat the oil over a medium heat. Place the patties in the oil, cook evenly on each side to your preference. Meanwhile in a griddle pan toast the buns. Add a slice of cheese to each patty and allow to melt. Arrange the toasted buns on a serving board, layer with cheese, ketchup, mustard and rocket leaves. Add the burgers, top with tomato, onion, gherkin and serve.

— Recipes, food styling and photography by Mark Setchfield, follow him on Instagram @gasmarksix.

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