I don't work any more because I don't work any more.
McDonald’s? Wimpy? Burger King? Iceland? Waitrose? Any supermarket burger? None of them has ever done it for me. Mushy and tasteless, apart from the distinctly unpleasant aftertaste. That aftertaste is there just to remind you about the indiscretion of your choice.
Instead, take any ordinary supermarket mince to make your own. I try to avoid the lean low-fat stuff because you need some fat. I am dieting (eternal) but this is a treat.
I’m one of those people who rejoice in making their own bread. Even worse; I didn’t replace my bread machine when it broke. Less bad; I bought a food mixer with a kneading paddle. This recipe should make three hunks of a burger. Add more meat if you’re hunkier.
Let’s start with the bread.
It’s a middle eastern thing called maneesh:
250g strong white flour,
15g caster sugar
7g quick bake yeast
2 tsp olive oil
150/160 ml water
For the topping
3 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs dried thyme
1 tbs dried marjoram
1 tbs poppy seeds
1 tsp sea salt (It’s up to you how much.)
2 tbs olive oil
This topping is traditional for the region but you can use anything. Try mixing the dried herbs and seeds with harissa or tahini (lovely and sticky but a beast to spread. It can be diluted with a little hot water.) Supermarkets also sell packets of mixed seeds. After being baked with the bread they are delicious and toasty.
Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the olive oil and 150ml of the water.
Using your fingers, mix the ingredients together. Gradually add the remaining water until all the flour has come away from the sides of the bowl and you have a soft dough.
Pour a little oil onto your worktop. Place the dough on top and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be wet in the beginning but will form a smooth dough once kneaded.
If you have a mixer, churn until elastic; about 5 minutes on a medium speed. Or if you have a breadmaker pile it all in and put it in pizza mode. (With a machine you can leave step 3 out.)
Once a smooth dough is achieved, place into a clean oiled bowl, cover and leave to double in size.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. No matter how non-stick the tray is, parchment is best.
Tip the dough onto an oiled worktop. Knock the dough back by folding it on itself, repeating this until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Make a slightly oval splodge.
2. Place on the lined baking trays and cover the tray with a tea towel. You can actually stick it uncovered in the oven. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
3. Mix the topping ingredients with a little olive oil until you have a thick paste. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8.
4. Just before baking, brush the surface of the bread with olive oil. Spread the topping over the bread and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Honestly, this is like focaccia with attitude.
It comes out with the same texture but the topping makes it. You can spread some fresh herbs on it as well; just put a little extra oil on if you do this.
250g ordinary beef mince
Half a medium sized onion chopped into itsy bitsy bits.
1 tsp sea salt-ordinary will do, just use half. Any form of mild chilli-based paste or sauce.
I actually use gochujang; a Korean fermented chilli paste.
You may find it in the world foods section at Morrison (£2.50) In Waitrose it’s a rip-off but any sweet sauce will do.
1 tsp allspice if you like or some smoked paprika.
1. Saute the onion on a gentle heat until glistening. Don’t let them get too soft if you like to feel the tang.
2. Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and add the cooked onions when cool enough.
3. Mix everything with your hands and form burgers of your chosen size.
3. Fry. I fry them quite hard on one side and much softer on the other. If you don’t like them too caramelised (posh word for burnt) then stick to gentle.
4. Cut the maneesh up into appropriate shapes and slap the burger in it with your favourite condiment.
5. Devour while making piggy noises.
6. Don’t serve with a salad. Make some sweet potato wedges dressed in cumin, paprika, coriander and salt baked in the oven at 180 until soft.
This recipe will probably take longer to read than actually do. It will also work well with falafels. I think the bread makes it. Thin layers of avocado in your burger will add a real punch as well. Even a fried egg will give it zing. I made a dip from a jarred roast pepper, one clove of garlic, some cumin (to taste), lemon juice, smoked paprika, pomegranate molasses and some oil. It took seconds in the processor.