In celebration of International Burger Day tomorrow – 28 May – I thought I would put together a burger recipe with a petit twist! Introducing my Ultimate French Cheeseburger which couldn’t be any more Frenchy if I tried. It’s one premium beef patty, special sauce, cress and cheese with cornichons on a buttery brioche bun. A far cry from any fast food chain excuse for a cheeseburger indeed!
Like a lot of Aussie kids born in the 70s, my initiation to burgers was via a special outing to the omnipresent Golden Arches. From then on, ‘Maccas’ visits became a childhood tradition saved for birthdays and school holidays. My menu item of choice was always a Junior Burger – dill pickles tossed aside! It was basically an undernourished meat patty, squirt of tomato sauce and scraping of American mustard on a sugar stacked flat bun. I would fill the burger with French fries in an attempt to pimp up the flavour and substance. Most other kids my age chose the Cheeseburger instead, but even back then I couldn’t come at those orange coloured slices of cheese flavoured rubber. In fact I am pretty sure that those unmeltable ‘cheese’ singles could survive a radioactive accident without melting!
I have, however, eaten many memorable burgers in my lifetime. Does anyone remember the $1 Betty’s Burger? Betty Wallace sold her burgers for a quarter of a century from a hole in the wall at Noosa Heads in Queensland to hungry surfers, coconut oiled beach babes and sun kissed families. Those were the halcyon days! I’m afraid the reincarnated version of the Betty’s Burger that has returned to Hastings Street just doesn’t cut it for me at all.
Then there were family Friday nights at home when we would regularly enjoy homemade burgers with a side of crinkle cut oven fries. The burgers would be uncomplicated but delicious with the addition of Mum’s caramelised onions on a white bread roll.
Some years later, while living in western Queensland as a young cadet journalist, a ‘burger with the lot’ featuring pineapple, beetroot and bacon was essential on a Saturday morning if one was feeling a bit dusty from the night before. Mr GFAF to be would add a fried egg to his calling it an Aussie Burger. Fair dinkum!
These days, gourmet hamburgers are du jour – from petit sliders featuring elegant fillings such as dressed lobster to the ever popular pulled pork and slow cooked beef brisket. Some paleo twits have even tried to make the ‘bun-less’ burger by slapping their grain free meat patty between two field mushrooms. Sorry – I’m not falling for that one. And in an Asian airport a few years ago I recall locals in a fast food chain restaurant eating fried chicken fillets between two rounds of rice that were shaped like a burger bun. Please explain!
At home when I make burgers I like to mix my flavours up a little with some global twists. Korean Fried Chicken burgers with gochu jang mayo or Balinese Beef Burgers spiced with chilli and lashings of satay sauce are high on the list of favourites. To celebrate this National Burger Day I am sharing with you the recipe for my latest burger incarnation: the Ultimate French Cheeseburger, which is a bit naughty – well, a lot naughty – but it’s great for a treat. Bon Appétit!
- 500g premium beef mince
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 shallots finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons tarragon, finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 slices Swiss Cheese
- 12 cornichons
- 4 Brioche buns
- In a large bowl add the mince, garlic, shallot, tarragon, beaten egg, salt and pepper.
- Using your hands combine the ingredients well. Divide the mixture into quarters and form four even sized hamburger patties. Put the patties on a baking tray in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to 'set'.
- In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise with the Dijon mustard and set aside.
- In a heavy based fry pan heat the butter over medium heat. Add your meat patties and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove and set aside on a clean baking tray to rest for 5 minutes.
- Cut your Swiss Cheese slices in half and drape two halves over each of the cooked meat patties. Then place the tray of patties under a moderate grill to melt the cheese. Remove from the grill.
- To assemble the burgers, split your brioche buns in half. Spread a generous amount of the Dijon mayonnaise on the bottom half of each bun, top with watercress, a cooked meat pattie and some cornichons.
- Place the brioche lid on top and voila!
- Bon Appétit!