Burger Blues

There is something both decadent and comforting about a hamburger, and a really good hamburger is a treat. No self-respecting deep freeze should be without hamburger patties.

There is something both decadent and comforting about a hamburger, and a really good hamburger is a treat.  We have never been fond of franchise food or ordering in, so when I found a recipe in the wine magazine to which we subscribe, I decided to give it a go.  I was spurred on by the fact that the recipe emanated from one of Cape Town’s then (and now, I think) trendiest eateries, Blues.  I sound uncertain because I remember when it was a new establishment to which one “had” to go when one came to Cape Town.  I was still living in Johannesburg, then.  I left in 1992.  Seems it still is trendy:  described as an “icon” on its own website.
No self-respecting deep freeze should be without hamburger patties – they are a great stand-by when one doesn’t know what to cook and can be dressed up or down.  You’ll see what I mean, later.
I gave said recipe a bash at the time, which I now discover, was in 2003 because I re-typed it (we didn’t have a scanner in those days, and it’s reproduced in the picture below, complete with typos), because I was either sick of having the entire magazine clogging up the recipe rack or not being able to find the right edition when I needed it, can’t remember which.
I made some of these patties the other week and Melon gave me a helping hand.
Hamburger patties are really easy to make and I’ve made them from a range of different types of meat:  pure beef, a combination of  beef and ostrich and when it’s been available, venison (kudu) mince (ground meat for my American readers).  I have not “wasted” (The Husband’s description) good rump steak on making mince – shop bought, good lean mince works just as well and is a lot less trouble, not to mention messy!  Using the other meats was a consequence of being able to buy them minced, on a special (and a sensible way of buying, anyway…).
Over the years I’ve learned a couple of (well a few more than that) things that have helped me perfect my burger patties:

  • always substitute fresh herbs for dry herbs.  I use whatever is available in the garden and always use thyme, parsley, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and bay.  Then, depending on the season, also tarragon and fennel.  The recipe says 30g of dried herbs, so I generally use three to four tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs.
  • red or white onions – doesn’t matter
  • using the quantities in the recipe for just 6 patties makes them far too big for us – this batch made 10
  • I’m not good at measuring out perfect quantities, so I use a measuring cup (125ml or ½ cup) as a guide (you could also use a cookie cutter); then I roll, shape and press them to the requisite shape and dimensions
  • I set the prepared patties out on wax paper on a tray and then freeze them (we have a quick freeze option, so it’s a bit like IQF) and then they’re packed in twos for use when we need them
  • if you’re going to use them that day, you still need to put them in the fridge for at least an hour so that they firm up and are easier to fry
  • the portions are sufficiently generous that the potato wedges or fries are not necessary

A hamburger supper is the easiest meal to prepare:

  • caramelise some onions (if you’d like) and set aside to keep warm
  • while they’re cooking, lay out all the accompaniments on a platter and set out the condiments of choice
  • in the same pan as the onions, cook the patties as desired (slightly pink for us)
  • halve bun and toast the inside – also in the pan – it soaks up the juices and crisps up nicely

The burgers are ready to assemble, either by the cook or by individual diners, to taste.  The latter is a great way of doing a casual supper, which we did a few years ago (with the kudu patties) and our guest is still raving about it!

Comforting can also be decadent

In addition, or instead of the usual accompaniments, the humble burger can be “dressed” up, for example

  • a couple of rashers of bacon (as per the Blues’ recipe)
  • cheese other than cheddar, for example, Camembert, Brie or blue
  • appropriate relishes that complement the cheese(s) like onion marmalade, cranberry sauce, chutney
  • a fried egg
  • fresh herbs like rocket (arugula), basil or dhanya (coriander/cilantro)
  • and anything nice-and-not-common that takes your fancy…



I have, for nearly two years, virtually cut out all bread and potatoes from my diet.  The Husband’s metabolism and mine are diametrically opposed: he can eat huge, carb-laden meals with no consequence;  me, not so much.  When I decided to take this course of action, I also resolved that it had to be easy – I was not going to cook two different meals – and, as far as possible, I’d stick to it.  I did, though, give myself “permission” to have the odd piece of toast and a tattie over the weekend.  The upshot:  it was easier than I thought, except when I’m away on business, and it’s become a habit (and I have shrunk significantly).
All of that said, there are no burger blues for me:  I’ll have the patty and all the trimmings sans the bun.
With a glass of good wine, a bunless burger is a more than perfectly acceptable and comforting supper!

Post script

Between last week’s post, the 118th and this one, Fiona’s Favourites reached a significant milestone: 10,000 views.
Yes, more than ten thousand views.  This is in no small measure attributable to those school-mates who shared the post about the school and our 35th reunion.  I thank them, and all of you who read, comment and share my blog posts.
© Fiona’s Favourites 2015

9 thoughts on “Burger Blues”

  1. I often have ‘ construct your own burger’ dinners. With the kids obviously , as they’re so Flippen fussy but friends love it too. A good friend of mine is married to a Muslim and I made half of the burgers with Halaal lamb mince for my 2nd 50th birthday party. They were delicious and went down a treat. So much so , I had to whip two away so that Ismail could have seconds.
    Will definitely try frying the onions and garlic next time. I usually grate them and squeeze the liquid out before incorporating.
    Congrats on your 10 000 views. I see your posts during the day at work and can’t wait to get home to read what you’re dishing up next.

    1. Chris you were one of my first subscribers! Glad you still enjoy/find the posts useful.
      Frying the onion & garlic caramelises them and pulls the flavour out. I do it often, even when the recipe doesn’t call for it.
      I had a great lamb burger at Hell’s Kitchen in Melville last week. Forries does a good one too! Must try making burgers with lamb, too. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Love it, and the pics are wonderful. I travel 40 miles to get ground beef from an Amish farming family that my family has known since the 1920’s. It is exceptional, and worth the trip. Congrats on the 10,000 !! ☺

    1. I am sure, and I’m envious. The Husband is cultivating relationships with local farmers in the hope that we can get meat from them….
      Thank you, too for the compliments and congratulations. 🙂

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