If you aren’t eight years old, it’s generally not considered cool to say that your favourite food is a burger. As an adult you’re supposed to have more sophisticated tastes, you should like sushi, or risotto or something.
But nothing can beat a well prepared burger. So next time you’re throwing a dinner party, why not give people what they’re really craving? The ultimate burger night. All you have to do is make sure all the right ingredients are there:
The burger is of course the centerpiece of your evening. It is the lynch-pin that everything else is held up by, so you want to get it right. Your local supermarket will most likely have its own brand of posh burger but the truth is you can make an even better burger yourself. Get some decent minced beef, throw in some finely chopped onion, crack in an egg and knead it together until you can make patty shapes. Be careful not to over-handle the meat or your burger might start to crumble – just get the meat into the right shape and see that it holds together.
Oh, and it’s tempting, but don’t flatten the burgers with a spatula. It might make them look more “burger-ish” but you’re squeezing out valuable juices.
The burgers should be grilled for a couple of minutes on each side on the hottest part of the grill, before being moved onto a lower heat where they can be cooked for another 2-3 minutes for medium-rare burgers, 3-4 minutes if you want them medium, or 5-6 minutes for well-done burgers.
Now if you have a diverse group of friends it’s possible some of them might not even eat meat. That’s okay! The meat-free burger is possible, but you have to be careful. The truth is that most vegetarians have to eat veggie burgers every single time they eat out because it’s the only meat-free thing on the menu. Instead, grill a Portobello mushroom and some Haloumi. It actually tastes really good, and not like a second-rate meat equivalent.
Whether meat or vegetarian, make sure you serve up the burgers one by one as their cooked. Get a production line going so that everyone eats their burger while it’s hot!
Don’t buy those big packets of buns marked “burger buns”. You might as well put your burger between a couple of dry sponges. There are only two ways you should go: the soft route and buy some nice brioche buns, or the crusty route and get some crunchy ciabatta rolls. Both are good, but personally we prefer the crunchy ones.
Wars have been provoked over less contentious subjects than the correct garnish for a burger. Cheddar? Blue cheese? Those weird burger cheese slices? Whatever you decide on, make sure there’s plenty to go around.
The second most important thing is a good range of condiments. A nice tomato relish, a Dijon mustard, some mayonnaise and a bottle of that weird orangey “burger sauce” you’ll find at every burger van. Also, this is important, pickled gherkins. You know how you love McDonalds even though their burgers are pretty unremarkable? It’s because of the gherkins. So make sure you have some on your topping bar.
You could eat your burger on its own, or you could have it with a salad instead. This isn’t about what you could do, this is about doing it right, and a burger needs fries. It’s tempting, if you’re going for the full on burger experience, to try and chip your own potatoes to provide a totally homemade meal.
Don’t do it – what you’re doing is giving yourself two extremely important jobs to do simultaneously, and that won’t do. Some oven-cooked McCain crispy French fries will do the job just as well. If you want to be fancy, season with salt, pepper and rosemary or parsley to flavour.
There are all kinds of things you can drink with your burger. Some might prefer a red wine, some a craft beer. But one thing’s for sure, you can’t beat a milkshake – particularly, a peanut butter and whiskey milkshake, which you can find the recipe for here.
And there you have it, everything you need to host the finest burger and fries shindig known to humankind.
Enjoy responsibly (eat six of them).