Italian Melting Mozzarella Burgers

Feeling a little inspired for Barbecue 17, I came up with a new beef burger recipe. This would also work well with minced chicken. Give them a try.

Ingredients

  • 500g minced beef. Good quality stuff, but not too lean.
  • 2tsp each of chopped oregano and thyme
  • 1tbsp (small handful) chopped basil
  • One ball of mozzarella, preferably buffalo, but it doesn’t matter that much
  • Two cloves crushed garlic
  • Half a red onion, chopped finely
  • 2tsp breadcrumbs

Recipe

This one is a little more complex, but not much, I promise. Combine the minced beef with the chopped herbs, garlic and onions. Use your hands. Try to form burger balls out of the mix – if it’s too wet, add some of the breadcrumbs. As Ina Garten (TV chef extraordinaire) says, you can add all you want, but you can’t take away.

Mmmmm, mozzarella... delizioso!
Slice the mozzarella into cubes around half an inch in width. You could also use those rather cheap mozzarella pearls for this. Now for the science bit. Divide your burger mix into four. With each quarter, form a ball, then a flat burger shape. Now, press a cube of mozzarella into the middle, and shape the burger around the cheese. It’s quite important that you do this well – if the cheese is showing, it’ll just seep out when you cook the burger.

Cooking is as with normal burgers – 5 minutes per side. Slice one open and you’ll see what I mean – these are really something rather special. Buonissimo!

Mexican Lamb Burgers

It wouldn’t be a barbecue without a burger, right? And I haven’t made any lamb burgers yet, so I thought I’d set me a challenge: Mexican lamb. Everyone at the barbecue seemed to love them, which is always nice.

Ingredients

Makes 8-10 burgers

  • 1kg minced lamb. Lamb is a very fatty meat, which means the burgers are very succulent (and you don’t need any oil, eggs, etc)
  • One red onion, chopped very finely
  • One green bell pepper, chopped finely
  • One large red jalapeño chili, or a normal large red chili, chopped very finely
  • A large handful of coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1tsp salt, more to taste

Mexican Lamb Burgers. This was the only one left, within 2 minutes of cooking.

Recipe

Combine all of the ingredients! Quite a few of my recipes start this way. As I said above, if you use your hands to mulch all of this together, you should have something that holds well enough to not need further moisture (or any breadcrumbs). Be sure to combine the coriander leaves well, because they’ll clump together if you’re not careful.

As usual with burgers, form a tennis ball-sized sphere, and compress on top and bottom, pressing in a little in the middle. These will take about 5 minutes per side on the barbecue – watch out, as the fat from the lamb will make the coals spit.

They really go very well with my pico de gallo, and perhaps a slice of Mexicana Cheese (thanks Jen), though burger cheese works just as well.

Quite honestly I’m more pleased with these burgers than any others. Do try them, they’re great.

¡Buen provecho!

Mexican Pork Steaks

In my never-ending search for new barbecuables, I asked good old Twitter for recommendations. Lauren got back to me with an awesome recipe for Mexican Pork Loin Steaks (thanks Lauren!) and we weren’t disappointed. So, this recipe is mainly Channel Four’s. But I messed around with it a bit, and was pleased with the result.

Ingredients

    For the pork
  • Four boneless pork loin steaks
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp smoked paprika (you can use normal paprika if you can’t get smoked stuff)
  • A handful of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • Zest of one lime, and the juice of half of it
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • One large red chilli, finely chopped
  • Two cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • For the yogurt side dressing
  • A small pot of natural yoghurt
  • 1/2tsp mild chilli powder
  • The juice from the other half of that lime

Recipe

First, we’ll make the yoghurt dressing, which really calms the heat in the pork. Just combine the yoghurt with the chilli powder and a little of the coriander, and add the half-lime juice. Stir well and refrigerate.

Mexican Pork. ¡Olé!
Next, the pork. You might think it a bit odd to see brown sugar – it’s surprisingly common in meat-based Mexican dishes. Really helps to counter the heat from all the chillies!
Mix together all of the ingredients for the pork (except the pork itself). You should have a fairly thick marinade, but it doesn’t matter if not. Add the pork, a steak at a time, turning well and rubbing in the marinade. Cover with cling film, and put in the fridge, preferably overnight.

On the barbecue, you’re looking at about five minutes per side. This pork is actually a good substitute for the steak in my fajitas, but is great on its own with the yoghurt.

Steak Fajitas

Fajitas are, strictly speaking, a Tex-Mex recipe. But that’s nearly Mexican, right? Anyway, these were for our Mexican barbecue, and were rather popular. The idea is that the meat bit is cooked on the barbecue and then cut up by you, with the rest of the work being done by your guests. Good eh?

Ingredients

    For the steak
  • 4-5 thin frying steaks, trimmed. These are the cheapish sort which need to be cooked well to be tender. Since we’re cutting them up, it doesn’t matter.
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • A handful of roughly chopped coriander
  • 1tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • The juice and zest of one lime
  • 1tbsp mild olive oil
  • One or two large red chillies or jalapeño chillies, finely chopped
  • 1tsp rock salt
  • 1tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • For everything to go with the steak
  • 12 tortilla wraps (corn tortillas are best, but more expensive)
  • A large white onion and a red bell pepper, chopped into slices
  • A pot of sour cream, and some of my guacamole
  • 1tsp each of ginger, crushed garlic, chilli powder, and cayenne pepper

Recipe

That’s quite a list of ingredients! Luckily putting it all together isn’t so hard.

Combine everything in the “for the steak” ingredients section. Cover with cling film, and leave in the fridge for at least six hours, but preferably overnight. This makes a massive difference to how tender and flavourful the meat is.

Fajita onions and peppers
In the meantime, go make some of my guacamole. You can add some finely chopped chives to the sour cream if you want, but that’s not strictly Mexican. The other thing to do is sorting out the onions and peppers that typically go with fajitas. I like to do these in the same way as I do my garlic tomatoes – chop the pepper and onion into decent-sized slices, and put them in a foil bag. Add the ginger, crushed garlic, chilli powder, and cayenne to the bag, with a little olive oil, seal and shake around. This works really well, but you might just want to fry on your normal hob instead.

Unwrapped. Clearly you should wrap it first.
Anyway, on with the meat. Remove from the marinade and barbecue for 2-3 minutes per side. Take the steaks off the grill, then slice them into 1-2cm strips. Leave the rest to your guests – the idea is that they take a tortilla, smother some sour cream and guacamole on it, add some steak, and top with the onions and peppers. You might even want to add some hot sauce (thanks Jen) Wrap up and enjoy!

Pico de Gallo

For the Mexican barbecue (ole!) I came up with a number of suitable dishes. This particular one is a staple of Mexican food. Pronounced “pico de gaio”, meaning “Rooster’s Beak”, it’s like a salsa, but less saucy. Spicy and delicious, and really good with white meat, or burgers.

Simple, and tasty.

Ingredients

  • Two ripe plum tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
  • Half a red onion, chopped finely
  • One to two large red chillies or jalapeño chillies, chopped finely
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • A handful of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1tsp rock salt

Recipe

Combine the ingredients! I’d start with just one chilli before tasting and adding more – it’s meant to be spicy, but if you can’t eat it because it’s too hot, there’s no point. You’ll need to leave this in the fridge for 3-4 hours so the flavours combine. Yum.

Caribbean Chicken Kebabs

Okay, so I cheat a little in this recipe. It so happens that Levi Roots‘ Reggae-Reggae sauce is (to use his words) fabulocious. It works really well as a marinade, which is quite convenient for this recipe!

Kebabs. Uncooked. Cook before eating.

Recipe

  • 500g pack of diced chicken, or chicken breasts cut into 2-3cm dice

  • Marinade:

  • 1tsp harissa paste
  • 1tbsp dry white wine (believe me, it works!)
  • 1tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • Half a large red chilli, finely chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, and 1cm of ginger, crushed/grated
  • 2-3 tablespoons Reggae Reggae Sauce
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Zest and juice of one lime


  • Other kebab ingredients:

  • Pack of Cherry tomatoes
  • One onion, chopped into chunks
  • A bell pepper, chopped into chunks

Recipe

Most of the ingredients above form a marinade for the chicken. Simply combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and add the cubed chicken to it. Leave covered in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The lime juice should cook the chicken slightly, so it will get paler.

Thread and alternate chicken, cherry tomato, bell pepper and onion onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Note that if there’s an ingredient you’d prefer (okra might work), go for it. Aim for 3 pieces of chicken at least on each kebab, and pack quite tightly.

When you’re done, use a silicon brush to paint the remaining marinade over the kebabs. Barbecue for around 8 minutes, turning a couple of times. They’re really rather good when cooked, and go well with my Mango Salsa!

Jamaican Pork Burgers

Again with the Caribbean theme! These spicy little beggers are fantastic with my mango salsa, or with a dollop of yoghurt, or maybe just some extra hot sauce, if you’re nuts.

It's fabulocious, mon! (Note: not fabulocious when raw) (Ignore the kebabs)

Ingredients

Serves four hungry people

  • 500g/1lb of pork mince
  • Zest and juice of a lime
  • 1tsp of fresh thyme and oregano, chopped finely
  • 1/2tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp harissa paste. Harissa is a chilli paste, typically Moroccan. But hey, it really works.
  • Two cloves of garlic, crushed
  • One large red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 2tsp grated ginger root
  • 1tsp salt, and pepper to taste


Recipe

Ad with an 'action shot' of my Jamaican Pork Burgers.

Again pretty simple – combine the ingredients, and mix well. You may find that the lime juice makes the mixture a little wet – if so, add breadcrumbs. Divide the mixture into four, form a ball from each part, and compress the ball to give you a burger. These are four fairly hefty burgers, so you could potentially make five.

Spicy and fantastic with a cold beer (substitute Red Stripe, or other Caribbean beers!)

Caribbean Mango Salsa

Stemming from the recent Caribbean Barbecue we tried out, this mango salsa is a fantastic accompaniment for any Jamaican food, and goes particularly well with pork, chicken and oily fish.

Ingredients

  • One ripe mango, peeled, stoned and cut into 2cm cubes
  • Half a red onion, chopped finely
  • Juice and zest of a lime
  • Half a large red chilli, very finely chopped
  • Half a red bell pepper, chopped roughly
  • A centimetre or so of ginger root, grated or chopped finely. I wouldn’t recommend using powdered ginger!
  • A handful each of coriander and garden mint, chopped finely
  • Caster or demarara sugar, to taste

Mango Salsa. Ohhh yeah.

Recipe

This one couldn’t be much easier – combine in a bowl! Put the lime juice in with the sugar (perhaps stir them first). It’s important that you leave the salsa to make friends with itself in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

All comments suggest that this really is a nice accompaniment to spicy food. You’ll be surprised how well the mint and coriander work with the mango. Go try it.

Spicy Beef Burgers

It’s recipe time. This one was really a spur of the moment thing: we had some minced beef; MattBurgers had already been done at MattFest, and I fancied something different. This is a slight twist on my Indian Turkey Burgers, removing a little of the rawness of the onion by pre-cooking a few of the ingredients. So, you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • One pack of minced beef (1lb/500g). As I’ve said before, don’t get stuff that’s too lean – you need the fat to keep the burgers juicy.
  • Half a yellow bell pepper, chopped quite small
  • Half a large red chilli, chopped very finely
  • Two cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half a red onion, chopped quite small
  • 1tsp medium chilli powder, 1/2tsp ground cumin, 1tsp garam masala, 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp each of nigella (black onion) seeds and black mustard seeds, ground
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Quite a list, as usual for my spiced stuff. You could substitute a few of the spices for a good curry powder (note: not chilli powder), but if you do it my way, you can control quantities to your liking.

Recipe

Fried onion, garlic, pepper and chilli
Begin by frying the onions, pepper, chilli and garlic on a medium heat until softened (about 3 minutes, stirring frequently). Add the ground nigella seeds and mustard seeds and cook for another couple of minutes.

When done, tip onto a plate, or such, and leave to cool almost completely (see above left). Once cool, the recipe is pretty simple! Combine the rest of the spices with the meat and the fried onions and pepper. If the mixture is too wet, add some breadcrumbs. You shouldn’t need an egg, as the oil used to fry the onions will moisten the mixture to begin with.


Mmm, spicy beef... ignore the sausages
Grill as usual (around 5 minutes per side) on the barbecue. Delicious!

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

I tried this one out with Barbecue Nine to go with steak. It’s an Argentine recipe, which (I think) gives a good combination of spice and sharpness to cut through the richness of steak, and oilier fish.

There are literally loads of recipes on the Internet for this. My ingredients list is simply what I thought would be nice, so as usual, feel free to change bits of it to your own taste.

Ingredients

  • One large red chilli, deseeded, and very finely chopped
  • Lots of garlic! I put around four big cloves in mine – minced or crushed into a paste
  • 2tbsp cold water
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tbsp either white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar or lemon juice. I used red wine vinegar, which Gemma really liked, but I’m not a big fan of wine vinegars, so I’ll probably use lemon juice next time. Personal preference, ya see?
  • About 2tsp each of oregano and basil, fresh, chopped fine, and 1tsp of fresh thyme
  • A large handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1tsp salt, 1/2tsp freshly ground pepper

Recipe

The recipe is, as usual, quite simple. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl (as pictured at the top). The important part is that you need to leave the sauce covered and well alone in a fridge for as long as you can before using it – at least 3 hours, preferably a whole day. The flavours will combine, and it’ll be lovely. Try the sauce after that time – if it’s too oily, add lemon juice or vinegar (whichever you used).

To Serve

This sauce goes really well served over any rich meat. It’s traditionally served with steak, which is crackin’, but it goes great with salmon, mackerel, and so on. Whatever you combine it with, the sauce has a strong flavour – make sure you don’t kill the flavour of the meat. If you’re vegetarian, the only thing rich enough to take this sauce is probably avocado  – though if you’ve got some avocados, consider my Guacamole instead 😉

Chimichurri with rump steak
With steak...
Chimichurri with Salmon
...or salmon!