American Stuffed Cheeseburgers

Ah, I love the smell of the first new recipe in ages, don’t you? Onward, then. I was inspired for this recipe by one of the “diners” on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, on Food Network. (We spend far too much time watching that channel). I wondered – you can put normal cheese in the middle of burgers (as I have done), how about burger cheese? You know, American cheese, the flat, square stuff you have with most barbecues.

Well, it turns out, yes, you can do it, and yes, they’re delicious. In fact, some diner in America has done it already, so I came up with a recipe to do the same.

Ingredients

  • One 250g pack minced beef. Not too lean – you need the fat to keep the burgers moist
  • 1tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Two cloves garlic, crushed
  • Two spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • Two slices of burger cheese (you might know them as singles, American cheese slices, processed cheese, whatever!)
  • 1tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/2tsp salt, 1/2tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Recipe

Flatten into ovals, fold cheese into quarters and place as shown.
This one is fun! Combine the mince, olive oil, worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs and seasoning. Divide into two, and shape into flat, thin ovals, as shown on the right. Fold each cheese slice into quarters, and place about 1/3 of the way up on each oval.


...then fold over and squeeze edges together for yummy cheese goodness.
Next, fold the burger around the cheese, as shown on the right. Make sure you create a good seal around the edges, or the cheese will seep out (to be honest, it’ll do that anyway, but do your best).


Finally, get cooking! They take the normal amount of time on the grill, and when the cheese starts to seep out, you know you’re pretty close. Serve on a bun (or, as we did, a pitta) with salad and the usual ketchup, mustard and pickles. Yum.

Barbecue 19: July 10

Ah, only 11 barbecues to go! Alas, not long to do them in. But we’ll get there. So anyway, this is barbecue 19 of 30. No theme, just good food, good friends and nice beer. Tweeters in attendance this time included James and Jay with Laura, who’s a vegetarian! Given my lacklustre response for vegetarian attendees in the past, I came up with a recipe for vegetarian mushroom burgers this time. Mmm.

Mmm, a little cloudy.

Weather

Not too bad. Sunny in the day time, but pretty overcast when people arrived. It cleared eventually, so we stayed outside for most of the evening.

I love my barbecue :)

Food

Right then. For the non-veggies, a treat was in store. Gemma had suggested a burger involving turkey and sundried tomatoes, so I came up with one involving mozzarella too. Very well received, I must add. Also on the menu were steak kebabs. I’m not going to include a separate recipe as they’re quite similar in preparation to Greek Lamb Kebabs, but instead the steak (simple stewing steak) was marinaded in red wine, red onion, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. We also had a few pork sausages from the freezer.

And now for the veggie stuff! I still haven’t gotten around to buying a separate barbecue for vegetarian guests so I used a disposable one (this one was from Tesco, and behaved rather better than usual). It lasted for quite a while, so if you have to use disposable barbecues, there’s my recommendation.

I only made the kebabs. Sorry.
Apart from the usual veggie fare (potato, cheese and leek sausages – which stick to the grill, and quorn burgers) we did a couple of kebabs minus the meat, drizzled with a bit of oil and lime juice, and some garlic and chilli mushroom burgers. I was pleasantly surprised with how well these came out, even on a cheap grill. Recommended!

Next time I’m planning on coming up with some other veggie burgers. I’ve had a couple of suggestions, but please send them this way if you have more!

Turkey and Sundried Tomato Melting Mozzarella Burgers

I need to work on my burger naming schemes. That much is clear. But I really wanted to sell everything in these burgers, because they’re rather nice! Credit for the idea goes to Gem who thought turkey and sundried tomatoes would go (she’s right)!

Ingredients

Makes 8 large burgers

  • 500g turkey mince
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • Two large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1tsp each fresh oregano and thyme, finely chopped
  • 1tsp rock salt, 1/2tsp black pepper
  • Four large Sundried Tomatoes (I used ones preserved in oil), finely chopped
  • 1tbsp breadcrumbs
  • One fresh mozzarella ball

Recipe

Combine all of the ingredients except for the mozzarella. The sundried tomatoes are really the key flavour here, and they’re complimented well by the basil and garlic.

Turkey and Sundried Tomato Melting Mozzarella Burgers. I should think of a shorter name.
You should find that the mix divides into eight to give generous burgers. But that’s not all! Take your mozzarella, and chop it into cubes about half an inch in diameter. With each eighth of the burger mixture, produce a flattened ball in your hands, pop a couple of mozzarella cubes into the middle, and fold the burger around the cheese, re-forming it into a burger shape. None of the cheese should be showing.

The burgers need the normal five minutes-or-so per side on the barbecue, turning once only. They’re ridiculously good (of course, if they were bad, I wouldn’t post them here)…

Barbecue 18: June 28

Hello, barbecue fans! It’s time for… *drumroll* … another barbecue. This one featuring rain! We haven’t done it for a while, so this time we decided upon a good old roast chicken on the barbecue. Doubters, prepare to have your doubts cast asunder.

A parasol in a plastic chair, at an angle. I know - inspired.

Weather

That’s right: rain! I can’t believe I was a little excited about it. It hasn’t rained for the past 17 barbecues, so we used our ingenuity to shield the barbecue from rain whilst allowing it to continue cooking. They don’t call me ‘bearded’ for nothing, you know. Wait, that doesn’t work…

Anyway, the rain wasn’t bad enough that we were forced to give up, but Gemma did insist on eating inside. Oh well. It still counts.

Food

Usually, when we barbecue it’s just a case of “put the coals in the middle, put the food on top”. However, if you’re going to cook a roast chicken, that won’t work. As you might imagine, the heat from underneath would cook the chicken out before the top was even browned – not good. The solution is to have the heat coming from the sides of the barbecue (in barbecuing terminology, this is known as indirect heat cooking). It so happens that if you use a charcoal chimney, it’s much easier to do this. Most Weber barbecues come with guide rails to fit into the charcoal grate, so that you can keep the charcoal pushed to the sides, as shown in this picture. If you don’t have the rails, it’s not that important – just try to make two even piles either side.

All ye doubting thomases, repent. It's really nice.
Put a tray underneath what you’re cooking (the chicken) – this catches the drips, which stops your barbecue going rusty, and you can add flavours to it (wine or beer are good). Alas, I forgot to do this. Oh well, I’ll have to buy a new Weber… :) Right! Chicken on the cooking grate, in the middle of the charcoal. Lid on! This recipe doesn’t work if you don’t have a kettle barbecue that closes – the charcoal generates an oven. In my experience, a 1kg chicken takes about an hour, and comes out very succulent, and smokey flavoured. This time, I stuffed the cavity with 3 crushed garlic cloves, some oregano, thyme and lemon balm, and just seasoned and oiled the outside of the bird.

Towards the last ten minutes of cooking you can put other things directly onto the heat to cook – we did a few burgers. Of course, we didn’t eat this in one go. For dinner that evening was about half a chicken breast and a burger, with some salad. The rest was spread out over the week for packed lunches. Genius.

If you do have a kettle barbecue, I implore you to try this. You won’t regret doing so!

Barbecue 17: June 24

Hot off the heels of our June 23 barbecue, we cooked for Gem’s mum and sister this time. I even made some new beef burgers (I know, you’re excited)!

Yeah, yeah. It's hot, we know.

Weather

The usual gorgeous sunshine. Ah, the perils of barbecuing in summer. But wait – in Barbecue 18, there’s rain!

Food

Enough to feed a small army! But no complaints. We bought some lamb loin steaks from our usual orange-branded-supermarket-where-life-tastes-better, along with some chicken legs and thighs. The lamb can be cooked straight away on the barbecue, and took about six minutes per side for medium rare. Chicken with bones in, however, is a pain on the barbecue, as I’ve mentioned before. I’m willing to bet at least one person reading this has felt the ill-effects of undercooked chicken as a result. So, I’m always careful to precook chicken – I give it about 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees celsius in the oven. This is enough to colour it well, and cook it almost completely. Then it goes on the barbecue for about 8 minutes, turning once – that way, you get the charred meat and smoky flavour (nice), but you lose the salmonella (always good).

And of course, I couldn’t do a barbecue for other people without making some effort. So I came up with Italian Melting Mozzarella Burgers (hardly a genius flash of inspiration, but they tasted bostin’), which were very popular.

We rounded this off with our trademark cous-cous, guacamole (goes great with chicken) and salad. All in all, a really nice afternoon!

Cous-cous, guacamole, and... oh yeah. Great meats :)

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!

Barbecue 16: June 23

Not much to tell here, folks! Barbecue 16 was really just a casual “got home from work and felt like it” thing. We had a few things in the freezer to use up, and a bit of salad to go with it. They don’t all have to be themed and exciting, you know 😉

Weather

Sunny, warm and dry. Perfect barbecuing weather (yes, I haven’t done a rainy one yet – sorry).

Food

Like I said, there wasn’t anything special in this barbecue. We had some rather nice beef and herb (the herbs being coriander, oregano and thyme) burgers from Sainsbury’s, and some chicken breasts, with a couple of sausages we needed to use up. We’ve gone back to using briquettes as opposed to lumpwood, which really works very badly with the Charcoal Chimney. Equates to about £2.50 for two barbecues, which can’t be sniffed at.

Chicken, sausages (one for the dog) and burgers. Simple.
Anyway. I didn’t mess with the food much, but I made a dry rub for the chicken with a teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and tandoori curry powder (cheating, sorry), and half a teaspoon each of powdered ginger and dried garlic. Again, these last two are often seen as cheat ingredients. But when you don’t want something that needs chopping/grating, or you want something that will stick well to wet food, they’re great. The spice rub was left on the chicken for 20 minutes or so, and really permeated the meat.

We served the burgers in pitta breads with the usual salad-and-burger-cheese accompaniments. All good, and it’s onto barbecue 17!


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!

Barbecue 14: June 7, mon!

You might have guessed from the title that we were feeling a little Caribbean on Saturday, so we invited a bunch of folk round (including James, Steph, Mark, Jen, and some regular non-tweeting folk) and applied a theme: Jamaica. I came up with a few new recipes, and there were even some guest contributions. Bashment! (Okay, enough Jamaican words).

Hmm. Rain a-comin'.

Weather

The closest to rain we’ve had! Hit-and-miss all day, but thankfully the rain stayed off until (literally) ten minutes after we finished cooking.

Food

Well, this was a good one! For a start, Mark brought his very delicious coffee-rubbed pork tenderloin with watermelon salsa. Alas, he hasn’t given me a recipe yet, but I’ll bully it out of him, mmkay?

Ad with an 'action shot' of my Jamaican Pork Burgers.
Also on the savouries menu: Jamaican Pork Burgers with Caribbean Mango Salsa, Caribbean Chicken Kebabs, and venison sausages we happened to have (not Jamaican. Sorry). Alas, due to other beer-related things, I didn’t take many pictures (not even my trademark picture of all the food on the grill). However, the pictures in those recipes linked above are all from the barbecue.


Yum. But clean the grill first. (Sorry about the blur)
We finished with a rather nice dessert thought up by Jen (with, I believe, a little help from a cookery book). Start with sliced pineapple, grilled on the barbecue until it has scorch marks (note: best clean the barbecue with a wire brush first. We realised this the hard way). Put each grilled slice into a bowl, douse with a dessert spoon of rum, top with coconut ice cream and passion fruit pulp, and sprinkle with desiccated coconut. It’s <insert Jamaican word for “quite nice”> here. Thanks, Jen!

So that’s the Jamaican adventure done with. Any suggestions for the next one? We’re thinking Mexican…

Barbecue 13: Unlucky for some…

…well, I had to call it that, didn’t I?

Just a simple one, this: we went for a couple of good meat dishes on the barbecue, and learned important things about the fuel you should use with a charcoal chimney.

Weather

Sunny, the end of another warm day. Sometimes I think I only write this part of each post to show off my twilight-picture-taking skills…


Mmm, spicy beef...

Food

We had some minced beef left over, and some sausages in the freezer from earlier barbecues. That led rather conveniently to Spicy Beef Burgers and sausages. Not much to it, but hey, it still counts 😉

However, I have a cautionary tale! We used some of the lumpwood charcoal we’ve accumulated over the years with our charcoal chimney. Not recommended! On the good side, it works really well with newspaper, sets fire almost instantly and is ready to cook with quicker than briquettes. But… it’s rubbish. It lasts nowhere near as long as briquettes, and (more importantly) it falls through the cone grate in the chimney, meaning a good heat can’t be sustained (and also meaning if you have to light a second batch over on your patio, you need a spade to carry the coals over. Nightmare.

So, a word to the wise: use briquettes if you have a charcoal chimney!