Green Thai Chicken Burgers

As tasty as it looks.
Yum!
Well, hello there. It’s been about nine months since my last post, when Gemma and I completed our 30-barbecue challenge. We’ve barbecued plenty since, but this year there’s no challenge (what with moving house, and a thesis to finish, we’re rather short on time). Nevertheless, there have been some great new recipes for you to try out, and this one is no exception!

Having been inspired by a Thai green curry I had a few weeks ago, I decided to attempt some Thai burgers, along a similar principle. Actually making chicken burgers involves acquiring chicken mince, which is quite difficult to come by (most butchers don’t do it, because it’s too wet). If you can’t find any, mincing your own with a food processor and chicken breasts will do fine, and turkey is perfectly adequate (though will be a little drier). Anyway, it’s barbecue season – give this a try!

Ingredients

Thai food tends to have a few key ingredients which set it apart from, say, Chinese food:

Makes four burgers

  • 300g chicken mince (use turkey mince if you can’t find chicken, and more if you like big burgers. Obviously)
  • Half a red onion or one small shallot, very finely chopped
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, very finely chopped. If you can get its relative galangal, for a more authentic Thai flavour, do so.
  • Two fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce (trust me. It won’t make your burgers fishy)
  • Half a Thai green chilli. These are the hot little chillies you can find in supermarkets. If you can’t find one, use a whole, regular green chilli.
  • A small handful of coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped
  • The zest of one lime
  • One stick of lemongrass
  • Natural breadcrumbs, as needed (you may not need any, if you use turkey)

Recipe

Quite a list! Luckily, they’re quite easy to put together. Begin by preparing the lemongrass – it’s rather woody and tough on the outside, so top and tail it, and take the first couple of layers off, discarding them. Chop it as finely as you can, then combine it with the chopped coriander, onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Add the salt and lime zest.

Combine this mix with the chicken, and add the fish sauce. You should have a fairly wet mixture. If so, add breadcrumbs until the mixture can be moulded into burgers easily. Divide the mix into four burgers, make a dimple in the middle on both sides (which stops them rounding out as they cook), and cook for around five minutes per side on the barbecue. Delicious!

Great with a chilli, soy and lime dressing. Oh yeah.

Dry Rubbed Slow-Roast Pork Shoulder

Oh yeah. This is one of those things that you’ll cook, and go back to again and again. Honestly, one of the nicest things I think I’ve made – so many compliments, and I’m so happy with it. Apologies for being late with the recipe – things have been a little busy, to say the least!

Ingredients

This is a long one…

  • One 2kg pork shoulder joint. Get bone-in if you can – the joint cooks quicker and will be juicier. I couldn’t.
  • 2tbsp sweet smoked paprika. Quite important to get the sweet stuff.
  • 1tbsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 1tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1tbsp garlic powder (really, it’s great)
  • 2tsp ground coriander
  • 1tbsp salt, 1tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp powdered ginger
  • 1tbsp dried mixed Italian herbs. You can get these in one go at the supermarket, but otherwise use a combination of thyme, oregano and rosemary. I’d actually go for dried over fresh in this case.

Recipe

Damn, my mouth is watering already. Like I said, if you can get a shoulder with the bone in, do. I couldn’t find one, so I got a good tied shoulder joint, with the skin already slit (this makes great crackling). Pat the pork dry using kitchen towel. Next, combine all the other ingredients above.

Liberally rub the dry rub onto the pork, making sure every bit is covered well. Some will come off, so rest the meat in a bowl, rolling it around in the other ingredients. Leave this to marinade for at least two hours.

Now for the cooking! As it’s nearly October, I’d understand if you didn’t want to barbecue this. It does work really well, though. In the oven, I’d guess about 3 hours on a slow, long roast at about 160 degrees. The thing with pork shoulder is that you want it really juicy and tender, and to get that, you need a slow roast. Leaving it on for several hours in a low oven is a great way to achieve that.

Soooo goooood...
But… you don’t get the smoky goodness! “Won’t it cook on the outside before on the inside, Matt?” you say. No! Because I used… that’s right… the indirect method. This is the only way to slow-cook pork on the barbecue. Charcoal on either side of the barbecue, leaving the centre charcoal-free. Put the pork in the middle, and leave it. Go out and do something, and come back in 3-4 hours. As long as you don’t open the barbecue, it will still be hot when you get back, and the pork will be deliciously moist and tender.


Don’t forget to (a) make sure the meat is done and (b) rest it wrapped in foil for 20 minutes before serving it! Cut into the deepest part – it’s best served shredded up anyway – to make sure there’s no pink remaining.

Seriously, you’re gonna love this. Give it a try – it’s my last recipe of the year!

Pork and Fennel Burgers

It’s new recipe time, barbecue fans. This one is for some burgers whose recipe I’ve poached from my good friend Mark and modified to suit me. I think you’ll rather enjoy them. It turns out that fennel is very good friends with pork…

Ingredients

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • Half a green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • One medium egg, beaten
  • 1tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/4tsp fennel seeds, ground with a pestle and mortar

The amount of fennel seems too low to call these burgers “Pork and Fennel”, but you’ll see. It has a very dominating flavour, so you have to be careful not to use too much. But if you think you’d like more, be my guest. Just make sure it’s nearly powdered in your pestle and mortar.

Oh yeah, they're as good as they look.

Recipe

Combine all of the ingredients! As usual, don’t add the egg and breadcrumbs until last, and breadcrumbs first – you don’t know how much egg you’re going to need for the burger to form easily and not break apart. You should get four large burgers, or five normal-sized burgers, out of this mixture. Use the normal method – roll each portion into a ball, and then flatten the ball into a burger.

On the barbecue, about five minutes per side, to ensure they’re cooked through. Great with the normal burger accompaniments!

Bacon-Wrapped Roquefort Chicken

Everyone’s done chicken breasts. So, this is a pretty simple recipe, with a couple of twists. Like chicken? Like bacon? Like cheese? You’re gonna love it.

Ingredients

  • Two free-range chicken breasts
  • Four slices of smoked streaky bacon
  • Two sprigs rosemary, and a few leaves of basil
  • About 50g roquefort cheese, or your preferred cheese (mozzarella works, too)

Recipe

Quite simple, this one. The hardest part is the first bit – cut a hole in the chicken breast! Use a sharp knife, and cut through the long side, but not all the way through – make a pocket. Stuff your cheese in there, and the basil.

It's gooooood.
The idea is that the bacon seals the cheese in. So, place the rosemary sprig on, and then wrap two slices of bacon around each breast, ensuring you’ve covered the cheese. You know the rule – if cheese can leak out, it will.

Now it’s up to you how you cook the chicken on the barbecue. I tried on top of some foil, but didn’t get enough colour on the bacon. In the end I put the meat directly on the grill. Yes, you lose some cheese that way, but you get colour and flavour.

Give this one a try; whether on the barbecue or not, we’ve been doing it for a few years, and it goes really well with a simple salad.

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.

Milano Chicken

This recipe couldn’t be much simpler. We’ve tried it a couple of times in the oven, and it’s really good, so thought we’d give it a shot on the barbecue. Surprise surprise, it’s better. This possibly qualifies for the least ingredients of any recipe I’ll ever write.

Ingredients

  • Two chicken breasts, preferably free-range. Other joints will be fine, too
  • 2-3 tablespoons good quality basil-based pesto (make your own if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

Recipe

Remove any skin from the chicken pieces. Using a sharp knife, cut slits about one third deep into the chicken – this means it will cook more quickly, and be more flavourful. Place the chicken pieces in a small bowl.

Mmm. I think that about covers it.
Get the chicken thoroughly covered in the pesto, top and bottom. Now, leave the bowl of chicken in the fridge for at least four hours: this makes a huge difference to the end result.

When you’re ready to cook, sprinkle the top of each chicken piece with parmesan. Place on the barbecue, with the non-parmesan-covered side cooking first. Turn after 5-6 minutes and cook for a further 5-6 minutes. The chicken should look like the picture on the right when done.

Simple, and very delicious. Give it a try!

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)…

Garlic and Chilli Mushroom Burgers

Yes that’s right folks – this recipe is vegetarian! I’ve been getting a few requests to come up with a vegetarian burger recipe, and I’ve done so at last. Strictly speaking, it’s not a burger. But you can eat it like one, and it’s bloody nice.

Ingredients

  • One pack of 3-4 large flat mushrooms. I used field mushrooms; portabella ones would work well too.
  • A quarter of a pack of soft unsalted butter (you can use salted butter; just leave the salt out later)
  • Half a large red chilli, chopped finely
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half a small red onion, chopped finely
  • A teaspoon each of fresh thyme and oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe

First off, a couple of important things. Don’t wash the mushrooms! If they’re dirty, brush them dry using a pastry brush, or such. Washing them makes them absorb water, which is a recipe for stewed mushrooms (not good).

Second, make sure your butter is soft. Leave it out of the fridge for a couple of hours. It’ll need to chill again for about an hour after you’re done.

I know, it doesn't look great. But it tastes great.
Right! On with the recipe. Combine all of the ingredients above, except for the mushrooms. That should give you a fairly flavour-packed butter. Now to re-chill it so that it’s easier to use later. Grab yourself some cling film, and dollop all of your butter in the middle. Roll the cling film around the butter, twisting in at the end, so that you can get a rough, thick sausage shape (see mine to the right – it looks rubbish, but you get the idea). Put this in the fridge for an hour or so. When fairly hardened, take off the cling film and slice the butter sausage into between six and eight rounds.

When you’re ready to cook, start by placing the mushrooms on the grill, bottom-side-down, for about five minutes (less if you’re not using a crappy portable barbecue, as I was):

Turn the mushrooms. Put two of those butter slices on each mushroom, and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. The butter will melt into the mushroom gills, which absorb the flavour wonderfully.

Garlic Chilli Mushroom Burgers. Yum. Plus veggie bonus points!
You’re pretty much done! Treat the mushroom like a burger and serve it with cheese on a bun. Even for a non-veggie like me, these are fantastic!

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.