Lucy’s little lamb burgers

The world – or at least the part of it I live in – has gone burger mad. Not only are more than 60 Wellington restaurants battling it out to win Burger Wellington 2012, but McDonald’s have introduced a new lamb burger to their menu, using New Zealand lamb.
I can’t vouch for the McDonald’s burger (please don’t ask me to) but I’m happy to give you my own recipe. We’ve been eating these baby burgers a lot lately – they’re about a quarter of the size of a ‘proper’ burger but still very filling. You’ll have to wait for the upcoming issue of Frankie to see how to make the baby buns – but in the meantime, here’s how I construct our little lamb burgers.

Little Lamb Burgers

Little lamb burgers
You don’t have to make these with lamb – in fact, the last time I made them I used a mixture of beef and lamb mince (a combination due in part to shopping sans glasses). The secret is to handle them as little as possible. Don’t go squishing the mince in your hands for fun, treat it like you would a delicate fillet of fish (that’s fillet, not a ‘filet of fish’).

500g good lamb mince
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 red onion, finely chopped
about 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Mix everything together and shape into flattish small balls – about 50g each. Line a tray with baking paper and put the burgers on top. Cover loosely and put in the fridge until about 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook them.
To cook, either heat a heavy pan and fry them in a little oil, or bake them at 200C for about 15 minutes, turning once to brown both sides. I think the panfrying method gives a slightly better result, but baking has the benefits of being hands-free.

To assemble, spread a baby bun with hummus, then top with a tangle of baby salad leaves, a slice of beetroot (essential in a Kiwi burger), the burger, a dollop of redcurrant jelly or chutney and the bun ‘lid’. For a beef burger, ditch the beetroot and add a slice of blue cheese.

Have you sampled any Burger Wellington offerings yet? Don’t miss the one at Cafe Polo – it’s the best burger I’ve ever eaten.

Chipotle mayo and tomato sauce

I don’t know about where you are, but chipotle peppers have become very cool in a mainstream ‘now-available-at-your-supermarket’ sort of way. I’ve been reading about them for years in American books and was really excited to find them in the supermarket last year. I got the tin home, popped the lid off and shoved one in my mouth. Steam blew out of my ears for the next 30 minutes, which was about enough time to wonder why I’d neglected to realise that a dried and smoked jalapeño would be hotter than hell.

Since then I’ve been cautiously adding them to all sorts of things, but the best discovery so far is this one – chipotle mayonnaise. I made a huge vat of it to pour over homemade frites at the Small Girl’s party. It took all my willpower not to just retire to my bed with a bowl of it and a spoon – and I actually took the leftovers to a work colleague because I just didn’t trust myself with it.

Chipotle Mayonnaise
You might remember a post I did last year on how easy it is to make mayonnaise by hand. I stand by that claim, but if you’re making a lot I think there’s no shame in harnessing technology. No point in having that Magimix if it just collects dust, after all. I made double this amount for the party – the quantities below are more manageable unless you have a serious mayo habit (or a lot of friends).

2 free range egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, crushed to a paste with 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp wine vinegar
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (plus a bit of the sauce)
3/4 cup oil (I use 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup canola)

Put everything except the oil in a food processor and whiz to combine. Put the oil in a little jug. Turn the processor on and let the oil dribble in, very, very slowly, then gradually increase the volume to a thin stream, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Stop the machine and taste – add a little more adobo sauce, salt, or vinegar to taste and pulse again to mix. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Now, not everyone likes mayonnaise, so I put a jug of tomato sauce on the table too. This is even easier than the mayo – saute a bit of finely sliced garlic in a slosh of olive oil until it’s golden, then tip in a few tins of tomatoes. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer away gently for an hour or so, until it’s thick and your house smells delicious.