a really good hamburger

photo Marina Oliphant


The humble hamburger is shaking off its bad “fast food” reputation. Attitudes are changing as good quality burger joints are popping up and glamorous burgers are making appearances on smart restaurant menus.

A great burger is a combination of many different elements. First, start with the meat. Get some top quality steak minced coarsely by your butcher. Chuck is my choice as it has a good meaty flavour with enough fat that it remains moist when you cook it (and is very forgiving if it is a little over cooked). The coarse mince gives an open texture, which makes for a tender patty. Purists may opt for nothing more than the meat and a little salt to season, but I find this is more difficult to form into a stable patty. Add whatever flavours you prefer. Make sure to refrigerate the patties as this helps firm them up before cooking.

The next part to consider is the bun. Choose a bun that is soft enough to encase the burger, but stable enough to hold it all together. In my opinion, it needs to be toasted, as this not only contributes flavour and texture, it stops the bread going soggy from the meat juices.

Now, for the filling. Again, use good quality ingredients and you can’t really go wrong. Crisp lettuce and ripe tomatoes will do the trick and balance the richness of the meat.

For the sauce, I have opted for a simple beetroot relish.

And no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t go past some fat chips on the side.

Use Russet Burbank potatoes and make sure you par cook them first, then fry twice for super crunchy chips.

Although I probably can’t convince you (or myself) that my burger ticks all the healthy boxes, when made with really good quality ingredients, it’s a delicious treat.


Classic Hamburger


Go to the effort of getting freshly minced meat from your butcher. Try chuck, oyster or even wagyu, if you’re trying hard to impress. Ask for a coarse grind.


2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

600g good quality coarse minced chuck steak

dash worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp tomato relish

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

4 slices good quality cheddar cheese

4 rashers bacon

4 soft burger buns

2 ripe tomatoes, sliced

8 fresh lettuce leaves

beetroot relish to serve (recipe below)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan over medium heat and cook onion for 5 minutes until softened and lightly coloured. Set aside to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, mix mince with worcestershire sauce and tomato relish and season with salt and pepper. Add cooked onion and egg and mix well.

Take a small spoonful of mixture and cook this to test the seasoning. Adjust if necessary.

Shape remaining mixture into 4 large patties with your hands. The patty should be slightly larger than the bun, as it will shrink when it cooks.

Place the shaped patties on a flat plate, cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to help them become firm.

Place a large heavy based pan over high heat, add 1 tbsp oil and gently place burger patties in pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook burgers for 5 minutes on one side, then carefully flip over to cook the other side. Place a slice of cheese on top of each, to melt as the burger cooks. Cook on second side for a further 4-5 minutes.

As the patties cook, grill or panfry bacon rashers until crispy. Place on top of burger patties.

Split bread buns in half and grill the cut sides until crisp and toasty.

Assemble the burgers, adding lettuce, tomato and relish.

Skewer with a jaunty sprig of fresh rosemary for a fancy garnish.

Serves 4.

Fat chips


photo Marina Oliphant


Cut the potatoes thick, so you get the contrast of the crunch with the light fluffy potato inside. Look out for Russet Burbanks. The sugar content causes them to caramelise and brown when frying, resulting in a superior chip.


1.4 kg Russet Burbank potatoes

vegetable oil for deep frying

sea salt to season

Peel potatoes and cut into thick 1.5cm lengths.

Place in a medium saucepan filled with cold water and bring to the boil.

Cook until tender when a sharp knife is inserted.

Remove from heat, drain well and pat dry.

Place in a single layer on a tray lined with paper towel and refrigerate until cold.

Heat oil in a deep fryer to 140C.

Cook chips in batches for 3-4 minutes, until sealed and slightly coloured.

Remove and place on wire rack to drain.

Increase heat to 180C and return chips to the hot oil. Cook for a further 5-6 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove and drain on fresh paper towel.

Season with sea salt and serve immediately.

Beetroot relish


photo Marina Oliphant


It’s not really an Aussie burger unless it’s got beetroot. Here is a quick relish, which adds a sweet and sour flavour to the burger and cuts through the richness of the meat, bacon and cheese.


3 medium beetroots (about 400g)

1 orange, juice and zest

½ (half) cup brown sugar

1 cup vinegar

Wearing protective gloves, peel beetroot, then coarsely grate in a food processor or box grater.

Place in medium pot with the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Makes approximately 1 ½ cups.



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