James Whelan Butchers: Burgers

There’s nothing better in the summer than eating outdoors.  If you’re a fan of barbecuing then any excuse will have you outside wielding those long tongs and smoking up the air.   While we’re all about Barbecuing at James Whelan Butchers at present because of the ‘Tipperary BBQ Idol’ competition that’s ongoing for the month of July, it’s also a really great way to cook.  Ultimately it means less mess in the kitchen and if you prepare in advance dinner can be ready quickly and healthily.

Perfect burger

The Perfect Burger

While inviting friends and family around for the big weekend outdoor cooking extravaganza requires plenty of advance prep, for most of us it’s just about having something easy and different at the end of a long day.  Barbecuing can be kept simple and understated and is a great way to cook on the long summer evenings regardless of whether you plan to eat indoors or outdoors.  If you plan in advance and prepare the food early, the evening meal can be really simple.

Aside from steaks, it’s hard to imagine a barbecue without burgers but I’m trying to encourage everyone to make their own.  Once you try some of the homemade variety, grilled evenly over the hot coals, then you’ll never go back.  With a homemade burger you are getting much more flavour, there’s no strange additives or preservatives and you know exactly what has gone into the mix.  It’s the only way to control the salt and fat content.  Processed burgers deserve the bad press they get but the home made variety can sit proudly in a healthy, balanced diet and made correctly they can be very tasty.

When we think of burgers it’s more than likely that the steak variety will spring to mind.  Burgers, like meatballs, have plenty of variations.  You can use so many different kinds of meat from red meat to poultry and even fish. You can keep them mild and meaty or spice them up with Cajun flavours.   The added extras also add to the overall experience.  While the simplicity of a few rings of onion and a slice of cheese is always delicious, burger recipes these days can include marinades, spices, herbs and plenty of other extras.  And naturally the bun, while traditional, is not obligatory.

James Whelan Butchers homemade burgers

James Whelan Butchers homemade burgers

Burgers transcend age.  Adults and children alike are happy to tuck into a decent burger.  If you have kids in the house home made burgers are fantastic because you can make them bigger or smaller according to the size of your child’s hand, so ultimately they are less messy.  It is also a dish that can be customized and personalized with ease.  I have friends who include things like chopped garlic and peppers while others have been known to grate a little parmesan into the mix.  A recent recipe I found suggested using oyster sauce instead of salt, while some puritans wouldn’t dream of doing anything except using excellent quality mince, finely chopped onion and some seasoning.  Many won’t go past the traditional burger bun while others like experimenting with baps, ciabatta bread, pitta pockets or even soft floury blaas.

There are some rules however, that should be obeyed.  Never compromise on the quality of meat you are using, particularly mince meat, always buy the best you can afford.  Be conscious of the thickness of your burger; if it’s overly thick it will be overcooked on the outside and undercooked on the inside.  Burgers should have a consistency throughout; rare, medium or well done, but not all together.  Whatever your recipe, I find that it’s good to make a batch of burgers and leave them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour before cooking.   Once cooked, burgers should be treated like any other piece of meat and left to rest for about five minutes.

We all like to get a little ‘chefy’ now and then and build towers of food to impress people when serving.  The burger is perfect for this because it stacks rather well.  Rather than dress it, I like to lay out all the condiments, accompaniments and even salad leaves and just serve a simple undressed burger on a bun bed, leaving it to the individual to create the taste and textures they want.  Slices of cheese, crunchy onion rings, softly fried onion rings, crisp lettuce, warm bacon, scrambled eggs, chutneys and sauces – the list is endless and it’s all about imagination.

It’s always prudent to get a good basic burger recipe and then change it up as you see fit.  On the other hand you could always pop into James Whelan Butchers where we do a range of burgers ready to cook.  They have all the hallmarks of homemade burgers and they are made to our traditional and specific recipe.  What you’ll find is that they will cook well on a barbecue, retain their moistness and they won’t crumble or loose their shape.

If you do love to barbecue then don’t forget the Tipperary BBQ Idol running in conjunction with Tipp Fm and Dunnes Stores in the Oakville Shopping Centre.  Check it out on Facebook or visit www.jameswhelanbutchers.com to find out more.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Handweavers Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue, Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt, Rathmines and Swords in Dublin. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

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