Look beyond stale buns, limp lettuce and tasteless patties – here’s how to elevate the humble burger into a gourmet, multi-layered feast this summer…
Sun’s Out, Buns Out
When it comes to putting together the perfect burger, the icing on the cake, so to speak, is undoubtedly the bun sandwiching it all together – and they’ve certainly come a long way in recent years. No longer content with a regular, bog-standard bread bun, food-lovers have been going crazy for toasted, butter-rich brioche alternatives, and most recently, bagels. Beyond the brioche, restaurants such as Roast (roast-restaurant.com) in London’s Borough Market are now serving a roast dinner burger in a potato bun; Bird (birdrestaurants.com) in Shoreditch serves theirs in a waffle and Yeah! Burger (sayyeahburger. co.uk) in King’s Cross tops theirs with a good-ole traditional Scotch egg – bun appetit!
Get in Line
You’ve got the all-important bun sorted, but in what order should you stack your ingredients? And at what stage should you add your condiments? After all, adding sauces too soon, or leaving them to the end, could result in a sloppy, stodgy bun – although that can often be part of the fun, too. Patty & Bun’s head chef Fred Trussel (pattyandbun.co.uk) argues that every decent burger should have between five and seven levels. “First, you should start with the bun, then add the ketchup and the lettuce to catch the juices from the burger,” he suggests. “Next, add your choice of patty, then any cheese, and finally, some sort of pickle and then mayo on top.”
Perfectly grilled beef patties will always have their place in our burgers (don’t miss M&S’ newly-launched ‘perfect burger’ containing bone marrow), but there’s also a lot to be said for increasingly popular street food favourites such as pulled pork, or seafood burgers packed with salmon or prawns. What’s more, brands such as Moving Mountains (movingmountainsfoods.com) are proving that vegetarian options doesn’t always have to be limited to a limp and soggy portobello mushroom – its newly-launched B12 Burger is 100% plant-based but looks, tastes and has the texture of meat. Try it for yourself at London’s Dirty Bones (dirty-bones.com)
Whether you like yours squeaky, smoky or oozing through the bun, cheese is a must-have. We love a strongly flavoured Cheddar that melts well, or a tangy blue such as Colston Bassett’s Shropshire Blue, and there’ll always be space in our burgers for a slice or two of Halloumi, or smoked cheese.
Move over ketchup and mustard – these days it’s all about pimping your burger with an assortment of vibrant sauces and dips, including sriracha, beetroot mayonnaise, and even wasabi hummus. Vegans are also well catered for with regards plant-based condiments these days – we particularly love Ruby in the Rubble’s aquafaba vegan mayo.
To be fair, you could fill your burger with just toppings alone; think salad, slaw, mac ‘n’ cheese, balsamic onions, pork belly, crispy bacon, fried eggs and more. Plus, one can never say ‘no’ to avocado in all its guises: guac, deep-fried, sliced – you name it. At Annie’s Burger Shack in Nottingham (anniesburgershack.com) ‘The Big Breakfast’ burger comes topped with a thick rasher of bacon and a free-range fried egg, while ‘The Delta’ is finished off with onion rings, black olives and jalapeňos – yum!
In terms of perfect drinks partners, we think a chilled, spicy saison beer, or a full-bodied red are just the things to pair with next-level burgers. For veggie options, try serving them with something lighter, such as a fruity rosé.