Homemade Beef Burgers with Bacon & Cheese

Recipe taken from Outdoor Cooking: River Cottage Handbook No.17 ( £10.68, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Meaty, succulent and utterly delicious, this is only beef burger recipe you’ll ever need – from River Cottage’s Gill Meller:


“Beef burgers are easy to knock up and always so much better than anything you can buy. These burgers are made with skirt steak, a flavoursome open-grained cut. I like to mince the steak with some beef fat or suet to give it extra moisture and a richer, beefier flavour. A crank-handled mincer works well – you see them at car boot sales all the time. If you don’t have a mincer, ask the butcher to mince the mix for you or, if push comes to shove, chop the meat and fat in a food processor. Get the fire really hot so that the bars of the grill char the burgers. This gives them character; it also helps to cook them fast and keeps them juicy. I serve them in buns with streaky bacon and Cheddar – the perfect partners in crime.”

  • 400g skirt steak
  • 100g fresh beef suet or beef fat
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
  • 1 heaped tsp fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • To assemble

  • 8 rashers of streaky bacon
  • About 150g good Cheddar
  • Pickled cucumbers or gherkins
  • 4 soft burger buns, lightly toasted
  • Mince the skirt steak and fat or suet together (see above), place in a large bowl and season with the thyme, salt and plenty of pepper. Use clean hands to mix the meat and seasonings thoroughly and bind the mixture together. Divide the seasoned beef into 4 portions and shape into burgers, each about 125g and no thicker than 2cm.
  • Slice the cheese and pickled cucumbers thinly. When everything is ready to go, get your fire going; you want a good deep bed of really hot embers. Set a grill over the fire.
  • Once everything is glowing super-hot, and you can hover your hand above the grill for 1 second at most, lay the burgers carefully on the grill. They should start to sizzle and smoke immediately. Cook for 2–3 minutes on each side. I like to serve the burgers just under medium but you can leave them on a minute or two longer. You need a searing heat, to ensure the burgers take on lots of colour and stay juicy.
  • A minute or so after turning the burgers, add the bacon to the grill. (At this point you should be able to hover your hand above the grill for a maximum of 4 seconds.) Cook until crisp on both sides. When the burgers are almost done, lay the cheese slices on top and let them melt. (Move the bacon to one side if it’s done.) Pop the burgers into the soft buns with the bacon rashers and pickled cucumbers and serve.
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