Chutney beef burgers

The sands of time are slipping through my hands just now. I feel the quickened pace of things more keenly since I handed in my notice and started arranging plans, constantly flipping open my diary  to wonder how all these up-in-the-air ideas about ‘moving into food’ are going to filter down to the ground and leave me with enough projects and enough money to get myself started. It’s just that every time I do open those pages, I see hastily tacked post-it notes and rubbed out question marks all over the place so that I don’t actually, concretely, know what’s happening from one week to the next. Neither do I get the sense in all this rough-round-the-edges planning, that the summer’s got much left in it. Before I next look up, it’ll be November and I’ll be clawing under the fridge for the last of some breadcrumbs I dropped many months ago. I’m not going to starve, am I? Am I?

Amidst and around the 101 conversations I’m having with people at the moment  about what’s coming next and where I’m headed, who I’d like to collaborate with, when I’d like to meet to discuss and where I think each idea is leading, I’m having to actually remember to cook. I’ll be honest – I’m not doing a great deal of it at the moment. Food is on a bit of a back burner at the moment, despite being the very nub of all that I’m meant to be doing. I suppose the recent heat has had something to do with it, and the gathering of groups of people who all bear the responsibility of bringing food together in open spaces. I’m glad to be welcoming my friend Bex for supper tonight, and to to have the chance to try out some very Salad Club Stevie Parle and Alice Hart recipes, of which I’ll be sure to post. I experienced some hefty relief on Saturday too, when a girlfriend and I decided to up sticks at a Kent festival after only one night. We’d tried our best, having danced with the playing-at-drunk teens and linked-at-the-elbows girls in their outrageous hot pants and crop tops. The fifteen year-olds did not, we felt certain, make for a great party. So we rolled up our tent, retrieved our gin which we’d stashed beneath the shade of a car and taxied ourselves to Whitstable, where we enjoyed a much finer, calmer weekend in the sea. And with it, a farmers’ market and the chance to roll some hamburgers.

Don’t be alarmed by the rather random inclusion of fig chutney in these – once you taste it, it makes good sense and lends a sweet and sticky note to the meat, not unlike a barbecue marinade. And I only used fig chutney because that was what was at hand – feel free to try lamb mince with a little mint and lime pickle, or ground beef and onion marmalade.

Makes about 10 burgers depending on the size of yours – adjust as necessary.

Add around 600g of ground beef, or whichever meat you’re using, to a large bowl. Coarsely grate in a medium red onion and top with 2 or 3 tbsp of fig chutney or other preserve and the bruised leaves from a few fresh thyme sprigs. Add salt and pepper and a whisked egg. If you need the burgers to go further, soak some stale bread in milk and add to the mix. Work with your hands until combined and roll and pat between your hands into separate patties, making sure to pat back and forth to keep them sturdy and bound. Wrap them individually in cling film and refrigerate for an hour or so until the coals on the barbecue are ashen. Serve in a toasted bun with salad leaves, a lick more of chutney and a slab of goats’ cheese.


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