Cheeseburgers with Bacon & Red Onion Relish

I was tempted to call these Amazeburgers, because they’re just so, so, so good – this is one of those recipes that you just have to make. It’s pretty straightforward and yet it tastes fabulous. The addition of bacon to the burgers really punches up the flavour, and the rich red onion relish is wonderfully sweet and savoury at the same time. Paired with oven fries, jazzed up a bit with a sprinkling of oregano and parmesan, this makes a scrumptious meal worthy of a posh gastropub. Inspiration for this recipe comes from this lovely little blog which I found on Pinterest (and while you’re at it, have you checked out my Pinterest page yet?)

About 200g beef mince
2 rashers of smoked bacon
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil
For the relish:
1 red onion
2 rashers of smoked bacon
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A pinch of sugar
About 60ml water
½ tsp of Dijon mustard
To serve:
Burger buns
Cheddar cheese
Oven fries
Dried oregano
Gherkins (these are optional, of course, but I can’t eat a burger without a gherkin!)

Serves 2.

First of all, get started on your relish. Chop the bacon into pieces and pop it into a small saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil, then turn the heat up to medium high and stir until the bacon is starting to go crispy. Then scoop it out into a bowl and, without cleaning the saucepan, add a couple of knobs of butter. Turn the heat down to medium and then finely dice the red onion. Add that to the pan and let it sizzle gently for about ten minutes – you don’t want the onions to go crispy at all, just to slowly soften and darken, so make sure they’re not sticking (and if they are, add more butter).

While the onion is sizzling, you can prepare the mixture for the burgers. Chop the bacon and, using a couple of forks, mix it with the mince in a large bowl. Season well and add a good sprinkling of Worcestershire sauce – if you haven’t already got a bottle of this in the cupboard, it’s definitely worth buying as it’s perfect for adding that bit of je ne sais quoi to a recipe which seems lacking. It’s great in soups, stews and sauces, and it also goes beautifully with steak. Mix all the ingredients well and set to one side.

Once the onions are really soft and have darkened in colour, put the bacon back into the pan and add the balsamic vinegar, water, salt, pepper and sugar. Turn the heat up so that the mixture bubbles and leave the lid off so that it can reduce, but keep stirring and make sure it absolutely doesn’t start burning on the bottom. Keep a close eye on it until almost all of the liquid has thickened, then turn the heat right down (you could even turn the hob off), put the lid on, and leave it until ready to serve.

Now is the time to get your chips on – you can make your own if you’re feeling fancy, but I have to say that supermarket oven fries, dressed up a little, are perfectly good enough for me! The cooking time will depend on the type that you buy, but the Sainsburys oven fries which we buy tend to take about 10 minutes under the grill. Turn the heat up and just pop them in for now – add the flavourings a little later.

Once the chips are going, scrub your hands well and then shape the burger mixture into two patties about half an inch thick – remember that the burgers will shrink and get thicker as they cook, so you need to try and get them fairly thin to start with. Preheat a griddle pan (or a frying pan – a griddle pan is just good for keeping the meat slightly out of all the oily juices) and then pop the burgers in. Let them sizzle for a little while before you try flipping them over, so that they’ll have time to bind together with the heat – you don’t want them falling apart in the pan. Turn them as required, and keep an eye on the chips.

Once the fries are starting to look done, to your standards (whether you like them nicely 
golden, like me, or burnt to a crisp, like Mike), take them out from under the grill. Slice up some cheddar (don’t make the slices too thick) and pop on the top of the burgers, then slide the griddle pan under the grill for a few moments to get the cheese melting – just be careful to leave the handle sticking well out, particularly if it’s made of plastic or rubber! While the cheese melts, sprinkle the oven fries with salt, pepper, dried oregano and a little grated Parmesan, then swap the pans over again and put the griddle back on the hob, just while the Parmesan melts. At this point, you can also slice open your burger buns, add a fine scraping of butter, and pop them ‘face-down’ into the griddle pan to crisp up a little.

Finally, assemble the burgers in their buns and dress with a little relish before putting the tops on. Add a generous heap of crispy fries and serve up with a cold beer – fabulous.