This is a good way of using leftover cooked meat and can be used with beef, lamb, pork, chicken or turkey to good effect.
Consistent with the philosophy of healthy and economic food, this recipe contains a minimum variety of ingredients: inexpensively sourced, with no added salt or artificial additives, and no hydrogenated or otherwise adulterated items.
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Mise en place
This recipe requires cooked meat. Usually this can be obtained from leftovers from a roast. I prefer to keep the “tidy” slices for sandwiches or re-heating with sauce, but there are usually some scrappy and fatty odds and ends, and this is an indeal way of turning them into something appetising.
If cooked meat is not available, use raw meat, mince it and fry in a little oil, stirring and turning until cooked through but without browning strongly.
Before starting, make sure you have everything you need ready, as listed below. That includes: the ingredients; utensils; cookware etc The quantities of ingredients are flexible, so you can adjust as you like or according to the ingredients you have available.
- Cooked meat. To make about six medium burgers requires about 300g. If you don’t need all this at once, hold back some mixture from cooking and keep it in the ‘fridge.
- Dried bread. Use white or wholemeal, preferably a few days old (including crusts), or left out overnight in slices to dry. About 450g for the above quantity of meat.
- An egg. A medium egg should be enough to bind this quantity of mixture.
- Curry powder. A generous teaspoon of curry powder for the above quantities. Use whatever strength you prefer, mild, medium or strong.
- Cooking oil or olive oil. About a tablespoon for the above quantities, use as required.
- Tomato puree. A teaspoon for the above quantities works well if you are using pale meat such as chicken or turkey.
- Onion. Some don’t like onion, and too much can make the mix fragile, so be careful. Half a small onion, cut up fine should be enough for the above quantities.
- A clean worktop and hands.
- Mincer – either a hand mincer or a blender attachment.
- Mixing bowl large enough for the ingredients and hands.
- Optional big spoon to help form balls.
- Egg ring or circular pastry cutter to shape the patties. Or use hands to mould into balls.
- Frying pan, hob and skillet.
Part 1 – prepare the mixture
- Mince the meat and bread. I find it best to mince the meat first and then the bread, as the bread wipes out the machine and makes it easier to clean afterwards.
- Put the meat and bread in a bowl, add the egg, curry powder and other ingredients as you like and mix well with the fingers.
- Add a splash of oil and mix well.
- Test the mixture by taking a small fistful and squeezing. If the mixture then stays well together there is enough oil, otherwise add a splash more oil, mix well and test again.
- Use the spoon to portion the mixture into balls a bit bigger than golf balls. If using an egg ring or pastry cutter make sure there is plenty to fill it.
- Either press them into patties using the egg ring or pastry cutter on the chopping board, or press them later in the frying pan.
Part 2 – fry the burgers
- Pre-heat the frying pan with a little oil. I prefer olive oil but plain cooking oil is fine. You don’t need a lot, and I don’t even cover the bottom of the pan.
- When you place the first burger into the hot oil it should immediately sizzle. If not, carefully lift it out and wait for the oil to get hotter.
- Place any remaining burgers carefully into the hot oil and if necessary very gently squeeze them slightly flat using the back of the skillet. Don’t press too hard as that will break them up.
- There’s no need to make them look like something from a machine. Irregularities lend character to hand-made food.
- Leave for a few minutes, testing occasionally by lifting one to check for browning on the underside.
- When the undersides are lightly browned as you like them, carefully turn them over using the skillet and perhaps a clean finger.
- If all the oil has been soaked up, add more as necessary
- Leave for a similar time as before.
- While the meat has already been cooked, food should always be heated right through for safety.
- Remove the burgers onto pre-warmed plates.
This is comfort food for a snack, or it makes an unusal starter or barbecue option. Serve with veg if you want, and/or the usual Asian-style condiments.
The coarse but soft texture is interesting on the palate, and the full flavour of the meat comes through.
Note on preserving
For convenience the mixture can be prepared up to a few days before use and kept sealed in the fridge. The bread will then absorb more of the meat juices, and this will slightly change the texture. So if it seems dry add a little oil amd remix.
Don’t keep the cooked burgers. They are so quick to cook you should only finish those you expect to be eaten straight away.