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Hearty winter dinners

Homemade burgers


10g (˝oz) butter
75g (2ľoz) onion, finely chopped
450g (1lb) minced beef - make sure the meat has a bit of fat in it, if not the burgers will be very dry when cooked
˝ teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Ciabatta bread
Lettuce leaves
Mayonnaise mixed with Ballymaloe Country Relish

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat until the onion is soft and pale golden. Take off the heat and leave to get cold. Meanwhile, mix the mince with the herbs and egg and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooled onions and mix. Fry a tiny bit of the mixture in the frying pan to taste it and check for seasoning. Then shape the remaining mixture into hamburger patties and cook on the frying pan with a little olive oil on a medium heat. Turn over halfway through cooking. You might need to turn the heat down so as not to burn the burgers. If you're cooking a couple of batches of burgers, clean the pan between batches. While the burgers are cooking, split the ciabatta horizontally and toast under the grill. Then put a lettuce leaf in the bread, some mayonnaise with relish and some Cucumber Pickle. Pop the hot cooked burger inside and eat.

NOTE: When shaping the burgers, make sure that they aren't too thick. If they are they will take too long to cook on the inside and may get too charred on the outside.
NOTE: If you like, you can brown the burgers on both sides on the pan, then transfer into a moderate oven (180°C/350°F/gas 4) until they're cooked. If you want them well cooked they should feel firm in the centre.
NOTE: Don't be afraid to experiment with the flavouring here. Beef burgers are delicious with some chopped chilli and coriander instead of the parsley and thyme, or try adding some cayenne pepper, ground cumin and coriander to burgers made with minced lamb. These spicy burgers would be great served with some sweet chilli sauce, which you can buy in stores. In fact, you can even put some sweet chilli sauce (about 1 tablespoon) and 1 deseeded and chopped fresh chilli into the raw burger mixture instead of herbs. The possibilities are endless!

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