Up and out early this morning to what felt like Winter, again. All of 6°C (42.8°F) for the middle of April, with strong winds and spits of raindrops. Okay, after lunch sunshine did break through, only to be followed by hailstones and a massive thunderstorm. Good ol’ British weather. Dontcha just luv it! Because of it I’m back to needing comfort food, again.
Anyway, when I was going through art school, aeons ago, I used to eat in a local café appropriately named Johnny’s. My favourite of their daily specials was Viennese burgers served with a gravy, caramelised onions and chips. So, as I couldn’t make the meatloaf (I can’t get my hands on caraway seeds) I thought of recreating this. Having said that, their burger was never made with lots of fresh parsley. I love the stuff, and can’t eat enough of it. And, for the first time here I was able to buy a large bunch of fresh earlier (thinking parsley sauce for midweek…hmm). Instead of those feeble ‘living pots’ that never have enough flavour, unless you buy thyme or sweet basil.
Update: Last night I suddenly realised that I shouldn’t be researching this recipe in English. So, eventually today I found out their name in Austrian: Faschierte Laibchen. Just don’t ask me to pronounce that! I was actually on the right track, most of the time. Would never have guessed the herb used is marjoram: partly as it’s a long time since I’ve had them. There will be regional variations, like adding fresh ginger. Tried that today and it works. Whether ginger will work with marjoram I don’t know. Shall find out tomorrow.
Marjoram is one of my favourite dried herbs for certain robust, as I call them, salads. So! Beetroot, mackerel, hard-boiled egg and marjoram salad over the weekend, then.
Viennese Burgers, with caramelised onions, home-made gravy and mash
- rapeseed oil
- 250g (8.81 oz) x onions, peeled, quartered and sliced crossways thinly (to be caramelised)
- 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, peeled and finely chopped (for the burger mix)
- 250g (8.81 oz) x minced/ground beef
- 2 x medium garlic cloves, crushed/minced
- 25g (0.88 oz) x fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped
- 1 x teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to personal taste
- 1 – 2 x teaspoon dried marjoram
- 2 x slices either white bread or rolls, cute into small cubes and soaked in a little milk and excess squeezed out (I’m going to be using wholemeal soaked in a little stock) OR 45g (1.58 oz) x breadcrumbs, or more to eek this out even further
- 1/4 x teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 – 2 x medium eggs, beaten/whisked
- finely grated nutmeg, about 1/4 x scant teaspoon – and a little bit more for coating, about a pinch for each burger
- 1/2 – 1 x capful balsamic vinegar, for the caramelised onions – optional
- 1/3 x teaspoon honey, for the onions
- olive oil, for the carrots
- 1 x teaspoon honey, if glazing the carrots
FOR THE GRAVY:
- 2 x carrots, peeled and cut in half
- 140g (4.93 oz) x onion, peeled and cut into 6 segments
- 40g (1.41 oz) x green part of leek, sliced in half and thoroughly washed
- 3 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and cut into large pieces
- 1 x garlic clove, kept whole
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
- 6 – 10 x parsley stalks, washed and trimmed
- 1 x organic beef stock cube
- 400ml (0.84 pt US Liq) x water
- 1 x tablespoon oil, either rapeseed or olive
- 1½ x tablespoon plain (AP) flour
- 1/2 – 1 x capful balsamic vinegar, for the gravy – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Prep the onions for the burgers, place a large heavy-based pan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6) and when pan is hot enough pour in enough oil to coat its base. Add the onions and stir through often. When starting to take on a pale golden colour turn heat down to No 1 as then it’s not as necessary to stir continuously. Allow to pan-fry for as long as possible, adding a splash of water to prevent them from drying out. When nicely golden take off heat and transfer to a suitable bowl for all of the burger ingredients. I used this saucepan for the stock. That lent a wonderful sweet flavour to the gravy.
- For the caramelised onions do the above instruction. When nicely golden take off heat. When needed put back on heat, add a little balsamic vinegar and stir through.
- Add the other ingredients (except the rapeseed oil, balsamic and honey), to the cooked onions in the large suitable bowl and mix thoroughly. Allow to stand for half an hour.
- For the gravy add all the numbered ingredients to a large heavy-based saucepan and put on heat No 4 and bring to a boil. Add a lid and reduce heat to No 2. Simmer for 30 minutes. If you want to remove the carrots after simmering for 15 minutes and set aside. They can be reheated with a little oil and honey.
- When stock has simmered strain into a suitable bowl and set aside. Discard the vegetables, except the bay leaf.
- Put a small heavy-based saucepan on low heat No 1. Add the oil and the flour, the latter sieved if necessary. Stir through occasionally. Allow the runny roux to bubble slightly but do not let the flour turn brown. Cook out the flour for several minutes, taking it off heat if too much bubbling occurs. Unfortunately I don’t have a local butcher where I could ask for beef bones to make what I think is termed a dark roux. Forgot to check online for more details, especially as my gravy was quite blondish in colour – tasted great, though.
- Return the stock to a saucepan and when the runny roux is ready pour almost all of it into the stock. Return the bay leaf. Bring to a boil stirring often, then simmer. If gravy is too thin add the rest of the roux. When ready add the balsamic vinegar and stir through, adding more to personal taste.
- Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes and get them on a boil. When cooked drain and mash with whatever you prefer. Here, I’m just using extra virgin olive oil to keep the flavours light. If you need further instructions for creamy, mashed potatoes then click: Pork shoulder steaks with creamy mashed potatoes
- Shape the burgers with wet hands about 2.5cm (1 inch) in thickness and set on a plate. It’s not absolutely necessary to press them a great deal to remove trapped air as they should be fairly rustic. Finely grate the nutmeg, if using, over the burgers a couple of times per burger. The flavour is very pungent so less is more.
- Put a heavy-based pan on heat No 4. When hot enough, and the burgers are ready, pour in enough oil to cover its base and reduce heat to No 3. Add the burgers when oil is hot but not smoking. Cook for around 5 – 8 minutes, turn them over if golden, place a lid or large plate on top, and continue to cook until done (be careful when removing the lid or plate as these burgers can spit hot oil). Check their centres with a food thermometer. Their centres should be at least 71°C (160°F) according to USDA information online. As these are quite thick it might be best to cook to a higher thermometer reading. If in doubt cut through to one of their centres to make sure the meat is cooked right through.
- Serve with the caramelised onions on top of each burger.
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