In our last house, we were lucky enough to live just around the corner from a great pub* that did to-die-for burgers – perfectly cooked, with a herb-laced side salad and spot-on french fries. They were so profoundly joy-inducing that we made them the centrepiece of our ‘end-of-a-long-hard-day-treat’, the crucial pillar of a holy trinity that came to be known as ‘Beer, Burger, Bed’. After a particularly long, hard day’s filming, K and I would stagger to the pub, order one of these burgers, wash down a beer (or a cider in my case) and stagger immediately back home to bed to collapse in the warm, magical glow of a burger-induced coma. In fact, Beer, Burger, Bed became such a mesmerising mantra that on particularly tough days we’d often start reciting it at about midday, just to get us through!
*I wish I could tell you the name of the pub that served these burgers so you could experience the same joy, but sadly they changed their chef about a year ago and their burgers were never the same again. Sad times…
But now we’ve moved over to the other side of London, and there’s no longer a pub serving heavenly burgers within staggering distance, so we’ve had to make do on our own. We’ve been doing a fair bit of experimenting with burgers over the last few months to crack something to rival those we enjoyed at our last place. K has developed a mean line in ground beef burgers combined with grated onion, and grated mushrooms or sweet peppers… which are not only totally delicious, and relatively healthy for a burger, but are also lighter in texture, and shockingly easy to devour! And then just the other day I was reminded of Nigel Slater’s beautiful lamb, beetroot and bulgur wheat patties, which are based on the same principle, and which I loved in my pre-gluten free days. All of a sudden I missed them very much, and found myself wondering if there might be a way to make them gluten free.
If I’m totally honest, I never liked bulgur wheat all that much even when I could eat it. I found it a bit nibbly – if that’s a word, a bit strangely textured I guess. But I’d had great success swapping bulgur wheat for quinoa when I made my gluten free tabbouleh, so I figured it would be a worth a go here.
And lo and behold, it worked.
Served up with all the trimmings in a gluten free pita bread, these little beauties ended up being one of the most memorable things I’ve eaten so far this year. The richness of the ground lamb, with the earthiness of the beetroot and the nuttiness of the quinoa was a perfect combination, and it ticked every ‘burger’ box for me. Best of all, the mix makes your ground lamb go so much further, and I found myself with half of the batch left over, which froze like a dream, and meant we got to enjoy them more than once – what a result! I think it may well be time to fill up my freezer with these bad boys – after all, you never know when the overwhelming need for Beer, Burger, Bed is going to arise!
2nd May 2015: Update! @Cantalwayscook over on twitter has made a fantastic YouTube video about how to make these burgers. And she’s inspired me to add a beaten egg to the recipe – which is quite frankly genius!
— Can’t Always Cook (@cantalwayscook) April 30, 2015
- 500g lamb mince
- 230g raw beetroot
- 120g quinoa
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Wash the quinoa well, then place in a large saucepan and cover with 360ml of cold tap water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until the quinoa is cooked and all of the water has been absorbed. Leave in the pan for 10 minutes to cool.
- Peel the beetroot and grate it using the coarse side of your grater (you might want to grate it onto a plate to save staining your chopping board bright purple!), then grate the onion finely too.
- In a large bowl combine the lamb mince, grated beetroot and onion, cooked quinoa, crushed garlic, chopped garlic, beaten egg and salt and use your hands to mix everything together thoroughly.
- Shape the mixture into twelve equal patties, and arrange on a lightly oiled baking tray. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 180C, brush the tops of your burgers with oil, then cook in the oven for for 20-25 minutes, flipping them over carefully halfway through cooking.
- Serve in gluten free pita breads or buns - I like to accompany them with mayonnaise, pickle and fresh salad.