Ode to The Burger

Has anyone else noticed the launch of American burger chains in London?  I’m not talking McDonalds and Burger King.  Recently, both Five Guys and Shake Shack, large American burger chains in the United States, have opened up branches in Covent Garden.  Five Guys UK are planning another 5 stores and the next one is planned for Reading.  Here’s Shake Shack’s You Tube video of their opening day:

I personally think American celebrity chef, Bobby Flay, has the best burger chain in  the U.S. with his Bobby’s Burger Palace.  He still only has 15 locations in the U.S. though and no word on international expansion.

This trend for American comfort food has not escaped niche publisher, Parragon Books.  I received a review copy of  Parragon’s recently published book, The Burger, An Action-Packed Tasty Adventure from Love Food Cookbooks.

The cookbook is quite fun and the graphics are in a comic-book style.  But, boy, is it serious about the burger.  It has 100 recipes, mostly for burgers.  There are loads of recipes for burgers, from the traditional versions to gourmet ones.  Mr. N and my son (who like their meat!) fell in love with it immediately.

photo:  Parragon Books

photo: Parragon Books

Among the traditional flavours are the cheese and bacon burger, the turkey burger and chilli burgers.  Vegetarians options include the tofu burger, the bean burger, the sweet potato and halloumi burger and the beetroot burger.  The more adventurous burgers include tuna burgers with mango salsa, truffle burgers, turkey gorgonzola burgers, Jamaican Jerk chicken burgers and Kimchi burgers.

In addition, there are a handful of recipes for toppings side dishes such as sweetcorn relish and potato salad.  The sides are definitely All-American, no nods to international cuisines here.

We tried two recipes from this book., both from the more adventurous flavours section.

The Lamb and Feta Burger

This burger calls for an unusual combination of lamb mince, feta cheese, prunes and pine kernals.

lamb burger

It’s definitely among the more exotic flavours you could do in a burger.  Not your daddy’s burger at all.   My kids thought it was weird but that was always a risk with anything vaguely different.  They found it mind-boggling that burgers could be anything other than beef.  Mr. N and I, however,  thought it was delicious.

lamb burger cooked

The pine kernals added crunch and the prunes a bit of sweetness.  I’m sure the prunes are also good for digesting all that meat.  As with any recipe calling for lamb mince, we had to be careful on the timing because lamb mince burns easily.

The Beef Teriyaki Burger with sizzling vegetables

This burger calls for steak mince, wasabi and teriyaki sauce.  We added more teriyaki sauce than the recipe called for because we prefer our meat well-seasoned.  This burger was a big hit with the whole family.  The teriyaki sauce and wasabi give it a slight sweet yet spicy flavour.  We liked the book’s idea of putting the burgers on pita bread so that wecould taste more of the burger.  Especially with the children, too big a bread roll is too difficult for them to eat.

We will definitely be trying more creative recipes from this book.  If you would like to see more of The Burger, Parragon have helpful provided this free recipe sampler.

No one quite knows who thought of creating the first burger but reports seem to agree they started appearing in the late 19th century at American country fairs in the United States.   Thank goodness burgers were created because they are an easy family meal sure to placate the fussiest of eaters.

What’s your favourite burger joint?  Or do you have any tips on making the perfect home-made burger?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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