A successful burger is all about the fat, so Rose Prince recommends adding suet and bone marrow for a silky texture and superb flavour. Makes two large patties.
’I have reached a point in life when my children frequently tell me I am out of date on countless topics. Both my children cook and one is a baker, a butcher and has been trained to make charcuterie.
I’m proud of Jack, obviously, but when we cook together, it is not only the food that gets heated. He likes to use thermometers and exact timers, while I use sight and touch, preferring not to cook accompanied by a cacophony of beeps and alarms.
He sniffs at my methods — “no one does it like that any more”. I witnessed his youthful trials and some errors with barely held patience. On the whole, however, I have to admit he gets a lot right. He won an argument about burgers, for instance, and I have been using his recipe ever since.
Burgers are all about the fat
It is all about fat. I think many cooks assume that using beef mince delivers the right ratio of muscle to fat. The result, though, is often nubbly because most minced meat will be taken from the cheaper cuts, forequarters, shins and skirt. There will be a proportion of connective tissue in the mince that will not tenderise during the short time it takes to grill or fry a burger.
When Jack makes a burger, he minces lean meat and adds grated suet, the only fat that renders away. He uses a ratio of 70% meat to 30% suet. And, yes, unless you have a kind butcher to mince meat on demand, buy a hand mincer or attachment for a table mixer and do it yourself.
The concept is simple kitchen physics. The fat helps to tenderise the meat pieces and partially runs away during cooking, resulting in a soft and juicy burger. There will, I warn you, be quite a lot of melted fat in the grill pan.
The leaness of venison
For a venison burger, this method turned out to be highly successful compared with my past efforts. The leanness of venison cries out for extra fat, which also accentuates the flavour of the meat.
To put a little bit of ‘me’ into the recipe, I added grated beef bone marrow, which made it silkier still and so delicious. It is essential that the bone marrow and suet are placed in the freezer for a time, to make grating easier and to help during the mixing process. The green slaw is an adaptation of that served at Black Axe Mangal, one of my son’s favourite London grills.
Tip: Slipping the marrow out of the bone and freezing it for an hour will make it easy to grate
Venison and bone marrow burgers
- 2 x 10cm beef marrow bones
- 60g beef suet
- 300g cubed venison, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½tsp fine sea salt
- Burger buns
- American mustard
- Sweet pickled gherkins
- Shredded cos lettuce
For the slaw:
- Half a head of spring greens
- Half a red onion
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored
- 2 or 3 green chillies
- 80g (OR small bunch) coriander, chopped
- 150ml Greek yoghurt
- juice of 2 limes
- Allow the marrow bones to reach room temperature, then loosen the marrow from the bone using a teaspoon handle. Push the narrower end of the marrow and the whole piece should slide out.
- Put the bone marrow and the suet in the freezer for one hour.
- Put the minced venison in a bowl and add the seasoning. Grate 40g of bone marrow then grate in 60g of the beef suet. Add to the mince and mix quickly but thoroughly. Keep everything cool. Shape into two large patties, about 1.5cm thick.
- Fry the burgers for three minutes on each side. Cook for longer for those who prefer them well done.
- For the slaw, finely slice the greens, the onion and the apple on a mandolin and combine with all the other ingredients. Pop the burger in the toasted bun, adding all the usual bits — and tuck in.