For some reason, we’ve always strayed away from the burger option on children’s menus, but, having thought more about it, surely they’re just the same as lasagne or cottage pie? Healthier in fact as not every little piece of mince is browned in fat first? Ok, so I’m not sure of the science behind that last comment, but it makes sense to me!
When asking Frankie if she wanted to make burgers for tea she, as is her first response to most things, declared that she didn’t like them. That was beside the point, and we began anyway! This is a great way to get the little ones involved in cooking as they can get their hands in to mix, measure out spoonfuls of spices, squash them in the pestle and mortar and help break the eggs and crumble the bread – it’ll keep them occupied for hours!
I’ve always based my mince mix on Jamie Oliver’s ‘Botham Burgers’ as they’re really tasty. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I tend not to ‘do’ quantities as, with things like this, you adapt to your own tastes. I’ll try and put a few suggestions in, but it’s really up to you and your family what flavours and spicing you prefer. Here’s my version:
small pack of lean mince
1 large tablespoons coriander seeds
1 desert spoon cumin seeds
a few grinds of black pepper
1 slice of bread, crumbed
1 red onion
1 large dollop Dijon mustard
Dice-sized cubes of Cheddar cheese – or blue cheese if you prefer
Ask your LO to tip the mince into the bowl and begin pulling it apart. Remind them not to put their fingers in their mouth!
Meanwhile, finely dice the onion. I shove mine in the food processor!
Once the mince is broken up, measure out the coriander, cumin and pepper and grind in a pestle and mortar. Again, the measuring and grinding is something your LO will enjoy helping with. When done, tip into the mince and get your hands in to combine. You could always add a few chilli flakes at this point too.
Use one slice of bread, doesn’t matter which colour, as breadcrumbs. I use a coffee grinder to do mine but your LO will have fun just pulling it apart. Add the crumbs, the egg, the onion and the dollop of mustard to the mix and combine well. Lots of hands in to squash and squeeze the mixture – combine everything well.
Now comes the fun bit! Take a good sized amount of the mixture and squash flat onto the surface. Pop a cube of cheese in the middle and wrap the mixture around it. Use cupped hands to shape it into a ball, then gently flatten to the desired thickness for your burger. Your LO will really enjoy ‘hiding’ the cheese inside when making her own mini burger, or slider.
To cook, simple brown on each side in a frying pan then put into the oven to finish the cooking. You can do it all in the oven if you’d prefer not to fry but you’ll lose some of the flavour from the browning process. It will depend on how thick your burgers are as to their cooking time, but I brown for a couple of minutes on each side, then finish off for about 10 minutes in the oven. You want the beef to be cooked through but still moist.
Now layer up your bun. I used a tiger roll or a soft one with a crisp top. For Frankie, We used small cookie cutters and pushed them through a soft roll to create a mini slider bun just the right size for little hands and tummies.
For the grown ups, I put salad leaves,cheese, tomato and red onion into the bun, then people added their own sauces. For Frankie, I left hers plain with a small squeeze of ketchup as a treat and made a ‘shake-me’ salad instead: chopped tomato, cucumber, pepper and onion in a tub which she can shake to mix, then pour onto her plate.
Frankie wolfed hers down, as did the rest of the family, and it’s perfect to keep your LOs occupied for an hour on a wet day. Don’t forget, there’ll be the extra surprise of the melted cheese too!