[Recipe 2] MINI BURGERS with HIDDEN VEGGIES
This week Scotch eggs morph into tiny Mini burgers. Scotch eggs have long featured on my ‘kooky UK meals to try’ list (along with Toad in the Hole, Spotted Dick and Bubble and Squeak), and a couple of months ago I gave them a burl. Delicious! As we’re coming up to Easter, I figured now was the perfect time to share them.
Scotch eggs are traditionally coated in sausage meat, but I just can’t bring myself to deep-fry a ball of sausage (easier to just rip my arteries out); so I use a mixture of beef and pork mince, which has more flavour, more iron and much less fat! I also throw in some mustard and onion for extra bite.
I’ve experimented with this recipe quite a bit, and although scotch eggs *can* be baked (lightly oiled at 200°C/390ºF for 25 minutes); they’re really much yummier deep-fried, with that lovely crunchy golden coating. I’m not at all adverse to the occasional deep-fried treat!
Double-crumbing is a technique I learned from the Dutch, and it makes for an extra crispy crust, whilst ensuring the scotch eggs don’t split open during cooking.
By making double the beef/pork mixture for the scotch eggs you can whip up a batch of gorgeous little Mini burgers with hidden veggies later. Look for the ♦ orange diamonds within the recipe, for instructions on how much beef/pork mixture to reserve for the burgers.
My beautiful friend, and Japanese culture junkie, Janet, introduced me to the tiny burger snacks at the ubiquitous Breadtop, an Asian bread/pastry chain popping up all over Australia. The bun itself is like a cross between brioche and a puff of air, and it holds a tiny cold hamburger patty, a smear of tomato sauce, a minuscule slice of cheese and a tiny leaf of lettuce. That’s it! Gone in two mouthfuls, but absolutely delicious. You can so easily make them yourself for the kids lunchboxes. Freeze the patties and little buns separately (you can buy the buns in bags of eight at Breadtop, or in bulk from Costco); defrost them overnight, and assemble in the morning. Two per child should suffice. Such a lovely change from boring sandwiches! They’re also perfect for kid’s birthdays, and adult parties (add a teaspoon of fennel seeds with the onion to ramp up the flavour).
[Recipe 1] Scotch eggs
Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals; ie. 6 scotch eggs + 12 mini burgers):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) beef
500g (1 lb) minced (ground) pork
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried, if unavailable)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
¼ cup plain (all-purpose) flour, for coating
3 eggs, extra, beaten, for coating
1¼ cups dry breadcrumbs, extra, for coating
I litre (34 fl oz) vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought chutney), to serve
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 4–5 minutes, until soft. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the cooked onion, mustard, beef, pork, thyme, salt, pepper, ½ cup breadcrumbs and 1 beaten egg. Process until well combined; or mix and mash with your hands.
♦ Reserve half the beef/pork mixture (about 2 cups or 600g/1¼ lb) for the mini burgers.
Divide the remainder of the beef/pork mixture into 6 even portions, patting each piece into a flat oval shape, the size of your palm.
Coat each of the 6 peeled, hard-boiled eggs in flour. Wrap each floured egg evenly in a portion of beef/pork mixture, making sure they are smooth and completely covered. Dip each mince-coated egg into the extra beaten egg, then roll gently in breadcrumbs until well-coated. Double-coat by repeating the egg and breadcrumb stages. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, reserving a couple of eggy breadcrumb lumps for testing the oil temperature.
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan on the stovetop until it reaches 180°C (350ºF). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a breadcrumb lump in the pot. It should sizzle as soon as it hits the oil.
Deep-fry the scotch eggs (in two batches if necessary) for approximately 4–5 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
Remove scotch eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Place on a tray lined with baking paper paper and bake in the hot oven for 7 minutes (this will ensure meat is cooked through).
Serve warm or at room temperature with Easy spiced tomato chutney and a green salad or Green beans and toasted pine-nuts (pictured).
[Recipe 2] Mini burgers with hidden veggies
Ingredients (serves 4, makes 12 little patties):
1 medium carrot, grated on fine zester holes
1 small zucchini (courgette), grated, chopped, liquid squeezed out with your hands
2 tablespoons oat bran (or wheatgerm)
♦ 2 cups (about 600g/1¼ lb) reserved beef/pork mixture
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
12 mini buns or dinner rolls
Butter or baby cos (romaine) lettuce
Thinly sliced cheddar cheese
Tomato sauce (ketchup)
Put carrot, zucchini and oat bran into a large bowl.
♦ Add reserved beef/pork mixture.
Season. Mix and mash it all together well with your hands. Shape mixture into twelve tiny patties, about 5 cm (2″) diameter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat extra oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry mini burgers until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve mini burgers in little buns with lettuce, sliced cheese and tomato sauce.
- Cooked patties, and little buns, can be frozen with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months. Defrost as required, for lunchboxes.
- Patties can also be frozen uncooked, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
- As these patties are tiny, it’s very important to ensure the onion, carrot and zucchini are chopped and/or grated into very small pieces or your burgers will fall apart when cooked. The tiny zester holes on your grater are perfect for carrot. I grate zucchini on the normal grater holes though as it gets too watery. Give the mound of grated zucchini a good extra chop afterwards to make the pieces smaller.
- You can use this mixture to make four large patties instead of mini burgers. Pop them in the freezer for a quick mid-week dinner.