Nothing whatsoever to do with commercially-produced junk food, this recipe is quick and easy, and bursting with flavour. Delicious served hot, as in this version with a mustard cream sauce - but arguably even more delicious served cold, the following day, after the flavours have all matured generously, when the burgers go well with a fresh salad.
This was variously derived from Pierre Franey and Marcella Hazan, with a few variations of my own which have been introduced over the years.
Ingredients: 500g ground meat (beef, lamb, or pork); half a red pepper; half a medium onion; 30g butter; 2 medium eggs; 60g freshly-grated parmesan; half a teaspoon dried thyme; salt & pepper; 2 tablespoons olive oil.
For the mustard-cream sauce: half a cup chicken stock; quarter cup of cream; generous teaspoon of dijon mustard.
1. Melt the butter in a small pan. Finely dice onion and pepper and sauté in melted butter for several minutes, until collapsed, then allow to cool.
2. Combine the onion and pepper in a bowl with the ground meat, parmesan, eggs, thyme and seasoning, to taste (I find it takes quite a lot of salt to work to my liking). Set aside in the fridge for twenty minutes or so, to firm.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy pan, large enough to sauté four burgers comfortably without them touching each other. Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and divide it into four. Make each one into an individual patty approx 3" across and 1" thick. (If the mixture seems quite sloppy at this stage, try adding a little flour in order to make it more resilient - if the burgers aren't firm enough, they'll fall apart in cooking)
4. Carefully place the burgers in the hot oil, and cook for about seven minutes on each side. Take great care when turning them over - the egg within the mixture should have coagulated decently by this stage, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
5. Meanwhile, in a small pan, combine the stock and cream, heat to an enthusiastic simmer and reduce the combined mixture until it is of coating density; add the mustard at this stage and continue to reduce further, for several minutes, stirring, until it's quite thick. Taste for seasoning (but it shouldn't really need any)
6. Serve, with a spoonful of sauce over each burger.