This method of braaing a burger patty is the route to extra-crispy edges yet a juicy centre. Here you do not pre-make or form the patties before going to the fire but simply divide the mince into portions. When everything else is ready, you put those portions of mince on a searing-hot cast-iron plate or pan and then use a flat object to – in one swift movement between the plate and chosen object – bash (smash, strike, hit, beat, thump, slap, smack, batter, pound, pummel, thrash, rap, buffet, hammer, bang, knock, wallop, belt, whack, clout, clip, clobber, bop, biff, sock, deck) each portion of meat into a flatter form, resembling a patty, which will be uniformly flat but not perfectly round.
Some basic guidelines:
- You need something to bash the burgers with. A heavy spatula made from metal will do the job. A truffle designed to plaster walls with cement also works very well, but definitely use one that hasn’t actually been used to plaster walls with cement.
- Use a cast-iron grill pan that you can place directly on the fire. You need a flat surface that can handle very high heat. If you don’t own this device, use the upside-down lid of your potjie.
- The less you handle or touch the meat, the better. You want loose ground beef. The more you mould it, the more packed it will become and that is not what you want to achieve as you want lots of air pockets in the beef mince so that the juices and fat released during the cooking can sit there and end up in your mouth. If you press out all the air pockets, the juices have nowhere to accumulate in the patty and will drift away.
- Bashing the meat means that some pieces of mince get very acquainted with the cast iron, and those pieces get very crispy.
- All you need to add to the beef mince is salt and pepper – nothing else. This can be done during the braai.
Ingredients (makes 4)
- 500 g lean beef mince
- 4 hamburger rolls
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 120 g good-quality Cheddar cheese (sliced or grated)
FOR THE SAUCE
- ½ cup mayonnaise (creamy)
- 1 tot tomato sauce
- 1 tot Dijon mustard
- 1 gherkin (normal-sized, chopped)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- Prepare your sauce first: Add all the ingredients together and use your stick blender or food processor to convert into a smooth sauce. Failing these gadgets, your last resort will just be to chop the gherkin really fine and just mix it all together.
- Divide your mince into four heaps. Do not handle the meat too much. Using your recently washed hands, form the meat into a ball very lightly and remember to keep the edges of the meat edgy and loose.
- Position your cast-iron pan directly over the flames to get a searing-hot surface. Pour a little bit of oil on the pan.
- Place the four balls of meat on the hot surface and swiftly apply a single moment of pressure onto each of them with your chosen weapon, ensuring they are uniformly flat and roughly the size of patties. Season with salt and pepper.
- After a minute or two, when you can see the meat colour changing as it cooks, flip the patties over using your spatula to scrape it loose from the grill pan. Season the other side with salt and pepper. Immediately also add cheese to each patty. Braai the other side for another 2 or 3 more minutes.
- During this process, oil the sliced rolls and toast on the grill pan, taking care not to over-toast (burn) them.
- Assemble the burger: Roll, patty straight off the fire, sauce, roll.
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