Hamburger n condiments

Weird Name – Mustard Pickles… What is it and what does it mean… well, its old fashioned, commercially made, often badly and when made properly, can be delicious. But in the end only passing interest with this bit of scribble.

My obsessions with meats are becoming well known, perhaps not understood, but then again its also reasonable to say, neither am I. Indeed I was just saying to someone the other minute, that in the last year I seem to have mislaid portions of myself, I just feel naked, exposed. I am also of an age where the occasional friend is dropping off the twig and that is far from attractive. One picks up the phone for a quick happy chat to some of your oldest and dearest friends only to be met with a list of illnesses and complaints. Its disheartening and not designed to put a smile on your face.

Can I tell you that I have completely given up sugar… can you believe that?? I just decided and so stopped. I had of course been using a variety of sugar substitutes, aspartame, saccharin etc, mostly because of the diabetic history, I also had begun to question a certain ‘mouth taste’ that was starting to make my life and the table, unattractive. Unbelievable results! We are so tuned to our tastes that altering them can make a massive difference. My morning porridge is now eaten with just a small splot of golden syrup, I used sugar once and it tasted horrible. Little Tommy Digby would be amazed as would Blessed Iris, neither would ever have thought it possible that I would no longer enjoy a slather of icing on a cake or bun. I know that you all love to keep up with my general state of mind/body in the hopes that your own futures will be enhanced and transformed by my mistakes and errant ways.

Why then my current thing about pickles… well I guess it was just another of those many things that the Blessed Iris did every year and which appeared on the table when ever a cold meat, hot vegetable or salad meal was happening. It was always accompanied by a good Tomato Relish and maybe one other, cucumber and apple I loved. My father would have never sat at the table if his cold corned beef was not partnered with Mustard Pickle and Mustard. Life had a rhythm and that rhythm was sacred and inviolate.

Its an interesting history the whole pickle/chutney thing, it is of course part of the ways used by so many countries to preserve foods that in the summer were in great abundance and with this, make the eating for the rest of the year when the table would be endless rounds of tubers, pumpkins, route vegetables and a little meat, that much more tolerable. There is hardly a country on earth that does not do this form of preservation, think food like Kim chi, Indian achar etc…

This is not a new thing, it has been part of life and living for a long time. Mind you that said, its creation in the worlds kitchens is in sad decline as we become less and less inclined to spend the time in the kitchen, but that’s a fact I have railed at over and over and I doubt that with all my ranting and raving, anyone will go back to cooking who is not inclined to do so. One suspects that many peoples economic positions as well as the governments support has eroded the necessity of being as frugal and as economic as earlier days where householders, as a matter of course would make preserves of all kinds. Whether that is correct or not, we have to live with the situation where we now are and make the most of it. But I do think that smaller manufacturers like us and the few that have not been gobbled up by the avaricious companies that are now collecting the food companies of Australia… Calendar Cheese, Simon Johnson to name a couple, must keep the running on all this type of product and be sure that we do not loose these delicious things.

I would love to somehow take a more modern approach to the whole thing and come up with products that reflect a new approach, but it seems difficult, perhaps I am too trapped in the past to visualise the future. Let me give you an example, the first time I ever heard that a hamburger could be or was accompanied by Tomato Relish, I was flabbergasted, not possible. Tomato Relish indeed. It can be seen that the golden arches have changed the way we see things… does anyone know if there is tomato sauce on a big Mac? Or on any of the burgers from the chains? And what is this inclusion of pickled cucumbers all about? Can’t you see how I have become far to entrenched and caught up. I am trapped by my own clutching onto the past, did the hamburgers that we got from Craig Lea cafe, big thick things, dripping with butter, fat, meat juices, egg yolk and often pineapple, tomato and shredded lettuce all topped off with a sound lashing of tomato sauce, close my mind for ever to the possibility of change? Does that mean my creative juices are on the wane, like so many of my other juices? I so hope not!!


This can be a great dish, all will depend on the quality of the meat and, it should be prime mince with a reasonably high fat content (10% is about right) .The effect you are looking for in taste is that of great steak, that just happens to be minced. The fat is designed to keep the meat moist as it cooks and it will cook away.

(This bread is an optional extra, try it, see if you like it, if not then proceed as below without it.)

2 – 3 slices of good bread, crust removed soaked in 1/2 cup of milk.

1 kg (2lb) best quality mince (10% fat.. ask the butcher to make sure)

2 tspns of salt

black pepper to taste

1/2 tspn dried mustard

1 onion, chopped finely

2 egg yolks

(if you are worried that the fat may not be 10%, add a good dash of olive oil, it will give flavour and moisture and will cook out)

Take the soaked bread and ring it our well, crumble it up into a basin, add the two egg yolks and mix, add the meat and mix well along with the onion, salt, pepper and mustard. Allow to stand for 20 minutes until the flavours have had a chance to amalgamate. Form into patties (about 1.5cm thick) and cook on a flat grill plate, turning just once.

Optional extras for hamburger mix

*garlic, obviously it changes the flavour but for lovers of garlic, essential

*herbs, chopped spinach is nice, parsley or other green herbs make a great taste.

*tomato paste can add another dimension, make sure that it does not make the mix too dry, if it does, add a dash more water

*cheese, this can be mixed into the burger or on top, its up to you.

*sauce.. Worcestershire, plum, steak sauce… all sauces have sugar, the sugar will caramelise on the outside of the burger as it cooks giving a very brown outside. It has a tendency to dry a burger out.

*use you imagination….nuts, some fruits such as grated apple, grated vegetables such as carrots, minced legumes like beans or pulses.


Serve in toasted bread roll with whatever fillings you love. My preference… fried onions, bacon pieces, fried egg, sliced tomato, lettuce, pineapple if you must and for goodness sake, butter the rolls.


Its quite easy to be flummoxed these days, hard to work out a path through the jungle of names names names and brands that are costly and frankly, don’t have the quality that their price and status suggest. We are intoxicated by the chefs who wrap this in that and top it off with another, we are fascinated by foods from all around the planet and those of us who bother, spend way too much time in the hunt for rare and amazing ingredients which often sit, having been opened, sniffed and perhaps a sprinkle or souson into or on a dish, never to be used again. Oh dear, am I off down the basics path again, lets not, lets look to the future with anticipation and confidence…

I am going to make raspberry vinegar with pink peppercorns to pour over your deep ocean crisp skinned slab of fish. I will bathe my lamb in imported spices from exotic locations infused into a marmalade flavoured gin. No, its all a lie, don’t worry I have not lost the plot.

~ by peterwatson on June 24, 2011.

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