How to cook a whole cow



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  • This cut: mince

    The dish: beef burgers

    People are serious about burgers. As a student, I lived with an American girl who made her own. I’d never seen such a thing before – someone making burgers from scratch using actual mince. She would give them 30 seconds on each side so that they were rare, then eat them, blood dripping down her chin, while watching one of the two videos that played on constant rotation in our house – the ‘South Bank Show’ on Pet Shop Boys or the episode of ‘Inspector Morse’ where Morse goes to a rave (‘Cherubim and Seraphim’, it was called). This was 1992. If you’d walked up to someone and said: ‘I’ve got this great idea, I’m going to open a chain of posh burger restaurants called Gourmet Burger Kitchen’, they would have laughed in your face.Ordinarily, burgers aren’t something I’d want to make or indeed eat at home. They feel like going-out food, and going-out food can be as recklessly unhealthy as it likes, whereas staying-in food should make a bit of an effort not to kill you. But I decide to give it a go, on account of the vast amount of minced Del-Boy that’s still clogging up the freezer and ought to be used soon before it goes off. It’s darker-hued than supermarket mince, which is usually bright red, and smells.The most appealing recipe I can find is in Joanna Weinberg’s superficially naff-seeming but actually brilliant ‘How to Feed Your Friends with Relish’ (Bloomsbury, £20), in the chapter on barbecues, which also contains a recipe for sticky ribs so glutinous that just reading it made me want to wash my hands. You basically mash all the ingredients together with your hands and shape them into burgers. It’s quite satisfying, and so easy you can’t imagine why anyone would bother buying crap supermarket burgers. I make them about an inch thick and, because I’m anal, use a biscuit cutter to shape them. As I’m frying them (three minutes on each side for medium rare), I play the PSB’s ‘Discography’ in nostalgic homage. John O’Connell

    How to cook it

    Mix together 1.5kg lean mince, a finely chopped onion, three egg yolks, a glug of Worcestershire sauce, a dash of Tabasco sauce, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a small handful of chopped lovage (or other fresh herb). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using damp hands, form the mixture into patties. You should get around ten patties out of this mixture. Grill or fry on each side for 2-3 minutes (for medium rare), or until cooked to your liking. Serve in a big fluffy bap with the condiments of your choice.

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