With the Rugby World Cup rapidly progressing into the later stages, I thought I’d share what we do as a family on Test Match nights. Burgers in front of the TV while the All Blacks chase the dream.

Yes I know what you’re thinking, burgers are fast food and what is he going there for? Well it’s simple really they taste great and are a load of fun. In some ways this is the problem with modern food, the fast food industry gets hold of a good idea and then cheapens it to the point of extinction. Where the reality is that, made well, burgers are really good for you, especially if you sneakily pack as much vegetable content into them as you can get away with. It’s all about knowing what’s in you’re food, especially the fun food.

As a chef I spend most of my time trying to dream up recipes using the most elaborate ingredients possible and then attempting to come up with new and innovative ways to cook and present them. This is all great fun and is a major part of cooking these days, but sometimes food just needs to be there for the family in a fun and nutritious way while the rugby is on. So go on, forget the fast food, and make your own.

Over the coming months I’ll be at Mills Reef Winery for a series of cook schools in the glorious Vintage Wine Cellar, I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Easy Burgers

500g minced beef or lamb

2 onion, diced finely

3 clove garlic, chopped

Salt & pepper

Chopped fresh herbs or dried herbs

2 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten

Avocado oil

Optional additions:

2 red capsicum, diced finely

150g mushrooms, diced finely

1 courgette, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Method

Mix all ingredients together well. Take large spoonfuls of mixture, shape into balls, place on a floured surface and flatten with your hand. Heat avocado oil in a frying pan and add 2 or 3 burgers at a time. Cook both sides until crisp and brown. Alternatively, the burgers can be cooked on a BBQ or finished off in the oven at 180°C.

Split the hamburger buns, place the burger inside with lettuce, tomato, avocado salsa (see below), cottage cheese and serve.

Avocado Salsa

2 ripe avocado, diced

2 de-seeded and finely chopped red chillies

2tsp chopped fresh coriander

4 tomatoes de-skinned, deseeded and diced

2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

Pinch salt

Zest & juice 1 lime

Method

Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to let the flavours develop.

Burger Buns

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour

20g instant yeast

20g sugar

10g salt

60g unsalted butter

280ml warm water

Optional

2 egg white

4 teaspoons of sesame seeds

Method

Weigh out the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large mixing bowl. (If your yeast needs activating in water, follow the instructions on the packet and subtract whatever water you need to use from the 280ml water listed above.) Mix them together so that they are evenly distributed.

Heat the butter (either in the microwave or in a pan) so that it has just melted, it should be just warm, not hot. Weigh the water into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients, pour in the melted butter and mix it all together (using your hands) to form a dough.

Tip the dough out on to a floured work surface and knead it until it has formed a smooth, elastic dough. It will be sticky at first but will become smooth as you knead it. Form the dough into a ball, lightly oil the inside of the mixing bowl and put the ball of dough back into the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of cling-film/plastic-wrap, put the bowl somewhere warm and leave it to prove until it has doubled in size (it depends on how warm it is but this usually takes 1 – 2 hours).

When the dough has doubled in size, tip the dough out of the bowl, cut it into eight and shape each into a ball. Leave the balls of dough on the work-top, cover them with a piece of lightly oiled cling-film/plastic-wrap and leave them to prove for a second time until they have doubled in size.

When the balls of dough have doubled in size, put them onto a lightly oiled baking tray and gently press them down to form the burger bun shape. Optionally, brush the top of each disk of dough with some egg white and sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon of sesame seeds.

Heat the oven to 170°c.

Leave the buns to rise for the final time until they have puffed up (not necessarily doubled in size but close).

When they are cooked, take the burger buns out of the oven and leave them on the tray until they have cooled to room temperature (when they come out of the oven they will feel very firm but leaving them to cool on the tray greatly softens the crust).

When they are cooled, cook your burgers and enjoy!

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