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Monday 22 July 2013

Gluten Free: Cheeseburgers

Well, it's definitely barbecue weather, there's no escaping it. I can see the appeal, cooking outside so that you don't superheat your kitchen, overloading your plate with coleslaw and potato salad, eating al fresco when there's a cooling breeze, overindulging in melted marshmallows as the embers die down. 

The thing is (there's always a thing when you're gluten free) barbecues can be an absolute gluten-filled nightmare. Rusk in sausages, breadcrumbs in burgers, soya sauce in marinades, all served on a bread roll – it's not ideal. Even if you do bring your own GF food to the party, you have to be vigilant about how it's cooked. Whack your steak on the grill where a sausage was cooking, and you've got yourself some quality cross-contamination right there. I've been horribly ill after someone just used the same tongs to turn my food as well as everyone else's.

There are two options, avoid all barbecues, stay indoors and hide, or get prepared. Wrap your GF bangers in foil and ask for them to be cooked still wrapped, supply the cook with one of those foil trays you can buy for barbecuing or bring your own disposable barbecue and cook your burgers on that. Ok, so you miss out on the sharing side of barbecuing, but you also miss out on the sickly side of gluten poisoning. Bring enough to share and make sure yours in so exciting that people start lamenting that the gluten free food is way better than the normal stuff.

I'm taking my inspiration for these cheeseburgers from Man vs Food. As a general lifestyle choice, that's probably not the healthiest way to go, but every now and then it's fine to eat like Adam Richman. The Juicy Lucy, from the Minneapolis episode, (it'll be on Dave sometime soon, I'm sure) is a burger with the cheese on the inside, it looked amazing and I had to try it. Now you can, too.

Cheeseburgers (makes 4 burgers)
You'll need:
  • 4 thin slices of pancetta
  • ½ large onion, finely chopped
  • 500g minced beef (don't use lean beef, 20% fat is ideal)
  • 1tbsp Henderson's Relish (or gluten free Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 slices of mozzarella (or small handfuls of grated cheese of your choice)
Make it!
  1. Fry the pancetta in a dry pan until it's crispy. Chop into little pieces.
  2. Using the fat left from cooking the pancetta, gently fry the onions until they're soft and golden.
  3. Let the pancetta and onion cool to room temperature, then add to a bowl with the mince, Henderson's relish, ketchup and chilli flakes. Mix well to combine.
  4. At this stage, I like to fry a tiny amount in a pan to check the seasoning. Remember that the pancetta and Henderson's are salty, you don't want to add too much extra salt without tasting it. If it needs salt, add it and mix again to evenly combine.
  5. Divide the mixture into eight.
  6. flatten one eighth of the mince into the general size you want your burger to be. place a slice of cheese on top and sandwich it with another eighth of mince. 
  7. Shape your burger, taking care to seal the sides and any gaps where the cheese shows through. Wrap your burger tightly in cling film and pop in the fridge until you're ready to cook them. 
  8. Repeat for the other three burgers.
  9. Cook them on a barbecue, or in a griddle pan, for about 5 minutes, depending on how thick they are. You want them to be cooked all the way through (no pink bits) and hot enough in the middle for the cheese to melt.

The richness of these burgers lends itself perfectly to serving with some of Hazel's cucumber and red onion pickle on top. I served mine in a toasted English muffin. You can find them in most supermarkets' free from aisles.

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