Heston Blumenthal’s South African World Cup Barbecue burgers for Waitrose put to the test.
Whether you’re an England fan who’s decorated everything you own with a St George’s Cross, or sat at home sulking in front of BBC4 like me, (or just Scottish and not bothered), the World Cup is still a great excuse to get people together and indulge in a few summer traditions like barbecuing.
To tie in with the World Cup’s host nation, and Waitrose’s current chef promotion, let’s try Heston Blumenthal’s South African Boerewors burgers.
Two of my friends spent a lot of time in South Africa, including touring the townships around Durban. They’ve had the genuine Boerewors sausages, where part of the “fun” is spitting out the chunks of bone you find amongst the meat. These burgers aren’t quite that authentic- there’s no animal bone on the ingredients list.
Typically for a Heston Blumenthal recipe nothing is ever 100% simple. In this case ground spice powder is out, whole coriander seeds, please: toasted then crushed by hand. In the pan your seeds will look quite a lot, relative to the other ingredients, but that’ll soon change.
My kitchen is cluttered with lots of useless gadgets (mostly thanks to other Blumenthal recipes) but one thing I don’t have is a pestle and mortar. I had to make do with a cereal bowl and the end of a rolling pin.
Ten minutes and one sore arm later I had a tiny amount of coriander powder hidden under roughly crushed husks. Unless you do have a very good pestle and mortar you might want to increase the amount of seeds you use. If not all you’ll have to work with is a tiny smudge of tasty dust. Or just use ground coriander.
Other recipes suggest you chill your shaped patties, to firm them up. If your barbecue lighting skills are rusty then you might need to keep them in the fridge anyway, while you pour on another half-litre of lighter fluid to get the coals going.
If you do chill them they’ll be a bit easier to handle for the next part. Flipping the burgers every 15 seconds is a delicate operation. These are only held together with salt and hope, so be careful. Any clumsiness can send big chunks of breakaway meat down into the flames.
HINT: Cook the burgers for a minute each side first to “seal” them, and coat them and the grill with oil. This will reduce the chance of them sticking.
Covering with the lid to melt the cheese works really well, lifting it reveals your burgers neatly wrapped in a gooey blanket of Jarlesberg. Don’t forget to rest them. Not just for the meat to relax and become more tender, gastro-fans, you’ll also prevent third-degree burns to the roof of your mouth.
Heston’s final tip, and one that should apply to almost any bread product accompanying hot, savoury fillings, is to toast the buns. All fast food restaurants do this, so you talented home cooks have no excuse. The contrast of textures, crispy bread and succulent meat, is perfect.
TIP: Use a pastry brush or a spray bottle to coat the inside of your buns with olive oil before you put them on the heat. This will help make them brilliantly crispy.
These don’t take too long to make from scratch, so you can do some proper outdoor cooking without going over the top. (I’ve yet to have a few mates round for a simple barbie where the bill for bread, meat and ketchup comes in under £50).
Heston suggests gherkins, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup and American mustard as condiments. I think toppings are a matter of personal choice, but I got a little too giddy with the sauces, which overpowered much of the Boerewors seasoning. As did the ground cloves. If I ever made these again I’d reduce those, and add more nutmeg and coriander. And buy a proper pestle and mortar.
If nothing else though, they’re more South African than anything else you’ll cook outdoors during the World Cup (unless you’ve already ordered your Blesbok and Kudu steaks) so they’re worth trying for novelty alone.
Did you try this recipe, or what’s your perfect barbecue food? Feel free to put your thoughts in the comments section.