After a winter of being cooped up in the kitchen, I checked the weather forecast and saw that it would be dry and bright. Having spent the dark winter days trying to time my cooking to coincide with the available light, I decided that I would prepare the food and cook outdoors. My plan was to do some beef burgers. I wanted to take advantage of the warm afternoon. So, I donned a t-shirt and headed outdoors.
Cooking outdoors is not something that happens too often in Ireland. We aspire to the outdoor life, taking our cue from TV programmes showing the perfect lives of the Australians and Californians. We buy fancy, multi-burner barbecues and overstuffed outdoor furniture. The reality of our outdoor life is a little different to the aspiration. Each year, we tend to get a total of a week or two of warm weather, rarely running in more than two successive days. So, when the sun comes out, so do we.
I had my mind set on cooking some sous vide beef burgers. So, I brought everything I would need out to the garden. Included in my recipe mix were two trial ingredients. Here’s what I used.
Sous Vide Beef Burger Ingredients
- 1.5 kilos of good quality beef mince (66% round, 33% rib)
- A couple of generous handfuls of breadcrumbs
- One egg
- A tablespoon or so of tomato flakes (Unusual ingredient 1)
- A tablespoon or so of leek flakes (Unusual ingredient 2)
- Salt and pepper to season
Chuck the whole lot into a mixer and let it do the mixing. The Irish summer is too short for hard work, if it can be avoided.
Once mixed, divide into a dozen burgers and form by hand. Make less (bigger) ones or more (smaller) ones, if you choose.
Vacuum seal the burgers into bags, with a little butter, to ensure they don’t stick, and pop them into the sous vide for an hour or so at 55ºC.
Confessions of an amateur summer cook: I have to admit, at this stage, that the burgers looked a little odd. The vacuum sealer squashes them into a sort of elliptical shape. However, we sous vide enthusiasts won’t let this put us off. Any odd shapes and weird colours can usually be disguised after cooking when we are browning the meat. Not this time…
When the burgers come out of the sous vide, they will look slightly odd but are cooked to perfection.
Brown the outside of the burgers on a barbecue, in a frying pan or with a blow torch. My own barbecue, getting it’s first outing of the season, refused to come up to temperature so I had to supplement the dismal heat with a going over from the blowtorch.
I served the burgers, indoors, to a grateful family. They tasted pretty wonderful. The flavours were top class and they went down very well with some mixed salad and chutneys, served in pitta bread, with a cold beer.
I was lucky on a couple of fronts. Firstly, my unusual ingredients worked very well. secondly, the lovely light let me take a couple of half decent outdoor shots. Thirdly, it wasn’t warm enough for the diners to come outside to see the strange looking burgers coming out of the bags. They tasted great all the same. If you have a sous vide, give them a go.