Everyone loves a great origin story.

One such story concerns the humble hamburger. For over a century the origins of the hamburger have been disputed more hotly than a flame grill barbeque but one thing seems clear – the name has nothing to do with the ingredients.

Nowhere has it ever been suggested that ham, or any variation of pork, should be the meat in the bun. Instead it appears the fast food favourite takes its name from the German city of Hamburg – or possibly its little cousin, the US town of Hamburg.

Recipes involving finely chopped meat date back centuries and can be found across the globe. In Hamburg, Germany a particular delicacy was the Frikadeller: a pan-fried combination of ground beef with soaked stale bread, egg, chopped onion, salt and pepper, usually served with potatoes and vegetables – though not in a bun.

In the early 19th century many Europeans heading to New York departed using the Hamburg America shipping line and soon numerous restaurants sprang up offering immigrants a taste of the old country. As the population of New York grew new towns sprung up, one of which took the name of Hamburg. In 1885 food vendors Frank and Charles Menches ran out of pork sausage for their sandwiches at the nearby county fair. A local butcher, short on pork, suggested ground beef instead. The brothers served it in bread with ketchup and onions and the “Hamburg” sandwich was born.

Various other tales lay claim to the revolutionary step of serving ground beef in a bun as food on the go but the first fast food chain to really embrace the hamburger was White Castle, which celebrates its centenary this year. Their flattened, square burgers were known as sliders and soon the company had nearly 100 restaurants across the mid-west with staff kept up to date through the company newsletter “the hot hamburger”.

In 1940, on California’s route 66, McDonald’s first restaurant opened. It offered 25 different menu options but brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald soon found hamburgers made up 80% of sales.

Word spread of their innovation – the “fast food” burgers ready for takeaway in a minute and the drive-in where you could eat food in the car park. Now you can find McDonalds in more than 100 countries across the world.

The humble burger has progressed, there’s one to suit all appetites, pockets and tastes, including vegan options and every summer enthusiastic garden chefs across the land cook up their own barbeque creations.

For those with a big appetite the world’s largest burger is available at Mallie’s Sports Grill and Bar in Detroit though you have to order three days in advance. Weighing in at over 2,000 pounds, it’s topped with cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and lettuce and measures three feet tall and five feet wide.

Meanwhile, over in Las Vegas high rollers can visit the Fleur restaurant to dine on the world’s most expensive hamburger. The Fleurburger is made from wagyu beef, seared foie gras and truffle shavings, served with a prized 1995 Chateau Petrus wine from Bordeaux it will set you back $5,000 – at least you also get a few chips.

We’re staying with the good old US of A for this week’s recipe, and it won’t cost you $5,000!

Philly Cheese Steak Baguette

Pickled Red Cabbage:

  • Half red cabbage
  • 2g cracked black pepper
  • 8g garlic puree
  • 6g smoked salt
  • 25g sugar
  • 220ml water
  • 220ml red wine vinegar
  • 50g red sliced jalapeno
  • 50g green jalapeño

Slice the red cabbage place to one side

Boil the rest of the liquids until the sugar is dissolved chill then pour the liquor over the cabbage and leave in the fridge for 24 hours

Gruyere Cheese & Dijon Mustard Sauce:

  • 2 tbps flour
  • 2 tbps butter
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ block gruyere cheese
  • 1g sodium citrate
  • 0.5g turmeric
  • 200g milk

Melt the butter and slowly add the flour and turmeric mix the milks together and slowly add to the roux (flour + Butter) stirring constantly add the sodium citrate and fold in the cheese slowly

Rocket washed:

  • 1 bag rocket salad  

A1 BBQ Sauce:

  • 200g glucose
  • 125g tomato paste
  • 125g tomato ketchup
  • 72g white wine vinegar
  • 15g veg Worcestershire sauce
  • 10g molasses
  • 10g burnt caramelized syrup
  • 10g garlic powder
  • 5g natural smoked syrup
  • 50g orange concentrate
  • 2g yeast extract
  • 20g water

Salt & Pepper Tiger Baguette:

With the range of fresh bread available I bought this from the local supermarket

Caramelized Red Onion:

  • 8 red onions
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 25ml olive oil
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 150ml balsamic vinegar
  • 150ml red wine vinegar

Step 1: Cut your onions and chilli into short, thin slices and put them into a pan with the bay leaves and oil. Cook gently over a low heat for about 20 minutes.

Step 2: Once the onions are dark and sticky, add the sugar and the vinegars and simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the chutney is thick and dark.

Step 3: Pour the chutney into hot, sterilised jars and let it cool. Ideally, you should leave it for a month or more before you eat it, to mature in flavour.

Dijon Mustard Mayo:

  • 4 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Mix these in a bowl and place in a side dish

Beer Battered Onion Rings:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 300g pale ale
  • 2 large onions
  • veg oil for frying

Slice the onions width ways inch thickness to make the rings gently break these up into rings, add the flour and dry’s to a bowl gradually stir in the beer insure there is no lumps in the mix

Sweet Potato Fries:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Wash 2 large sweet potatoes under cold running water, scrubbing well with a scrubber to get rid of any dirt (there’s no need to peel them)

Cut each sweet potato in half lengthways, cut each half in half lengthways, then each piece in half again so you end up with 8 wedges

Add to a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle over a tiny pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and ½ a teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika

Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then toss everything together to coat

Spread out into a single layer in a large baking tray, then bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through

Leave to sit for a couple of minutes (this will make it easier to remove them from the tray), then use a fish slice to transfer them to a serving dish

White Onions, mixed peppers:

  • 2 sliced onions
  • 2 peppers sliced

Emmental cheese cut into half 8 slices 

2 x Sirloin Steak

Place the seasoned sirloin steaks on a hot grill pan and cook each side for 2.30sec this will give you a medium rare finish, once both sides are cooked place on a tray and allow to rest place a knob of butter on each steak and rest 10-12min

Use another hot pan and add the sliced onions and peppers add salt to taste and sauté these until soft

When the meat has rested thinly slice each one mix with the peppers and onions,  

Cut each end of the bag and slice in half, place a thin layer of mayo across the whole of the bottom baguette, add the red onion chutney on top and place the Emmental cheese from top to bottom.

Add the meat, peppers & onions to the baguette and slowly pour over the gruyere cheese sauce whilst warm add the washed rocket and place the bag on top, place on a slate and add the other accompaniments to the board

Ideal for a party will serve 10 people easily.

About Oliver Parkinson
Sous Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.